Nearly 40 years ago I trudged across your vast lands – traversing from your farmers’ luscious fields to moss-covered man-made walls that stretch from as far as the eyes could see, from enormous public squares to well-preserved musty ancient buildings. I remember your masses on bicycles cycling in the cold; their labored breaths seemed like dragon’s smoke intermingling with the dust.
I felt with a heavy heart the pain and trauma that have befallen upon your people. You were then right in the middle of a tumultuous ten-year period of internal turmoil.
I suffered humiliation, ridicule and extreme physical discomfort to bring you good news.
Above all, I cried for you and with you as you reset and rebuild.
Today you have risen far from and high above the ashes.
At all costs, you are determined to be the magnificent Phoenix the world cannot help but notice.
You stride across continents with your heads held high.
Your fingers are in every pie.
Your people buy apartment blocks to launder their ill-gotten fortunes, they buy ten-thousand-dollar Lafites to show off and they make Rolls-Royce a household name.
Food is wasted, resources squandered, “get rich at all costs” is your mantra – to hell with food standards, so what if tainted milk powder kill innocent babies – and cheating, lying as well as corruption are the hallmarks of your world.
Your young women, crafty beyond their years, seduce our men and break up our families.
They stand in line outside Louis Vuitton stores, afraid they aren’t allow to buy more, more and more.
Your men swagger with arrogance and pride while clearing their phlegm and spitting in the wind.
There’s nothing they won’t buy – as long as an object of desire is the most expensive, they want it.
From Daytonas to Franck Mullers they want them all.
Bald men are buying expensive electric shavers, people who know nothing about cigars are stocking up on Behikes just because they are costly and those who know nothing about pipe smoking are buying up the most expensive, highly priced handcrafted Dunhill dead root three-stars and the handiworks of some of the best European carvers, just because they can. Not because they appreciate the work of these master carvers. But because they have money.
Your people take up domicile in my country, buy up Sentosa Cove, enjoy our safe and secure environment as well as other benefits, yet your people ridicule and belittle us.
Your people residing here glare and stare at us “natives” as if we are the ones who are the strangers in our own country.
Despite their peasant ways your people’s ability to throw money around continues to evoke the awe of lesser mortals.
Today my heart bleeds for you.
My heart bleeds because no tears will ever be enough to drown my sorrows at seeing what you have become.
How could you change so much?
I have loved you once, but I can hardly recognize you now.
In the wink of an eye, you’ve become a different monster.
You’ve become a dragon everyone hates.
Over 60 years of living under an ideology that has no place for spiritual values, an ideology that forced you to claw your way out of the rot that engulfed you just to survive, you have become mean-spirited, immoral, unethical and self-serving.
Your philosophy is “the end justifies the means.”
And to think that I’ve cried for you nearly 40 years ago.
In my heart of hearts, I feel betrayed and I feel so stupid.
An ineffectual older person now, no longer in the prime of my life, I am powerless and frail, and I feel defeated. My only comfort is the thought that what goes up must eventually come down.
What rises will one day decline.
One day you’re the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster.
History has never proven that wrong.
Morally corrupted as they were, even Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t last forever.
But in spite of my grief and frustration, I still harbor a tinge of hope for you and your people.
My hope is that by the time the Almighty is done with you, your people won’t be too broken to learn some essential truths.
Indeed, my hope is that that your people will eventually understand the meaning of humility.
One day, may your people live out the true meaning of what it is to be human and to be civilized again.
Then my tears would not have been in vain.