Sunday, July 31, 2005

Nation Buildings.

We had a talk on Tuesday by a representative from the URA...and I was riled beyond the usual by the bald faced bureaucrating that usually occurs in events like this. (Common enough in schools but irritating nonetheless) The added irritation was the fact that it was the URA...bonetopickmuch?


"Why specifically the URA?", one may ask. Well, it's the one section of the government that clearly illustrates the hypocrisy that is inherent in the system, as well as the idiocy. On the one hand, there's the government that says that Singaporeans need to be rooted to Singapore and be proud of its history. Then there's the URA that tears down said history despite the protests of Singaporeans that have gotten attached to said history. What, pray tell, are we supposed to be proud of? The empty space where our National Library building used to stand? Glinting new buildings where old shophouses used to stand? Art Nouveau structures that stand where we used to play as kids? Paved storefronts where Singaporeans used to fly kites?


Now, I don't have a single problem with "urban redevelopment". I'm happy that we're probably the one nation with the highest number of clean toilets per capita in South-East Asia. I'm glad that almost every building on Orchard Road is air-conditioned to a comfortable temperature (i.e. 20 degrees) and I'm happy that I'm not walking down streets lined with buildings that are crumbling to their foundations. I like clean, nay, clinical Singapore despite the antiseptic feel of it. It's comfortable and it's nice. So what exactly is the problem?

The conflicting messages that we're getting from the PA...oops. I meant government. Life's too short to listen to people who haven't quite made up their minds yet I say. They tell us to plant our roots here...then they go ahead and rip up the topsoil. Shyeah. Great way to show us how to stay here. I barely recognise the Singapore that I'm supposed to love. It's like a wife (or husband) who's gone for so much cosmetic surgery that they end up looking like a cross between Pam Anderson and Rupaul. Ugh. See, what I figure is that our dear government has taught us precisely the opposite (i.e. rootless). But what they expect us to do is to stay rooted. It's a perfect example of "do as I say, not as I do". When we follow the example, we're labelled quitters.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy with it one way or the other. If we are to be rootless, let's excel in that. Let's be the people who can pack up and go on a whim, unfettered by sentimentality or cultural infatuations. Our "multiracial society" has taught us to blend in in any culture that we should find ourselves in. Cultural sensitivity and all that jazz...
If we are to be rooted, I don't mind either. Singapore's home. It's a great place to live and it's a nice place to grow old in. (Just as long as you have enough CPF and a sound investment scheme.)
Just one request, please do not ask us to be both. It's confusing and pointless. It's almost like a democracy when there are no other viable alternatives than the one. Or spending $400,000 to feel a little better about a name that you picked a long time ago.

I'll just leave you all with something that we've been learning in logic class:

Let M = Familiar buildings with fond memories for all parties involved.
Let P = Cultural memory.
Let Q = Love for country.

If M then P.
If P then Q.
> M then Q.

If not M then not P.
If not P then not Q.
> Not M then not Q.

Get the picture?

*By the way...if anyone is interested, the official stand for the demolition of ye olde National Library Building was that it "lacked any architectural merit".


Post a Comment

<< Home