Via SingaporeDaily, I read a few posts about Minister Mentor. And I realize the conceit behind everyone who bashes Minister Mentor and the PAP – be it criticizing their policies or questioning their characters. I too have been guilty of that conceit.
Before I go further, let’s establish my position on a few things:
1. Has Singapore come a long way and accomplished many things since our independence?
Yes, it has.
2. Was there a good foundation to build upon when we became independent?
There arguably was a good foundation to build on.
3. Was it a tumultuous time for a young nation like Singapore with the conditions of the world and the region?
Yes, it was.
4. Was the survival much less the success of Singapore a given?
No, it wasn’t.
5. Were there different paths Singapore could have progressed down?
There probably was.
6. Did we take the best path?
None of us can ever tell for sure. Hindsight is 20/20 vision. If you can, please do not waste your talent and go be a fortune teller or win the lottery or something. Or if you’re really up to it, join the civil service, rise up in ranks and serve the nation.
7. Were Minister Mentor and the PAP responsible for choosing and shepherding us down a good path?
Yes, they have.
8. Now, is the future success of Singapore a given? When I talk about success, I’m not just talking about economic success but success that includes social, political, environmental issues.
No, it isn’t.
9. Does PAP and Minister Mentor have the monopoly on the solutions and ideas to steer Singapore in the best if not right direction?
Of course not.
10. Do they exhibit the tendency to think they know best?
Yes. But I think all leaders need to have some measure of stubborn confidence in their own abilities, ideas, thoughts and decisions.
Now, here is where I feel there is a certain sense of irony. While we criticize Minister Mentor and PAP for being elitist and arrogant and not listening to us, are we not being conceited with the assumption that our opinions have merit?
When we say that there is a better way to do something (even though we might not be clear how exactly) or that something is the wrong way to do something, isn’t that opinion based on some perspective of the world that we have.
Isn’t it conceit to think our perspective is more valid than that of Minister Mentor and the PAP?
And if we are so sure ours is the right one, then why don’t we do something about it. The common excuse is that the odds are stacked against us – that the government has done everything in its power to silence our voice and rendered us impotent.
But is that really the case?
And even if it is, were things that easy for the PAP and Minister Mentor when they argued for independence from the British? Was it that easy for them when we were thrown out of Malaysia?
How can our government ever take us seriously if all we do is talk about how things can be better and how hard it is to be better instead of being people of action?
And how can our government ever take us seriously if we do not know how to win by playing by the rules of the day?
We can choose two things – wait for the day the rules change so that we can get into the game. Or we can play by the current rules and slowly be the ones to push for the rules to change.
So back to my original point. We are all conceited to think that our perspective of the world is valid be it more valid, less valid or equally valid.
But what have we done in our own small little world (let’s start there before talking about the nation or the world) that makes it a little better to back up the opinion that we should be people worth listening to?