Idealism is a good thing, no?

Idealism is a good thing, no?

Li-Ann Sia is the Centre Director of Twinkle Kidz Preschool, a Mandarin-based kindergarten. She is also a mother of two preschoolers and proud Singaporean citizen who is excited and determined to exercise her voting rights this Saturday.

idealism_singapore

Is idealism really a good thing?

17 years ago when I went for an interview to study Medicine at NUS, I was asked this question: What do you think is a problem facing Singaporeans now?

I remember I spoke about rising healthcare costs and ways I thought they could be countered, to which the interviewer (short of sneering) declared that I was “idealistic” and that those measures would never work.

Needless to say, I didn’t get past that interview to read Medicine.

And I naively thought it was wrong to be idealistic and have radical ideas.

Today, the poor and sick are being bankrupted by healthcare. Their entire lifetime savings are wiped out after one surgery. I wish I could march up to that snooty interviewer and rub his nose in these statistics but…let’s not keep score.

Then I became a civil servant. I toed the line, did what I was supposed to do, tried to do my job well, and never questioned anything.

Why? Because speaking up will only draw attention to yourself and mind you, I did not want to be labeled a non-conformist and have my performance bonus blow up in my face. My own dad (still) tells me to shut up, don’t speak up, don’t get into trouble.

I am not taking it anymore.

I am not pro opposition and I am not extremist in my views. I am merely reiterating my stand that I believe Singapore needs a change.

Friends have been asking:

How do you know if this alternative voice government will work to the betterment of our country?

How many opposition members do we really need, to see a change in policy making?

How do you really decide who to choose as the best people to lead Singapore?

I do not know for sure that this alternative-voice govt will really work for the country’s betterment.  Neither do I know exactly how many opposition members do we really need to effect a change in policy making. I can’t even say for certain that if we vote them in, they will champion our causes and speak up for us. And most of all, I don’t know if the opposition candidates can and will solve all the problems facing Singapore right now.

But I just want to trust them and give them a chance.

I hear honesty, conviction, candour and servitude in their words. And these characteristics alone count for much more than what the ruling party is displaying right now.

Just stop all the fear-mongering, insults, threats and low blows already. I scoff at the insinuation that we will live to “regret” by voting for alternative voices into government.  If our ruling party is as great as it has made itself out to be, surely they will not collapse just because a few people are now in there to keep tabs on them?

I am grateful for the old guards of the PAP, people who were courageous, had a vision and a heartbeat for Singapore and got us to where we are today. People who were idealistic and who did not start out with a “track record”. But I have no faith in this new team (well most of them, anyway), because it seems the requirements to be selected are really lax.

Want a huge pay cheque? Just say yes to everything, nod and smile, carry a few babies at walkabouts, throw a hissy fit by stomping your feet or speak like an Ah Beng can already.

All it took was one walkabout to make me realise that much more can be done for our society.

And in the words of a good friend today, he says “my eyes once opened, cannot close back”. I have been apathetic and afraid before, but no longer. Because if we have no ideals in life, then we live without purpose.

And so I reiterate, I am not pro opposition, I am pro change. No one knows how the next 5 years will turn out. But if you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve gotta do something you’ve never done.

This vote that I’m going to hold in my hands is all the more important, because my two beloved children will be growing up in this country.

I want them to have a place they will be proud to call home. I want them to love Singapore the way I do. And most of all, I do not want them to rebuke me because I did not make a stand when I had the chance to. And so, I’m going to do what I think is best for them, as I have always done.

And in my heart of hearts, I know that will be the right thing to do.

 

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Written by

Sandra Ong

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