And so, the sparks from the firework festivities of last night have settled, and today marks the first day of your 51st year. Last night’s parade extravaganza was beautifully put together, and brought a smile to our faces and some tears to our eyes. Thank you, Dick Lee, for working your creative magic on that white carpet of our dreams.
For me, there were three most poignant moments during the event.
The first was when the tribute to our founding prime minister was made. The video footage shown is not new to most of us, but seeing those scenes play out to the tune of Our Home, Our Heart, Our Singapore did something to many of our hearts.
One man’s sinking of roots, one man’s passion for his people, one man’s steeling of a nation – these are facts we can’t deny. And seeing the orchids placed on the chair he would have sat in reminded us all that he is now gone. What an incredible legacy! Singapore, what kind of legacy are we leaving to those who will be celebrating our SG100?
Secondly, I was pleasantly surprised to see various MPs all standing on their feet, scarves held high and proud, belting out the familiar tunes like Count on me, Singapore and One People, One Nation, One Singapore with gusto and joy! I wish I had captured a picture from the television screen…It was truly a precious sight to behold.
In just a month’s time, the mood may be a very different one. But that mood, my fellow Singaporeans, depends not on one party or one person, but on every single one of us. I pray that the camaraderie with our fellow man, the respect for our leaders and service crew, the pride of being a Singaporean – that these will not leave us after the night is over, but instead undergird our intentions and our actions in the days and weeks to come.
Singapore, if we stand united, we stand tall and free. A house divided against itself cannot stand. Even as some difficult issues may surface for discussion and debate, there is surely a way of giving opinion without slurring a person’s reputation or casting stones. Please, remember the grace that we have all seen and experienced this weekend. Let it become our way of life in the years to come.
And lastly, I was quite tickled to see President Tony Tan somehow get surrounded by a crowd of performers when he was leaving the arena. Being busy with the boys at that moment, I didn’t see how he ended up in the midst of them, but when I looked up at the screen, there he was.
Taking a selfie with JJ Lin and Stef Sun. Patting the head of a young boy who zipped on by. That gentle smile, and with no indication that he was stressed about making it out in one piece (although I must say, I was worried if he would ever get to his car!).
I’m not really sure why this scene is special to me. I don’t know if it was orchestrated to stir up good-will, but then again, I’m not cynical enough to think that that is the case. Perhaps it gives me a glimpse of what it might look like if our leaders were to be truly in touch with “the ground”. Perhaps, it shows me that they are not averse to trying. Whatever, it is a hope-full scene, and a heart-warming one for me.
Singapore, I couldn’t be prouder to call you my Home. Not for what you have accomplished, but simply because I am part of You, and You are part of me, as a friend so beautifully put it. Together, we will make a difference as we look ahead to the next 50 years. Not be physical might or political clout, not by clever campaigns and lobbying in the streets. It’s not that these things matter, but I am hoping for something more.
It is the you and me that matters most.
I’m talking about the individuals with whom we cross paths each day. The cleaner downstairs, the taxi uncle, the man selling our favourite bak chor mee. It is the friend that we finally make time to catch up with after umpteen years, the spouse whom we have neglected, the children we have nurtured and loved.
It is in the daily giving up of privileges for someone else more in need. It is the choosing to believe in a person instead of cutting them off or bearing a grudge. It is the willingness to go the extra mile for a colleague, a relative, a friend, or that stranger we just met.
Singapore, this Golden Jubilee marks the end of an unforgettable and incredible era in our existence. Now it’s time for a new beginning, as we look ahead. Who will we be? What will we become?