A pauper living in his Prince’s Grace no more

It’s hard to imagine that it would come to this.

Months and months of frittering hard-earned money away like sand through fingers have left me utterly impoverished. Keeping up appearances, dealing with an exploding (as opposed to merely “flourishing”) social life vis-a-vis my days in the army and allowing my ever-constant snacking go unchecked do little to build up any form of credible savings.

My father has been so patient with me up till now. I have lived under his grace for too long, however, and the doors abruptly slammed shut on this pauper, after a harsh 2-hour long admonishment that wended its way back to the beginnings of my binge-spending in my poly days. Whatever money I have left, I had to make do. No financial aid will be granted.

Shit.

December had been a bad month for saving, what with all the meetups, gift exchanges and celebrations going on all around, and coupled with no income when the new year rolled around, I quickly found myself in debt and with slightly less money than I would have liked to spend per day. Suddenly I started counted every dollar spent, every cent disappearing from my wallet. I have scraped around for jobs; thankfully a couple of teaching assignments have come my way to ease the burden oh so slightly. Still, it is kind of ironic that a finance student would find himself very sorely lacking in finances, as my dad so gleefully likes to raise. I don’t blame him for it.

The interwebs have so far given me little comfort with regards to my current prospects. Advice blogs spell out what to do to get that savings account well into the black again, yet on the short term do little to ease the burden that I have brought unto myself. Thankfully on the longer term I believe I can turn this around with relative ease: I am communicating with Moody’s to go back to being their intern during the summer; still no guarantees, but I’m cautiously hopeful (amongst other prospects, of course). By then, things *fingers crossed* should be a lot more favourable.

In the meantime, I have started an expenses journal to keep track of where the moolah is going. I’m pretty certain 80% go to munchables, but I just want to be sure. Better to suffer a lesson in finances now than when I’m out in the world and find myself unable to feed myself or worse. I can’t keep up appearances for the sake of it any longer. In any case, I must also be more wary of the friends I keep, and the outings I attend, lest I break the bank again in future. If only the case were true for so many other Singaporeans out there living on the bare essentials. If only there was a simulator for people to make their mistakes in and learn before the harsh realities of life make learning them too painful to bear.

Thank goodness for the GST rebate and CNY. And also, blessed is the single life (which girl wants to hear “dear lets go for a grass buffet” anyhow?!)

Here’s to the next few months, because the last thing I ever want is to have curry puffs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Till then!

Sorry that I have neglected posting about Dunman as of late, but I’ll get back to that pronto 🙂 cheers!

Dunman – 10 years hence. Set One

Holy shit. Ten years have elapsed since I first stepped into the secondary school which would become the defining portion of my youth. And despite all the memories that have come in between since, I can still remember, clear as a bell, the first time I passed its gleaming gates…and it was not the most pleasant experience.

More on that later. But first, allow me to relate the circumstances in which in found myself in that peculiar predicament. After all, this institution has played such a large part in me growing up, it isn’t something I can just…you know, jump straight into.

BIG FISH, SMALL POND

Back in primary school, I felt I had the aptitude to take on mathematics and science at the next level. It wasn’t plain narcissism – my grades were showing real promise in that regard. My father had the same sentiment as well, and so tried to push me into getting a spot in the upper-crust NUS High School of Mathematics and Science. Man, wouldn’t that look good on my credentials, I thought. So I dreamed the pretty dream, and hoped that I could join other nerdy-looking maths whizzes in furthering our knowledge in the fields of alphanumerics, calculus, and the life sciences.

I'm the cutie on the left. How well would I really have blended in?

I’m the cutie on the left. How well would I really have blended in?

How wrong I was to find, however, that there was a caveat: I had to be admitted into the special stream. PSLE came and went, and to my dismay found that my Chinese was a pathetic B. Boo. Express stream had to suffice (I was a bit of a snob back then), and I had to recalibrate my plans – something I will be doing a lot of throughout the next decade of my life. Feeling that I had few options (even I am snorting at my past self as I type), I sought my form teacher’s guidance.

Mdm Norsham has had many years of teaching behind her by the time she came to my batch, and was also by then scheduled to be transferred to a school in Jurong (seriously?), so I was one of the last to receive her advice on the future that lay ahead.

“There was once a student who, like you, wanted to strive for a spot in a great school, but failed to do so. She decided that she would enroll into Dunman Secondary and, to her pleasant surprised, found she could cope very well, and she thrived.”

I gave her a rather quizzed look, and there she read my face and concluded:

“It’s better to be a big fish in a small pond, than to be a small fish in a giant one.”

It was then I decided that, oh well, why not try this school for a change? I had lived in Tampines, two bus stops down from there, for all of seven years, yet I have not given this place, or indeed any place in the area, any forethought. It would take me some time to see its true value, but when the time came I thanked my lucky stars for that one-off decision. Strange to think that, for my year, the cut-off point was 229, which was incidentally also my PSLE T-score, as well as that of over half of my first class, 1F.

A FRESH START

I didn’t cope well to new environments, and was therefore slightly unnerved when I set off for the school’s Sec 1 orientation camp. Of the proceeding days I can recall little, apart from the fact that 1) the first friends I made were Khoo Wei Jie, Natasha Chan (who with Kai Siang will become the bane of my Sec 1 class existence haha, water under the bridge now), and Larry Lau (RIP dear friend), 2) we slept in the football field in pitched tents, and 3) I was the narrator for my class skit during the talentime. That, however, was enough to kick-start my next 4 years there and, to be honest, I did suddenly feel a surge of excitement about what this new chapter will bring.

And so, we come back to that fateful morning 10 years ago, when I happened to run past the school gates a smidgen past 7:25am – a habit that will plague me throughout all my years there. As so happens it being the very first day of school, Dunman’s discipline master, Mr Bernard, stood by the gates, ensnaring any unfortunate latecomer into his laser-guided, hawk-like death stare. Me included, and for a first-timer like me, it was almost literally piss-inducing.

We had to stand there through the national anthem and pledge, and when those were done, the student councilors would take the known recalcitrants to task.

“Why are you late? Huh?!” Came Mr Bernard’s voice, booming in the crisp morning air, his finger pointed straight…at me.

I shuddered, and stammered. “Err, I-I, erm, I, sorry, I oversssslept.” I remember distinctly avoiding his stare, casting my eyes upon the ground. I thought I might burst into tears right there and then.

He folded his arms. What a typical excuse. “You’re Sec 1, right?” he asked, noting the conspicuous absence of my name-tag.

I muttered “Yes” sotto voce, and gave a weak nod. First day and on the wrong side of the discipline master, what foul luck.

“Don’t let me catch you coming late again. Go join your class!”

I was almost as surprised as I was relieved. After saying a curt “thank-you”, I quickly dashed down the foyer to join up with my classmates. He was the one man I feared, yet also one whom I deeply respected, just one in a long list of teachers and educators I would meet throughout whose influence would deeply touch and enliven me. All these years later, I would still find myself smiling whenever I think of those days, the days when my life truly began. Would my life have been better in another school? Perhaps. But I can not think of one which could have been more enriching and memorable. And that, my friends, is an opportunity cost too dear to pass upon.

This is the first set of a few I am planning to publish in the coming days and weeks. 2015 is also special because it’s been 20 years since Mr Toh, Dmnchoir’s conductor, took the helm, and brought an ethereal joy to so many batch of student choristers. So yes, there will be plenty to write about yet!

Till then, have yourselves a very happy New Year 🙂

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Help me. Please.

(Dear reader, you must understand that I tend to type my thoughts and emotions out way better than I can speak, which is why outwardly I may look OK sometimes – my face often betrays my true feelings – but once on paper or blank page I can organize my thoughts better and pen them out with ease. I am sorry if this is not plainly obvious; talking about my problems has never been my strong suit. And I hope by identifying my own flaws, I can make the first step to close the rift which has now become uncomfortably wide.)

Things aren’t looking as bright as they ought to be.

I’ve just turned 22, the event which I am helping to plan is just around the corner, and I’ve made more friends than I could ever have imagined in all my years of life. I had thought that at least I would be happier, more fulfilled in what I am doing and with whom I am interacting. For awhile, this ideal was in place.

Then the rosy tint started fading. Deadlines come in hard and fast (eh eh cactus?), and I have been getting by on little sleep, something that was inconceivable even in the army. My studies are slipping far behind quickly, and my parents are beginning to question more vehemently my increasing absence from home up till the wee hours (and they know I have 8.30am classes the very next day). I have been getting major lethargic spells, and my colds have become more severe.

They are of course not unique symptoms of people who are doing what I do, and these issues will hopefully quickly dispel once December rolls around. What I have mentioned, however, are just minor compared to what I fear I may have, something which I, and any sane human being, dread: social isolation.

PROLOGUE

If anyone has known me long enough, they would understand that I am an introvert to the core. Human interaction has, for a major part of my life, been one of the other party making the first move. As such, my circle of friends in my first 2 decades has been very small – not that it’s a problem anyways – something that I nevertheless wanted to try breaking out of in Poly.

Joining Freshman Orientation 10/11 as a facilitator was an eye-opener for me. It introduced me to a great many new people (sadly most I have ceased talking to), and showed me the way forward in making friends, however fleeting. However, the experience came a little too late, and so I graduated from SP a relative recluse, leaving me determined to revive this joyous feeling in uni.

I am one who is acutely aware of my flaws; as a result, I take any form of criticism of me very gravely…and then bottle them up and leave to fester. While I am not quick to anger – outbursts from me are extremely rare (and as such very, very explosive) – it is all too easy for me to break down if that is really one’s intent. I cry easily too (yes, sue me), which makes me a sort of weird rarity, and when I say “weird” I mean “what the hell is up with that guy?”.

Also, because of my interovertedness, I honestly do not have the energy to interact with other people for long. Once my battery is drained, I usually would slink to a corner to have some time to myself – to reflect, contemplate, and get some form of serendipity in a bustling world (a reason why I LOVE classical music. It’s the perfect refuge for the mind, and I can stay there for hours).

THE TICKER

Joining City Venture is one of the proudest moments of my life, seriously. The me from 4 years ago would be hopping with envy over how I managed to get into the SRC (Student Representative Council) at all. My hope was to be able to do something fulfilling for once, and to widen my circle of friends. To these ends, they have been largely achieved, albeit with a massive hiccup which is recurring frighteningly quickly.

That hiccup? Being left out by the very people I ought to be close to.

I do not think that this is inconspicuous, in that I have raised this issue just a couple weeks before. The problem was band-aided over, and things seemed to improve momentarily. But band-aids only cover the problem, not eliminate it, and now the wound has re-opened at an alarming rate.

I often find myself being left out of conversations which I usually cannot get anyways (internal gossip can be such a bitch to fathom), and me poking in is perhaps the most unusual and awkward thing I can imagine at the moment, which is why I prefer not to butt in and let them hold their bubble intact while I am “content” in my own. There are a few who know my problem now, but to the true extent of it I think they are all unaware.

If I must give an indication about how bad it is now…sometimes I think about whether people would notice at all if I disappeared completely, like a hamster scurrying from an open cage into the darkness of the night, never to be seen again. Yes, I am afraid I overthink. My brain is on perpetual overdrive on such matters. But if I am going to such frightening scenarios to find answers, then there is indeed something truly wrong.

There is merely perceived closeness between me and the others; like a gloss, superficiality reigns supreme. I rarely feel any form of deeper connection which would tighten bonds, like two ends of a bridge being held together with string and paper. The last thing I want is for that to break, losing this connection forever, especially after the event ends, where there will be no regular meetings, no objective to strive towards to hold us together. It’s a sad thing to be a stranger in your own committee, but that is what I am feeling now.

I want to connect, but I cannot find any common ground between myself and you.

Call me an emo, but that’s how it is right now. I couldn’t feel any shittier, even if I wanted to.

REMEDY-READY

To me, this is a two-way street, though I am doing a crap job at doing my part. There is more to just saying something to someone or a group, it is whether they really want my input as well. As of right now, everyone seems just fine without me. There is a hollowness, a transparency to my presence which makes me feel out of place or worse, unnecessary.

There is no obligation to speak to me, but at least give me the assurance that I am worth speaking to. While I may be as interesting as dried paint, and lack any sort of real vibrancy and charisma (all of which I can and will work upon – or am I overthinking this shit again), even a stiff wooden board like me has feelings.

Connections cannot be forced for the sake of it. If I am a horrible/horribly boring person, please tell me and not leave to gossip. Teach me how to fix myself in these regards, as I am as good at keeping friends as a snail is at winning drag races. My tastes differ from the norm massively (classical music, punk rock, the Universe, general knowledge and British comedy are my interests, so I guess that makes things even harder), and I far prefer deep conversations to gossip.

Perhaps this is the true reason why I keep so few friends over the years.

EPILOGUE

Writing all this out is a way for me to vent my frustration and fears, but even this has its limits. Sometimes I feel that I would hold in so much that I might just collapse into an amalgam of rage and sorrow. I only hope that it can reach out and help people at least grasp a little of my mind, and what it holds inside, since I am so quiet and strange in real life.

In time to come, I hope to be able say that we are still close friends. In time to come, it is not the success of this event that would make the difference.

It is the hope that we can be as we are in old age as we are now that keeps me enlivened. The last thing I ever want is to fade into obscurity, because then there is no longer any meaning in life if to everyone else I am merely a stranger. No amount of money or status can change that fact.

Till next time, and to happier times.

Goodnight.

Eight Months?!

And suddenly, eight months just flew by…

In all that time, I have

  1. Left military service
  2. Travelled overseas (no, Malaysia doesn’t count) for the first time in 5 years
  3. Started full-time uni study
  4. Made loads of awesome new friends (and thereby reviving my flagging social life)
  5. Found the cure for Ebola
  6. Gotten into a relationship.

Things are moving fast in my life, and before I know it, 2014 will be over and a brand new year will dawn upon me, and all of us. I have just started with my term of study at SIM through University of London International Programmes; more specifically, I’m in the BSc (Hons) Banking & Finance degree course. It’s easy enough applying and getting admission into such a course, local prestige a la SMU/NUS/NTU be damned, but it’s another matter altogether graduating from the place on time and with your mind in one piece…if you manage to graduate at all.

I have also joined a CCA into which I intend to pour my heart and soul; hopefully, it will quell the ghosts of my past regrets of not taking a more active role in school, me being the introverted, shy boy that I was. Being in the student council has brought me purpose, and I intend to make full use of my role within it to spread a little bit of joy to others.

Also, in a political-analytical sense, I, being free from the clutches of the army (for now), can dedicate more time to penning my thoughts and opinions on various matters that affect us as a whole. I know I have to, I am old enough to vote. And no, I’m not going to be some Roy Ngerng-esque blogger who convulses every time I see the terms “PAP” or “CPF” for, simply put, I am not prepared one bit to be sued.

Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

Oh, her. Han Hui Hui. I won’t say much, except she acts (and in all probability is) like a complete prat, complete with that voice of hers – or is that someone scratching the blackboard with fingernails?

Look, given the circumstances of the Drama @ Hong Lim Park last Saturday, whether there was heckling, marching, shouting or not, who was right or wrong, whatever, the point of the matter is, she behaved and spoke like a little kid whose favourite toy just got confiscated/snatched away. I won’t even begin to describe the situation, just get on Youtube and watch it to believe it.

Even if her facts regarding our CPF are indeed true – and I’m starting to take a couple pinches of salt here – her deplorable attitude at the event quickly evaporated any chance of me ever taking her seriously. Lots of people are distancing themselves from her, and for good reason. She is gonna be fighting fires for a good long time to come…and she sure as hell will never represent me, or any sane being, in Parliament.

Right, anyway the point of this post is to say that I am back. I cannot promise regular postings like before, but I hope to put at least one in every week. To anyone at all who reads this blog, I don’t know how to thank you. Without you, I might as well be writing all this on my bedroom ceiling. So, *deep bow* VIELEN DANKE!!!

Till the next post!~

“Big mouths and small brains make the strangest noises.”
― Orrin Woodward

“Take care of a…

“Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them.”

-Bob Dylan

Today, I met with 17 other people. And not just any 17 people, mind you.

We did, over 6 years ago, our O levels together. Practice paper after practice paper, night lesson after night lesson, we survived everything the Singapore education system (and indeed Dunman) could throw at us. And in the end, we reaped the rewards. Together.

Though it was not for long, it was meaningful. There were timeless topics, and there were new ones, a la auntie-at-Chinese-New-Year-gatherings. We had many laughs, and some red faces. And that was all that mattered.

Only half the class showed up but, given the circumstances, it was an extremely healthy turnout. As time progresses, it will certainly become much harder to achieve such stellar numbers for a class gathering. To all my 4D’08 classmates – there are things we no longer can relive, so I will take care of all of you as a living memory of who we were going forward. Things so beautiful aren’t easy to forge once again.

Hope Time will be kind enough to permit our gathering once more in the near future. 🙂

Hello dear friend.

Larry,

It’s been a long while since we last visited you, which is why we decided to do so once Jessica has returned from Australia and hey, isn’t it a coincidence that last Thursday was Chinese New Year eve? Seven months have passed, but the light of your memory is not one watt dimmer.

The place was hot and acrid from all the smoke and people milling about, but that didn’t matter. It’s a good thing Alvin knew where you were, otherwise we’d be spending more time wandering around like country bumpkins on a road trip to nowhere. And when we finally met, my heart thumped. But of course; it’s been too long.

Looking at you (or your plaque, rather), I can’t help but be filled with so many memories and emotion. What was I to say? What was I to think? All I could do was to sigh, and wonder why Life can be so cold as to wrest you from fulfilling your dreams and ambitions. You always seemed to be talking about it, if not your illness – your grand optimism that lit even the darkest, loneliest rooms.

Stickers adorn the ceramic plate and, the centrepiece of them all, a small koala hangs from the top, a reminder of your youth. Not far from you is another of Life’s tragedies: a young boy of only eight. It seemed, at that time, that the good truly die young.

We are doing fine now; Jess is about to finish her studies in Melbourne; Boon, Alvin, Bin and myself are still in the army (with Bin signing on as a regular), while Amanda and Weizhen are working. Circumstances, rather than pull us apart, as only served to bring us closer together, and I only wish that you were here to follow us through.

I do not know what else I should say, but this – we miss you. And we promise we will visit you soon again, hopefully for longer than we last did. And one day, soon or late (hopefully the latter), when I have drawn my last breath, I may see you again.

Scientists presumably say that in the near future people will eliminate cancer from their lives and live to be a thousand years old, but why would I want that? All I wish is for a natural life – a thousand years just screams living with regrets and unfinished business. But I wished that the transplant could have saved you, if it means you were able to then live a normal, natural, happy, fulfilling life.

Bis bald, mein sehr guter Freund.
~

“Music is a mor…

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
– Plato

The genres of music I gravitate towards are pretty contrary to popular trends and styles of people my age, but I don’t mind. I love what I love, and no member of popular society can sway me otherwise. Will write more in my next post, but right now’s it’s late and I have to prepare to head back to military camp. Goodnight!
~

A uniquely Singaporean sort of anger

Just this morning, the highly-anticipated registration launch of the Electric Run opened, promising early-bird deals and free hoodies to those who have been eagerly waiting (like vultures to a carcass) for months. At publication time, it has garnered well over 55,000 likes on its Facebook page. Whoa! Singapore of course has only just recently become acquainted with concept runs like these, which naturally makes us people jump for joy and not run at all when the starting horns blare. And as time goes by, they only seem to get even more popular than before.

However, the seeds of discontent has been sown, right from the get-go. Tens (?) of thousands of people hurled themselves upon the floodgate which is the registration page, only to find that a familiar error page that pops up when you want it least (and especially when you want a $10 discount and a hoodie. Ugh, always!) has made itself right at home. Whelp, this doesn’t sound good.

Electric Run Singapore then posted the following on its wall, cementing the Singaporeans’ fears and suspicions:

This is crazy Singapore! There were over 50,000 people on the Active site trying to register. Unfortunately this load crashed their site. We are working with Active to get their site back up as quickly as possible. We will keep you all updated. We are very sorry for the frustration and thank you for your patience!

No prizes then for guessing what sort of reactions have come forth.

But really, if you want to know what was said, just take a look at that post. Every single top comment has some unhappy tone to it. I shan’t be bothered to write them all down.

While I understand that people want the best deals, what I don’t get is why that incessant hard-on for being that early-bird? I am also eager to get myself registered (through a friend, of course, but they won’t have access to credit payment till evening), but eventually, I have found that, sitting down and watching this geyser of vitriol spew forth on the organisers, paying that extra $10 is far more worthwhile than staring with frustration at the computer screen, minutes ticking away, while you really ought to be someplace else doing something productive. Got to be in class? THEN BE IN CLASS! Because in the end, what would you rather lose? An additional tenner, or your precious time and patience?

Another gripe I’d like to highlight is the propensity of the posters to apply the “poor organisation” conclusion to the entire event. By saying that I mean if registration sucks, then the run itself will likely suck as well, according to the highly displeased. I would not have argued with that point, if not for the fact that I have also participated in The Color Run in August last year. When the time came for the race pack to be collected, people found themselves stuck in queues for hours on end, and the event’s Facebook page soon became mired with comments of an increasingly vitriolic nature. Amongst the most common unhappy boxes of verbiage was the sentiment that race day itself will also see people caught in queues longer than the actual event itself.

Because my race day was on Saturday, I too was worried that, being the first of its kind in Singapore, things could go south pretty quickly for this otherwise colourful run. I prepared as much as possible by bringing as little as I could, as advised. Six hours later, I came home from Sentosa, having had the best of days. And not just me – people soon starting asking when The Color Run will return again (and I heard it’s pretty soon – with better race pack collection procedures just to be sure).

Colourful ending to a colourful day

So my point here is this – yes, the organisers could have done a better job with planning how registration (and indeed race packs) could have been managed, and mistakes such as these do warrant an apology, BUT 1) it’s useless getting worked up over issues which are beyond your control, since anger does not make registration go any faster than it already is, and 2) I’m sure the run will be awesome, no matter how long it took for your payment to get through. Ultimately, all you picked was the wrong time to act.

Stop the vitriol and unhappiness, Singaporeans. After all, even with all this quibbling and arguing, if the run goes well, I’m sure even the one with the unhappiest time waiting for the receipt to be delivered will be back begging for the event to return. A couple of months should do the trick. After all, isn’t it the same as well in politics, huh?

Let’s just have a rocking good time – and I’ll be there on the 11th!

You know you’ll like it…anyways

~

“Don’t marry th…

“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.”
-James C. Dobson

To Ruth and Oliver, who are now blissfully married (if you read this at all haha):

This quote I think best fits the notion of being together for the rest of your lives, however young and naive I am on its blessings and shortfalls. Given what I’ve seen, it does look like a match made in heaven. I wish you both all the best in the purest of unions, and that you can be that individual you can’t live without to the other for the rest of your lives.

And, as your pastor cheekily added – “go forth and multiply!”
~

There’s gonna be plenty more weddings I’ll be attending this year, amongst them that of a teacher I am close to. If there’s one thing to worry about in this day and age, it’s the sanctity of marriage. The media nowadays seems to treat it as little more than signatures on a piece of paper which can be torn at any moment. Still, I’m sure these marriages I have and am about to witness will be full of bliss and many, many, many years of unadulterated happiness.

I too hope to be married eventually to someone who loves me unconditionally, and whom I can love unconditionally in return. I’ve yet to meet that girl, but I hope to know she’s the one once our eyes meet.

Here’s to the institution of marriage. May its value never diminish, even though the media and, indeed society itself, intend us to think otherwise.
~

Pride and Pragmatism – On the Steph Micayle Effect

A couple of my army mates showed me this video from a to-me hitherto unknown vitriol-spitting girl (K-POP ain’t my thing, sorry) which shows her giving reasons why she isn’t proud to be Singaporean this past Thursday. On that, she needs no introduction, more so if you’ve following her on K-POP Starhunt, though being in camp makes sourcing for news sources difficult (read: I am a lazy bum).

Turns out my friends are in complete unison with whatever she’s saying, stating that 1) there’s no hope for Singapore going along like this, 2) they’d rather void their votes rather than “use this semblance of a right” and, most importantly, 3) they’ll get the hell out of here as soon as it is practical.

They see no light at the end of the tunnel, if it even ends at all, and to be honest I empathize with them, for no amount of talking in the contrary will change their minds with regards to the prospects of this country. I heartily wish them all the best in whatever they endeavour to accomplish. They are indeed extremely determined people with clear goals in mind, and I respect that, as I do Steph’s tough talk.

Some meanwhile have taken up her challenge on why we ought to be proud, with posts such as these. Pretty impressive stuff. Others spit yet more vitriol in return, spreading the hate and creating this “us vs them” schism which should never have been created. She has her reasons, so do you. If you expect that your opinion is to be respected, always make sure you do the same for that of others. Except the one and only poor sop hiding behind the Heather Chua moniker.

For one, I haven’t been so optimistic about where this country’s going – in 2011, as the dust of General Elections had just begun to settle, I wrote an opinion piece (18-year-olds can’t vote here, then and now) that left a clouded, possibly biased cliffhanger as to where Singapore is going with all this political riff-raff. Back in the 2006 edition however, I admit I was only amused by the name of one Tan Lead Shake who was contesting in the ward I live in.

Being alongside these army pals – and many, many, many others, I must add – for 5 days a week for the past 16 months in a military camp has certainly clouded my judgement over our country’s prospects. To the rest of the world, Singapore is a beacon of modernization and globalization. For many who have grown up here however, things only seem to be going south. And then some.

Transportation systems, many say, are overloaded and increasingly inefficient (guess who’s the Minister for Transport and his motley crew of SBS and SMRT CEOs?) and frankly, the fare changes are pretty fair, and far along in its implementation. I’m hoping someone’s listening, because every time I think of Mr Lui Tuck Yew, all I can have him relate to is a bunch of mushrooms.

We Singaporeans are a bitterly pessimistic bunch, here’s to note, though not always simply for the sake of it (the increase in income inequality is one serious issue that must be addressed first and foremost). I want to be optimistic, but this air of negativity hanging all over the place is making things hard for me. I grow worried about my career prospects. How am I to hold a job? Have a family? Raise children? Retire comfortably? In the end, I don’t want to die with debt still stuck to my name. From what I hear, achieving this is becoming a greater challenge as the years advance. Every day I hear more and more people expressing their desire to fly the coop, and found new roots in fresh pastures green. Surely that isn’t a good sign.

I believe enough has been said about what’s to be (or not to be) proud of being a Singaporean. I am neither, actually – my heart doesn’t burst with pride when I hear the national anthem (it gets a little difficult when one has to sing it every weekday morning in school for 10 years), but whenever I see tourists looking out the MRT windows, I really hope they are impressed with what they see – and to be honest, I have not truly seen the world. I do not wish for Singapore to be only place I’ll be, for that will be pretty depressing stuff for someone of this generation. University offers me that tentative first step to travel further afield.

Maybe there is some place out there, calling out to me, urging me to spend the rest of my life there. Maybe I’ll say, “I’ve found a place to live in which is actually better than Singapore”, the utopia my friends have long been inditing about. But then again, to each his own, and we all have our own perfect little place to huddle in. And in the end, I may find that Singapore is truly the only place I can truly call home. But then, the Government has to listen. We have to contribute. Things must change, or in the worst-case scenario, this becomes the Monte Carlo of the East, the playground for the rich.

If it goes down to that, then there will no longer be a home to speak of here.

As what 18 year-old me wrote back in May 2011…check back in 2 years. Time flies, huh.
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