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Raymond Han

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Monday with the Editor: Live and let live


My e-mail mailbox has been piling up with more than the usual number of messages recently. I have had to sift through quite a number of them to get at the 'real' e-mails.

In addition to the numerous messages requesting me to come to the aid of Mrs Obutu or some similar name, there are those exhorting me to buy Viagra. Last week, I spotted quite a few messages coming from a Yahoo Group known as Sg_Review. I counted at least seven new ones from this group just for last Friday alone.

As far as I could remember, I had not ever signed up with Sg_Review's mailing list, but apparently, my e-mail address had somehow entered this group's mailing list. So, for the past week, I had been bombarded with eye-opening articles circulated among the group's members.

Here are the headers of some of their messages: Juggling with knives in Singapore's ties with the US, Amnesty criticises Singapore, CPF holders coerced into buying health insurance from GLC. And the list goes on. I think you will agree with me that such messages are essentially hate mails - you know, the sort people send to those who have fallen out of love with them.

I visited their Web site and found two things:

1. The group seems to be based in Australia

2. The Web site says they have 1651 members.

Now, back to my earlier proclamation of their messages as "eye opening". Yes, after reading through the articles they circulated, I found myself opening my eyes to the realisation that some chaps who say they are Singaporeans have surfaced from abroad to hit us Singaporeans.

You may ask why I say that these people are hitting us Singaporeans when their articles target the present government in power. The answer's simple. We Singaporeans have been enjoying prosperity for the past 40 years or longer. We have been leading a good life. And Singapore, I daresay, is one of the safest places in the world to live in. I can go out anytime of the day or night and not feel threatened. We have worked hard so that we get to enjoy the income that has given us much purchasing power, much to the envy of our neighbours.

The economy is now not in too good a shape because of the recent Iraq war and the SARS outbreak. We Singaporeans are in a vulnerable position presently. We need to recover from these shocks, but before we can do so, some so-called fellow Singaporeans have ganged up, purportedly from overseas, to hit us - by disseminating hate-the-government messages to sow discord among us Singaporeans. 

The weaker among us may wobble under their influence. The stronger may be able to reason out their hidden agenda and take no notice of such messages. But, what of foreigners around the world to whom some of these messages have been sent. Will they think that we Singaporeans are indeed living in a tyrannised society?

Every morning, I get up and go about my routine. I may meet some civil servants who are not so polite to me and I write in to complain to those in charge. When I make a U-turn at places where there are no U-turn signs, I get a summons from a traffic cop but I am not complaining. I took a chance and I got caught - plain and simple. And I get to go where I want to, whenever I want to. There's nobody restricting my movements - except my wife, of course, who is the only dictator that I know of in Singapore.

Now, isn't that what we people ask out of life? Isn't that freedom? I have been living here since I was born 45 years ago and I have never once thought I was not a free man. Not even when I grudgingly enlisted into compulsory national service and suffered terribly because of my weak physique. The thought that I wasn't a free man never once crossed my mind. I knew I had to train to protect my Singapore and even today, I am proud of having done my time in national service and reservist duties. I am proud I am leaving a safe Singapore for my descendants.

Therefore, I am disturbed when I read the messages being circulated within and without Sg_Review because these messages make us Singaporeans to be subservient and ignorant of our rights. The people behind Sg_Review would have us and foreigners believe that we are writhing in pain here in Singapore and grasping for every chance we get to escape from this hell hole.

You and I know pretty well that life is good here and perhaps better than many other places in the world. We may be riding through some rough spots now but hey, we are hardworking chaps. When it comes to the grind, we know we will survive any ordeals thrown at us, because we know of no other home but this Singapore. We have a stake in its future.

So, why are there people out there purporting to be Singaporeans and yet trying to break our resolve to leave behind the legacy of a better tomorrow for our children and their children? For the life of me, I just can't fathom these people's thinking. If they have no place here in Singapore, then, they should forget Singapore and carry on with their lives in countries such as Australia - live and let live, I say. 

But, they shouldn't jump at every chance to poke us Singaporeans in the back, especially in these trying times. If they really can't forget Singapore, I would suggest they revisit their past and reminisce the good times they have had here. And they should remember the rest of us Singaporeans in Singapore are now still enjoying the good times here - bad times or not. After all, it's a place we call HOME!  

NEW WEB SITES is the official SARS Web site in Singapore. It pools together SARS-related information from all Singapore Government sites and presents it for various local and foreign audiences. It also contains the latest SARS-related press releases and selected media articles.

Click New Web sites for the rest of the list.

We are now 5380 pages thick and growing.

Public Holidays NATIONAL DAY is the next public holiday. It falls on Saturday 9 August 2003.



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2 June 2003

Singapore Time