My fellow Singaporean bloggers
I am proud to be one of you.
In a sentimental mood (and blessed with some free time), I read through some of the blog postings written ahead of the 2006 GE, and compared them to our discussions in the blogosphere today.
By and large, the quality of our discourse has improved significantly. Name-calling has (mostly) given way to robust debates on hard issues. There is an increasing segment which supports a candidate or party on the strength of its ideas and policies, not its rhetoric and personality. Consequently, the online political conversation has become a lot more substantive.
We still know how to have fun, and this wit often reflects a deeper realities a la Animal Farm. Far more than just a song and dance, we use humour to mask hidden messages about the fundamental issues at stake. Or maybe we just enjoy making each other laugh.
In any case, I am convinced that we bloggers today have a bona fide role in national discourse.
Separately, I came across this quote by the late US senator Robert F Kennedy:
“Our gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud to be Americans.”
I would argue that a high GNP would actually help pay for our children’s education and healthcare. But otherwise, I think Senator Kennedy has effectively captured the essence of what Americans’ real priorities were. And they had little to do with numbers.
One of the issues that appears to be shaping our upcoming GE is whether we should have cheaper HDB prices or more national reserves. Another “hot button” issue is the influx of foreigners.
While both issues can be expressed in numbers, the real question that should be addressed is: “What makes life in Singapore worthwhile?” Is it worthwhile to have flats which are worth less in future in order to have more case in hand now (or for retirement)? Is it worthwhile to have more space (and jobs) for Singaporeans if it means slower growth as a whole?