National Day Rally 2009

TODAY on Tuesday ran an excerpt of the online post of Hong Jing Yi, a 21-year-old Brown University undergraduate:

Nice visuals, but …
I’m 21 and, frankly, it felt like a social studies lesson

Did you like this year’s Rally? I didn’t, really.

There weren’t many new issues addressed, other than the bit about hospitals, which is non-controversial good news in general. The segments about race and religion and Singapore’s past and present resembled very long social studies lessons with interactive media.

Of course we are grateful for what has been done for us, but haven’t we been reminded enough times that Singapore, once dirty and smelly, is now clean and beautiful? Don’t we already know, at least theoretically, that we should be understanding and tolerant of other races/religions?

On race and religion: What provoked this 30-minute-long lecture? Has something happened, other than the AWARE saga? Is there something we should know?

I thought the fact that the PM spent so much time on photos showing us how far we have progressed is rather telling of how poorly we are doing. While very interesting, especially for us younger ones who’ve never experienced floods or seen a non-ceramic toilet, I can’t help but wonder why he spent so much time on this topic.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful to our forefathers, who have done so much to give us the great life we enjoy today. But why choose to talk about this at the Rally, instead of our policies about foreign talent or birthrates?

Must we keep looking back to admire how far we have come in 50 years, so that we can reassure ourselves that we’ll be able to overcome what we’re facing this year?

I guess if the Rally was meant to motivate and inspire – to “rally” people into believing that there is a bright and better future ahead of us – those highly nostalgic pictures would certainly have served their purpose …

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