Friday, July 08, 2011

"If you care too much about Singapore, first it'll break your spirit, and finally it will break your heart." --- Alfian Sa'at


It is awfully uncharitable of me to be quoting this line now, this year of all years. After all, it has been an awfully exciting year so far, filled with awfully inspirational/cheesy words and phrases. Watershed, landmark elections, groundswell, landmark, hope, change, upheaval, the voice of the people... well, you get the idea.

The year isn't even over. Plenty of things could happen in the next five months.

I suppose I wanted to write this in an attempt to figure out my waning interest in Singapore-related matters. After all, it wasn't so long ago that I was utterly intoxicated by the political happenings on this tiny island. Fun times.

However, even at the peak of my excitement, I knew there was something missing from the picture. I didn't know what was wrong exactly, but I mentally prepared myself for a 'downer' that I somehow knew would come.

Last night, a friend and I went to look at the developments at Punggol jetty. It hasn't been officially opened yet -- which minister will they get to come cut the ribbon? -- and everything was shiny and new. There was a huge sign: 'Punggol Promenade'. I suppose in time to come, no one would use the phrase 'Punggol Point' or even 'Punggol Jetty'. The word 'promenade' will be known as a proper noun to most Singaporeans, just like 'Esplanade'.

There was an old man there throwing pieces of raw meat onto the field next to the main road. It looked rather excessive -- lots of meat, and only one lone dog chowing down. There used to be a lot more wild dogs in the area. Never before did I have to actively look out for them, like I did last night. The man said it was only a matter of time before they would come shoot the rest of the dogs. By the end of the night, my dog count stood at a grand total of two.

I kept thinking about that quote by Alfian, which I first came across on Tym's blog many years ago. I've always liked it, but I don't think I fully felt it before -- my spirit was not yet broken, and my heart was intact. Occasionally angsty, but intact.

As I walked along our latest "waterfront development", it occurred to me that somewhere along the way during the past five or six years, my spirit did indeed become broken, and I think I am now no longer capable of loving this country. I wondered if it was because my heart had become broken to such a degree that while the recent elections did manage to revive it for a short moment (we have a pulse!), it soon flat-lined all over again.

The thing is, I don't have any suggestions for how they could have done a better job at the Punggol Promenade. I would have just not done it at all -- which is really quite unfair, since it isn't my private beach, and who am I to stop others from having lovely waterfront-filled weekends? I will just have to take my retro-aggression elsewhere.

I told my friend I had deliberately not gone to see the railway station when they closed it down. I didn't even want to go on those walks by the tracks which some nice people organised. I didn't want to have anything to do with what I felt was another elaborate, long-drawn funeral for yet another place that would soon be dead.

As such, I don't think I will go to Bukit Brown either.

I can't recall if there were other places that closed down earlier in this year, and I don't know what else will disappear by the end of the year. There are five more months -- plenty of things could happen.

Of course, the right thing to do would be to do something. I know there are folks working to conserve/preserve these places. Bukit Brown still stands a chance, but I'm not going to hold my breath. But hey -- shouldn't you Take action! Do something! Join in the efforts!

The truth is, I don't think I could muster enough interest to be bothered. Maybe it is because I (am too lazy) don't care enough -- and I don't care enough, because I can't care about something I don't love anymore.

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