It is patriot that leads me to this entry. This word and how it sits uncomfortably next to Singapore. The Singapore Patriot. Hardly ever mentioned, hardly uttered in a sequence as this. Patriotic we must be, always that little twinge, on that day in August, when young middle and old gather to witness the paean of Singapore-ness in front of the television. But patriot? Singapore patriot? It remains uncomfortable, the words have a little resistance, a little distance between them. Two, perhaps three, more tabs of the space bar?
Singapore apathy, Singapore cynical. The distance is lessened. It trills more fluently. Rolls out more smoothly. But patriot? It is patriot, we explore. Specifically Singapore Patriot. Dotted here and there in this blog are valuable comments of those who have passed by. There is one particular type of comment that never fails to surface. It is those comments which remind me again and again to be thankful that I am not in Indonesia, Malaysia, Africa, North Korea etc. Reminds me that I am in Singapore. This place of plenty.
Are these not patriots? Patriotic? These patriots who see Singapore goodness only as a function of poverty of the Other. This Singapore Patriot, in an age where we have the ability of a global perception, sees only the evil Other and from this, draws sustenance for his survival. It is like Maliki who sees three cases and sees only evil and greed, a choosing to be homeless; is he a Singapore Patriot? Protecting Singapore from these hordes of the false Poor. It is like Lady Justice in Singapore who sees 15 grams as the defense against the menace of drugs and 15 grams as the decisive weight to hang; even as you read this in the morning, another has hanged, another soul sacrificed in our war against the scourge of drugs, another soul deterrent.
Singapore patriot in this reading, exists only as a reflection against evil, against the bad, against the Other. A relationship derived on misery. Singapore Patriot, willed into existence with a mentality of siege, of exclusivity and the threat of the Other. But surely no one would wear ths mantle, the Singapore Patriot, thus defined. Hence, this distance, this discomfort, this blush, when we locate the two words side by side.
The definition of the Singapore Patriot is the preserve of those ism-writers, those who craft the narratives of patriot-ism, those who lyricise the false songs of patriot-ism. They who tell a patriotic story of Col Adnan, of Lim Bo Seng. They who lace the papers with glowing praise of contemporary Singapore, the Singapore system. They who entwine Singapore with the ruling political party. They who humanise the Singapore Patriot. Except that to the horror of some, the humanised Patriot is almost always Chinese, homophobic, xenophobic, stoic and male.
Quote of the Day --
"Don't be cold Englishman
How come you've never said you love me
In all the time you've known me
How come you never say you're sorry
And I do" -- Sinead O'Connor, This is a Rebel Song