9th August 2011 is the first time that I spent Singapore National Day overseas. Near the date, I surfed the internet to catch up with news and updates from Singapore. [Aside: I would venture to guess that many overseas Singaporeans do the same too.]
A brief history of my migration process for those new to my blog: I first applied for migration back in Nov-2006. 2 years ago on Singapore National Day, I completed the forms for migration. 1 year ago on Singapore National Day, I counted down my final days at work at my previous unhealthy work environment. [Click here and here for more on my nursing experience in Singapore.]
While surfing the net for Singapore updates, I came across the following.
"RunThruSingapore" captures so many familiar sights all over Singapore that bring back fond memories of time spent with friends.
And then there is "Home", which, IMHO, is one of the best Singapore National Day songs written.
So there I was, humming and singing along with Kit Chan on Youtube, when suddenly it hit me... hard! The "this is home, truly" chorus while moving, rang hollow for me if "home" referred to Singapore. Perhaps I am still enjoying the "honeymoon" phase of adjusting to my adopted country. Or perhaps the loner1 in me is having a blast of a time. Perhaps, perhaps...
It came as a surprise to me. Just 2 months ago, I changed my lines while acting in a theatrical play because I kept saying "my home country" instead of "my country of origin" as per the original script, which is the Canadian norm. I thought then that it was a Freudian slip, and that Singapore was still "home" in my heart and mind.
What changed? Not much, and that is precisely the point. IMHO, Singapore remains rather stagnant where it matters, e.g. social justice. Despite the much touted watershed General Election on 7th May 2011, the dominant political party is still calling the shorts and trying to control every power base in Singapore. In fact, the 12th Parliament of Singapore has not held its first session since the May-2011 elections. Yet the dominant political party can still significantly impact the average Singaporean's life through its proxies, e.g. the Public Transport Council. [Addendum on 01-Sep-2011: Or through the People's Association admission that it is not a non-partisan organization despite being run on public funds.]
Recently, I have a middle/high school acquaintance (i.e. secondary school in Singapore terminology) who once again renewed her Green Card although she is already very much integrated into the USA society. When asked why she does not apply for USA citizenship, she cites the difficulty of letting go of the place one grew up in. I understand where she is coming from. Singapore still forms the bulk of my memories. In addition, I have to acknowledge that being born a Singapore citizen and growing up in Singapore has brought me many opportunities and advantages. Nevertheless, my pragmatic side -- groomed by years of Singapore culture -- is also showing me the (likely) potential problems ahead should I choose to return to Singapore. The same issues that set my resolve to emigrate.
Compare this with my Canadian life. With laws, policies and social norms that ensure liberty, good work conditions, affordable public transport, housing, health care, recreation and retirement. The pragmatic in me knows which side of my bread is buttered2.
So speaking as a Canadian Permanent Resident -- this is home, truly!
Note 1: To potentially worried friends reading this blog. Ok, ok, I still organize and/or attend social events from time to time.
Note 2: Btw, I am writing this on my 2 weeks of paid vacation. Yes, I get paid vacation despite being an adhoc, part-time employee in Canada. When will this ever happen for the Singapore labourers?
p.s. All this from me -- someone who used to share "my Singapore" with pride to my foreign colleagues and friends. Someone who, back in the early 1990's, defended the option for LHL to be promoted to PM based on meritocracy when my foreign colleagues ridiculed GCT's promotion to PM as a seat-warmer move. I guess a lot can change in one's thinking, even in adulthood.