Dear Leaders of Singapore,
I was born in Singapore in 1990 – the year of great beginnings and start ups in Singapore.
A country that prides in its diversity where race and religion is concerned. A country that has upheld and strove for racial harmony and multiculturalism in every sense of the word. A country that rose from the ground since it gained complete independence in 1965 to a world class nation that is comparable to super powers. A country where people use to joke about not being able to see on the map but holds one of the highest GDPs in the world.
For the past 24 years I’ve lived in this country, I have felt grateful, blessed & safe. Except, right at this point, as a patriotic citizen of Singapore, I feel dispirited.
As of July 16th 2014, the time I wrote this, 214 Palestinians have died with over 2000 wounded.
These are unarmed civilians, most of whom, targeted by Israel at their own homes, places of worship, schools, hospitals etc.
As a proud citizen of this country, I have always valued how our country remains unaffected by international issues which plaques other countries and affect the relationships of their citizens with each other, such as islamophobia in USA & Europe & ethnic cleansing in Africa, Burma & Bosnia. Of course there are hints of racism in our usually racially harmonious society but since the 1964 racial riots, we have made tremendous progress in strengthening trust between our ethnic groups. It is our National Pledge. Our laws charge those who dare incite hate speech or make disparaging remarks against any race or religion under the Sedition Act. My best friends since Secondary 1 is a Chinese Buddhist and an Indian Christian. This is normal for most Singaporean youths. We cant imagine it otherwise.
Our values to and for humanity has been instilled in us since primary school across the nation. Since young, we were taught to stand up for what is right, for justice, for equality especially against bullies and…to say no to drugs. We were also pushed to strive for the best, to be number 1 in everything we do, to achieve as many A’s as we can, as many gold medals as we can. To be top in academics, sports, arts – you name it. Why not, when our country top the ranks in every possible index you can think of – best airport, highest gdp, most busiest port, best city to live in Asia, safest city, cleanest city, least corrupted, best education.. etc and even one of the top few countries with the best military.
The people and leaders of our country are looked up upon and respected everywhere in the world. So please tell us dear Ministers, how can we be so great in almost every aspect a country should be but keep silent where a huge humanitarian crisis is ongoing? In the times where other countries have faced natural disasters and needed aid, Singapore has sent their civil defence, medics, monetary aid and made passionate pledges out loud and clear for the world to hear. That’s the Singapore we know. Why the silence now? Do we keep quiet out of fear? From who? Does the fear and insecurity of weakening bilateral relations win over innocent lives and blood spilled in vain? If there were Singaporeans in Palestine stuck in the crossfire will our leaders step up to bring them home? Does it have to go that far, for our own to be hurt for us to speak up against injustice? As your countrymen, we cannot facilitate a peaceful protest or campaign because your laws don’t allow us to and we respect that because we convince ourselves that our leaders will be the voice of our people. Except there is no voice. Just silence. Where are the strong statements that should come from our cabinet ministers the same way they stand up when Singapore was oppressed?
There are comparable similarities between us and Gaza but the HUGE difference is this. We became free from the horror of our lands. We became free of the Military occupation. Our people no longer had to fear deaths when they walk the streets. Our leaders were free to decide the path we will take for our future, for the people of Singapore.
It has been 8 days of intense firings and bombings which has murdered so many innocent women and children – the youngest being a 9 month old baby.
The city goes dark even at night- except when the missiles strike- as the technicians in charge of vital infrastructures such as water and electricity are afraid to move to repair damages caused by the bombs. This obviously has consequences on hospitals which heavily depend on electricity especially right now.
Unlike Israel, which holds its position as the world’s best military and most advance in defence technology with iron domes over their famed iron walls – Gaza is a tiny, over populated third world STRIP with every entrance and exit blocked with nowhere to run for cover.
Israel has occupied Palestine for the longest time, rejected the United Nation’s partition plans, erased over 400 Palestinian villages and counting & forced the people of Palestine to live as second class citizens in their own country under military rule.
Authored by Noor Mastura
EMAIL: [email protected]