Friday, May 05, 2006


Its been a wild ride for many. This 14 days of freedom. As the last vote slips into the ballot box, each one of us returns to our conditioned existence. We've used up our leave in Singapore Inc. Back to our work lives.

There will be many emotions among us, the once free, especially in cyberspace tonight and tomorrow. The media will unleash its prepared celebrations. To gently lead us all back from the threshold, away from the precipitous edge.

For those who felt the euphoria, the joy these few days, standing at Hope's edge, what will happen once the last vote slips into the ballot box may be cruel, even painful. Freedom retreats like a receding wave, leaving behind a beach littered with fragments of hope, shells of selves, pieces of memories.

And in this condition, dislocated in space, disjunctured in time, the machine drugs you again, pulls you into its cold embrace. A machine fuelled by cynicism, powered on despair.

"I have often considered the possibility of leaving Singapore, because the more I find out about how Singapore is governed, about the incalculable losses faced by silent generations, the more I feel myself plunging into a deep, eternal winter of disillusionment and heartache. You make me want to say. I send my love as a fellow Singaporean."

But you have not left, Alfian. And even if you do leave, it makes you no less a Singaporean. And even if you do leave, it is the failure of Singapore. Not you. A failure of Singapore who can offer only a conditioned, a premised love. Not you.

But I fear for the many who may and who will enter the "deep, eternal winter" tonight. They banish love, not because of love but because of the loss of love. They deny freedom, not because of freedom but because of the loss of freedom.

The drug administered in that cold embrace is not for sleep, it is for you to forget. The memories of last night, the feel of freedom scattered like ashes across time.

Believe. As freedom receded, it left behind fragments of memories, fragments of the un-silenced. It left something for you. It did not abandon you. Fragments which call out to you before you accept the cold embrace and enter the "deep, eternal winter" of forgetting. Hold on. Hold on to these fragments. In your memories. Don't let go. Don't forget. Remember.

Standing in the rain.
The long walk home.
The muddied shoes.
The flags.
The joy.

At Hope's edge. Hold on. Don't let go. Don't forget. Remember. When the wave returns, it will recollect these fragments and bring us away from the "deep, eternal winter".

In your memories.

Don't let go.

Don't forget.


Quotes of the Day --

"Hold on to love
Love won't let you go
Hold on to love
See the sunlight in her song
See the sunlight in her soul

I love you because I need to
Not because I need you
I love you because I understand
That God has given me your hand
He holds me in a tiny fist
And still I need your kiss" - U2, Luminous Times

"Ashes of Time" - Wong Kar Wai


Anonymous parkaboy said...

"[...] even if you do leave, it makes you no less a Singaporean. And even if you do leave, it is the failure of Singapore. Not you. A failure of Singapore who can offer only a conditioned, a premised love. Not you."

This quitter used to believe that, but then I wouldn't have left if I felt being a Singaporean left no room for my aspirations, and after practice at being somewhere else, what is left of being Singaporean? Looking at the pictures of rallies has left me with a strange twinge; I have left because community seemed impossible and now, weirdly enough, there it is, but I can't shake the sense that I would be a hypocrite to claim it. I haven't had that courage.

2:38 AM  
Blogger gayle said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:28 AM  
Blogger gayle said...

I know you're good at doing what you do, and no one does it quite like you, but really, the overwhelming melodrama of it all!

Post after post seems to suggest that we live in a fascist and totalitarian police state whose corrupt and power-hungry rulers are bent on our complete suppression, and that we must be rabid freedom fighters chanting jingos, wearing masks and calling each other Jacques.

I don't think there's a need for such angst and bitterness and rhetorical overdosage. Yes, it's true the opposition isn't given a level playing field, and it's true that the ruling party's tactics are unethical and insulting to our dignity and intelligence, but I hardly think I'll find myself in a "beach littered with fragments of hope, shells of selves, pieces of memories" after GE 2006. My Self will be quite intact, thank you very much.

It's a slow and steady uphill battle, that's all. These 15 days were wild, fun, and fresh. But they don't end there. Singapore today is the same nation that we return to tomorrow. In some ways the same Singapore that's always been here. A nation where if you really want, if you really try, if you really want to give it a go, you CAN hold on to your faith and ideals. It will be a harder task, certainly; a less rewarding one, and a far grittier endeavour in comparison to this sojourn of GE. But if you really want to sell a T-shirt with a white elephant on it, go ahead. If you really want to be vocal in your political opinions to your peers and those around you, go ahead. If you really want to blog, go ahead. Be careful but be strong, and we can make change, reforming the system from within: not without.

I value your posts, I really do, else I wouldn't be visiting every day. I even deleted the post I originally wrote before this because I didn't want to seem dismissive of what you say. But I get so concerned sometimes because when I read your later posts my mind conjures up visions of masked and torch-waving anarchists. I really don't feel there's a call for that. Just a simple, quiet, unpretentious call to duty: love thy country.

4:44 AM  
Anonymous uran said...

uh huh. i second gayle. and i hate some of those stupid angmohs trying to give their bigass comments on how messed up Singapore is.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am very disappointed!
I cried after reading your post!
Before you say the truth,

Sometimes the devil wins
66.6% of popular vote..

One day, God will help Singapore...
but will we see that day?

10:20 AM  
Blogger gayle said...

I don't see it as a defeat, actually. My rationale is here:

But essentially I feel this: the opposition gained ground, and the PAP's mandate was weakened. That's what matters. Hougang and Potong Pasir remain standing, even stronger than before, and their rule is being chipped away at. So, chin up :) our time is young.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous sling said...

hmm gayle, just pointing it out, don't mind- but 5 years is not a short time. It's 5 years of everybody wasted youth. It's 5 more years of disillusion with the media, useless political feedback, overwhelming hopelessness for the people in poverty.

I was actually very happy that the opposition retained their two seats and gained more votes throughout. But then I realised, this story has been repeated so many times: thousands turn up at AP rallies, rail on forums and chat in coffeeshops. But what was the result? Inbetween interest in politics faded, and once again, AP have an uphill task come GE. This GE , I saw and recognised the real Singaporeans at rallies but then they vote in their problems again.

I think there is some hope if our younger more informed generation educates the older group. Otherwise, we can only change those of our age. What use is that when we are only still such a small percent?

I read in forums tt they worry that their vote can be traced, they will get into difficulties buying flats, they think an opposition makes no difference. The whole population seems to be impotent with fear. Ppl hold on to their misconceptions and not realise the power of their vote. xenoboy, like YawningBread speaking of his rally experience, is speaking of the deep feelings of democracy that these 14 days have 'tian ran'...

I'm sorry if I seem disillusioned. But I wonder pragmatically if 2011 will even build on this election.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous uran said...

I'm not older generation defintely and i was quite skeptical about the whole voting thing being absolutely secret. the voting booth was so tiny! it's like you want to key your atm pin and there's no real barrier between the keypad and prying eyes. what's more..i was quite horrified they managed to retrieve the video of james gomez bringing home his application's like big brother against your will!

11:50 PM  
Blogger Postmaster-General said...

If hope does not spring eternal, then are we not doomed? With each passing year the older generation dies off, and the younger comes into place. I'd like to think that we're different in outlook from the independence generation.

I'm always hopeful. I think the WP is evolving, and if it keeps up the momentum they'll do well. I can't really say I'd enjoy the WP in power, just as much as I cannot stand the PAP in power. Economically the WP and I don't see eye to eye.

I'm sure 2011 will see a change in both the PAP and WP. I am sure analysts and strategists (i'd like to think our political parties are 1st world) are telling the PAP they need to read the winds that are achanging, and also telling the WP that they are on their way to be crowned the numero uno opposition.

But that's just me being hopeful.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Rong said...

"... even if you do leave, it makes you no less a Singaporean. And even if you do leave, it is the failure of Singapore. Not you. A failure of Singapore who can offer only a conditioned, a premised love. Not you."

I think I kinda know the restrains of Singapore's society (not necessarily the govt.), for I too have chosen to leave, though not permanantly.

It's interesting how differently I see it.I am weary of people who are so quick to unload the responsibility of managing their destinies onto the hands of Singapore (or the govt)itself.

My leaving most definitely cannot be attributed to the failure of Singapore. It is purely a matter of personal choice.

I would even go further to say Singapore provides its citizens the freedom to go wherever they may want to go, to do the many things that the world has to offer.

It disturbs me immensely when young Singaporeans say they are "disillusioned," paint such an helpless picture of themselves and use that as grounds to charge the poor island for oppression.It's very strange, it worries me, it sickens me.

Rather than take advantage of the priviledged lives that our granfathers have busted their asses for, are we just going to mope and whine about our supposedly lousy predicament like bratty children?

It is important to not forget that we are the ones who will be in charge in the near future.

Voting is not the end. It doesn't and shouldn't stop us from acting on our rights as citizens to effect change.

We are free to educate and organize ourselves. We are free to be indepandent activists. We are free to address whaterver issues as independents and do all the good we want for ourselves, with or without the government.

I consider Singapore my home and no matter where I may choose to be, to pursue what I want to pursue in life, my Singapore citizenship is something that I would not give up easily.

Therefore, I consider it a duty to take an interest in the way my country is run, to particpate in public discourse, to think and speak freely. It is very much a premised love.

And to Sling who said,
"but 5 years is not a short time. It's 5 years of everybody wasted youth."

Why would you choose to be paralysed by the limitations when the choice of not wasting your own youth is yours to make?

Being disillusioned is not a bad thing as long as it motivates one to act upon one's ideas and move in the direction of one's vision.

3:23 AM  
Anonymous imp said...

and so we teeter on the edge.

till 2010.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous uran said...

yay! well said Rong! finally no psycho weird banters, victimising and depiction of our scenarios to that of Animal Farm.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is most important is to express you wishes through the vote that you hold. Nobody can tell each of us what to do with that vote and how to cast it, be it the opposition or Lee Kuan Yew. Your vote decides what happens, never mind if it is a defeat this time round. I am a civil servant, working in the military, yet I exercised my rights. I voted for accountability, and I voted NO to unbridled power vested in the hands of one party and one family. Why the fear? There is nothing to fear, for I vote for the future of the state of Singapore, a future that I want to see happen. No one can intimidate me, no one can tell me how I should vote. Freedom is viscereal. The party is not the state, and the state transcends all.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"ask only one question : what stops Singaporeans from moving out of the linearity defined by the Government which remains tightly entwined with the PAP?" A look at how we manage the bird park, zoo and the night safari would give you an indication on what stops Singaporeans from moving out. It continues to dazzle me that even the most majestic birds in the Jurong Bird Park are being let out everyday. They take to the skies, yet they never fail to return by nightfall to their cages. As for the Night Safari, the animals look free arent they? Yes you have some deep drains and electrical fences hidden somewhere. Most are however happy. Some escaped with fatal conseqences (Remember the tiger?).Yet, these theme parks like the Singapore economy are the most outstanding in the world for creating humane and conducive environments for their captives who would probably not survive another minute in the wild-KK

9:15 AM  
Anonymous sling said...

There's been alot of social activism in recent years. You see the increasingly vocal voices in the forums, letters to papers, civic groups, student organising political talks etc. The youth of today are not really saying they can't do anything. On the contrary, they will do it first then ask questions later.

My 'disillusion' stems from the worry after seeing the GE results that we can't change things in the rest of the voting population. I wonder if we moving at odds with the rest of the voting population?

This blog/internet phemonena, afterall, is centered around the core group of below 35s... How long will it take for a different PAP (one that respects the mass intelligence of the people) or even a effective opposition-run government to emerge?

I think reasoning that the older generation will die off and hand over political power to be as morbid a thought as waiting for your parents to die so you can get the inheritance. Not waiting for MML to die are we? Instead of waiting for the older generations to die off, maybe we should engage them- let them see the legacy of their voting decisions come 2011.

Perhaps then it would be easier to vote in the Singapore we all are hoping for in our hearts- when we marked 'WP' in our slips in 2006.

1:51 PM  

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