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A Question; Both Simple and Complex August 9, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

One of my friend’s dropped me a bombshell today.

“Do you love your country?”

A simple enough question I suppose; only five words. Unfortunately, Ned could not provide an answer.

This theme of love for country, or patriotism has often been in the spotlight. PM Goh Chok Tong (as he was then) came up with the infamous words “quitter” and “stayer” during one of his National Day Ralliess. During that time the Straits times was literally flooded with stories regarding these two innocuos looking words. Quitters were (and still are) generally seen in an unfavourable light, being seen as ingrates who had no love for a country which was said to have nurtured them. In the not so distant past Singaporeans who migrated or who had intentions of so doing were mildly rebuked by MM Lee, who reminded them that they had partaken of Singapore’s education system which allowed them to leave in the first place.

But what is this patriotism per se? What are the characteristics of a patriot? What are the actions consistent of to that of a patriot? What does it actually mean to “love your country” for that matter?

Acts of love to country are common place in history. Such acts range from Su Shi sacrificing his career to speak up against Wang Anshi Reforms to Wen Tian Xiang, Yue Fei and Yuan Chong Huan (to name a few) giving up their lives for their country. In fact I am particularly impressed with Yuan Chong Huan and Yue Fei who, notwithstanding that they did their all, were wrongly sentenced executed due to the jealousy of their respective leaders. Yet they served their country nevertheless. Another not dissimilar example would be Niccolo Machiavelli, who was loyal to his native Italian city of Florence to the bitter end.

In view of the above, what then defines the Singapore patriot? Can we say that people like Francis Seow, Said Zahari, Lim Hock Siew, Chee Soon Juan, Tang Liang Hong, Joshua Benjamin Jeyeratnam; to name a few, are patriotic? And if they are not deemed to be patriots than is it because they did/do not fight under the lightning bolt and are in opposition to it? What of the critics? Are we unpatriotic because we do not agree with some aspect of the ruling party? What of the bloggers and film makers?

Perhaps all this questions about country and love may be rendered moot in view of globalisation. Perhaps. But till then this issue of love of country will continue to stay. And yet I cannot answer the question posted in the beginning for I do not know what to make of Singapore, what to make of her people, among other things. I do not deny that Singapore has her good points. But at present I am still unable to answer the question. Perhaps, there needs be some kind of disaster for the answer to be revealed. Perhaps. But for all our sakes, I sincerely hope such a situation never comes to pass.



1. Molly - August 13, 2007

Do you have a country to love?

2. Ned Stark - August 13, 2007

Interesting question molly. Indeed. I do not know the answer. However i am preparing an addition to such a post.

3. Bored - August 14, 2007

Ned, if you have a personal crisis, don’t be shy to acknowledge it. Please do seek some medical help and when you are well, then start writing your thoughts.

4. neutral bystander - August 16, 2007

or the question could be:

does my country love me?

5. Possibilititis. - August 16, 2007

Didn’t you get the answer on the eve of “National” Day?
Singapore is just a City of Possibilities. The message is so loud and clear.
Even huge new bill boards usually meant for election days have been put
up everywhere to announce to everyone that
Singapore is just a “City of Possibilities”.

So, what country are they talking about?

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