Last week my home country celebrated the 70th Independence Day. I could not particularly remember what I did on that day, it was a Monday, the beginning of the week, and I sluggishly brought my pieces back together to work. In the morning as I was scrolling through the social media absentmindedly, posts of greetings and poems about the Independence Day poured out, wishing the country the best in its effort to progress towards a brighter future.
I sighed at the thoughts, not so much because I do not believe in a brighter future at all, but because of the reality that we are faced with presently: the fact that the 70 years that have passed are not a good enough time to make it a competitive country. This sentiment of mine might have been exacerbated by what I experienced in the country that I am currently residing: Singapore.
The week before, Singapore just celebrated its 50th National day. A special one, the golden jubilee, it was a very, very big deal. The preparation had gone a long way back, and the country had many events in store that led up to the jubilee week: SG50-related exhibitions, The SEA Games, Youth Celebrate, coordinated celebrations in schools… And on the night of the National Day, my relatives and I decided to bring our picnic basket and head to the Marina Bay Financial Center, in the hope of getting a good spot to watch the culminating firework show. The whole celebration was a display, a testimony of how much the country has become, from the little fishing village to a country admired globally. I was stunned, looking at the fireworks shooting in the air, and in my mind I was admiring the significance of that testimony.
Of course making a direct comparison between the 2 countries is not very fair. Indonesia is 2600 times bigger in size than Singapore, therefore the technical difficulty in building the former is bigger by many folds. But I think you may agree with me that the smaller country has other qualities that we are lacking e.g. a more transparent public sector, a heavy emphasis on good quality education…
Now, before anyone accuses me for being whiny and unpatriotic, let me say that my point here is NOT to denigrate my own country. In the contrary, I want to share my pensiveness and invite everyone (wherever you are) to reflect on how much this country has become after all these years, and what we can do (in our capacity) to make it better. Let’s use our talents and do our best in our work.
Here is a comic that I did on this subject (featured in Fillet Minis August issue. To read the whole 4-page mini magazine: http://issuu.com/filletmagz/docs/fillet_minis_aug_2015_issuu).