The similarities Singapore and Hong Kong share are uncanny. We’re both small countries. We both depend on finance and trade to grow the country. We both shared a colonial master.
The differences on the other hand, are just as uncanny. They have a massive hinterland called China that they don’t want. We had a Malaysia that didn’t want us. They want to survive without China, we thought we’d be dead without Malaysia.
Thus, their youths take to the streets to deny a controversial Bill from being read. That Bill is dead now, so it isn’t quite clear what they’re fighting for anymore. If it is universal suffrage, well, they were offered that by Beijing once but this was rejected.
Yes, some Singaporeans don’t understand the need of a protest: what does it achieve? Is it even efficient? What is the loss you must give up for the gains? Is it worth it?
These comments look like an unsympathetic gloat at the situation.And while that might be some truth in how Singaporeans cannot understand what Hong Kongers are going through, it would also be unfair to say we don’t understand it at all.
Some revolution enthusiasts say that Singaporeans are babies. Having lived sheltered all their lives, that they can never fathom what lofty ambitions the protestors in Hong Kong are trying to accomplish. In short: Singaporeans don’t protest because they don’t know how to stand up for themselves. It’s a fight guys, you won’t understand!
That criticism is wrong.
Singapore has never seen a fight? Really? From the communist riots of the 50s and 60s to the racial riots of the 60s, lives were lost, the social fabric torn and destroyed. Like other developing countries, Singapore had its fair share of struggle for freedom and democracy. We have seen the worst clashes between major races, we know what it is like to have streets lined with protestors or hospitals filled with injured countrymen.
We have learnt that the country cannot be held at gunpoint by any group, other than the vast majority of Singaporeans. That’s why we are designed in this manner.
In the course of nation building, Singapore faced many external threats from our neighbours. Some still exist till this day. In ensuring that its people remain united while undergoing internal turmoil, Singapore had paid a hefty price.
The peace and stability that Singapore has and cherish is built upon the blood, sweat and tears of the forefathers who came before. Having seen the pain of their own countrymen, Singaporeans are fully aware that this social fabric which binds us all is delicate and must be guarded fiercely.
It is ironic, that after taking generations to recover, the guarding of peace in the country can still be referred to as being spineless.
In Hong Kong today, it is observable that the economy is taking a hit. This will trickle down to private citizens. The rich won’t be affected, it would be the poor, ill and disadvantaged. We see people barred from leaving Hong Kong (which is in itself a breach of universal human rights by the way). Innocent bystanders are unable to commute, or make a living how long will they have to hold out?
Yes, Singaporeans get that it’s a revolution (of sorts). But to say that we don’t understand it because we won’t carry it out on our own soil…is taking it a bit too far.
The bottom line is this the lack of reaction from Singaporeans is not from the lack of understanding what true democracy or freedom is about.In fact, it comes from a place of clear, logical reasoning and understanding what politics is about: compromise.
Our own history has taught us what it is like to deal with prejudice, pain, the loss of lives, livelihood. It’s happened in the past, we’re not going to let it happen again. Sitting on the streets setting fire and blocking public transport is not going to work for us because we know better.