Was at a National Day Observance Ceremony, and heard this speech made by Mr Ong Ye Kung, guest-of-honour of the event. He needs no introduction to most people who knows GE2011.
In his speech he outlined his own thoughts about what our national flag represents. We all know that the crimson red stands for universal brotherhood, white for purity and virtue, crescent moon signifies a young nation, and the five stars stand for our five values of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
Quoting from his speech: “What red and white stands for continue to be the everlasting fundamental ethos of our society. But the crescent moon and five stars may take on contemporary meanings and new aspirations.”
While we may no longer be the youngest nation around at 47 years old, he said he hopes that Singapore will “always stay young at heart, and fill our nation with a youthful energy and dynamism that cuts across all ages”.
Our nation is indeed growing old, with low birth-rates and increasing median ages, but our spirit should not therefore grow old and cynical. I met a 70yr old farmer yesterday, still full of zest and energy. He said, there are many old people around, retired, children all grown up, lots of money lying around, can travel the world, but basically dunno what to do with their lives. Some start to waste away, and soon drop dead in no time.
This farmer said he therefore hopes to rent out small plots of land in his farm at low cost, for old people to grow vegetables. He said when one is old, to nurture living things and watch them grow organically brings a certain joy and happiness to them.
Contrasting that to the online culture today where bitterness and cynicism prevails, and everyone seems eager to drag down and destroy everything positive about life. There is so much about life we can celebrate, and social media, internet are great tools for us to build on mankind’s successes and create greater things. Yet, look at what we’ve used them for. The generation pounding away at the keyboards may be young in skin. But their souls are shriveling up.
Back to the Mr Ong’s speeach. He said this about the 5 stars –
1) Democracy – no longer just means we can choose our Government through the ballot box, but now also represent the desire of our people for a more vibrant and healthy democracy, that will embrace more diverse views, and have more debate on how we shape the nation. 2) Peace– not just signifies harmony between our various communities, but peace between people with different views as well. Also peace with our heritage and environment. 3) Progress– not just means economic and material progress, but also progress in social consciousness, public spirit and cohesion. 4) Justice– still a country governed by the rule of law. But at the same time, we want to see social justice, where the more well off will help out with the disadvantaged. 5) Equality– not just applicable to Singaporeans of different communities, between men and women, between old and new citizens.
While some faction of society tries to over-sell the notion of democracy to justify their irresponsible comments online, masquerading as alternative views, they ignored all the other values dear to us.
We forgot to uphold peaceful conversation and dialogue. We forgot to progress in terms of social sophistication to treat others with respect and consideration. We condone injustice in the way people bully one another using rude language and insults. We start to discriminate people and propagate hatred towards selected groups of people.
Mr Ong reminded me to reflect what the Singapore flag means to me. Hope online readers can also take a moment to think about what these things mean to you. The online community is no longer just a faceless community, separate from our daily lives. It is an integral part of us, an integral part of the nation. We cannot create a happy Singapore with so much negativity. It speaks of a nation’s character and identity. Perhaps we can start a movement for this. Help to spread the values of our national flag into the online space. We can do our part to nurture a Singapore online community we can be proud of. One that is vibrant with youthful spirit, based on the 5 values of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. Share this along if you agree.