The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

Happy National Day Singapore!

on August 9, 2014

In the world according to #1 and 2, it can only be my Birthday after Singapore’s Birthday. So…Happy 49th Birthday Singapore!

It’s Singapore National Day today and I have been wishing people Happy National Day! Though it feels slightly weird too, for in the UK I could be perceived as having BNP aspirations, which I don’t.

What is this Public Holiday celebrating? Singapore’s Independence from Malaysia in 1965. (Scotland, this could be you next year.) I grew up with my family talking about how intelligent someone called Lee Kuan Yew was. I naturally assumed he was some wealthy business type person from Hong Kong as no one seemed to explain who he was and had they said he was from Singapore, I don’t think it would have meant anything anyways.

So the penny only dropped a few years ago that the highly revered former Minister Mentor of Singapore was the exact same person! He lives around the corner from us actually, in a fairly modest house with 24 hour security and only exits his home with a full Police escort. He’s my best Singapore Celebrity Spot with only the really annoying man on Breakfast TV to go up against. I told my Dad, Mr Li that I’d seen him before but I don’t think he’s as into playing Celebrity Spot as I am.

Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s first ever Prime Minister with his son, Lee Hsien Loong holding the post right now. Hence the Minister Mentor position. He’s written several books, and has had several books written about him, on how he has contributed to making Singapore what it is now.

In less than 50 years, Singapore is in the Top Ten countries with the highest number of millionaries out of a population of just over 5.3 million people. There’s not a day goes by when we don’t see at least one Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati go by, #1 is so used to seeing them that he’s at risk of thinking it’s quite normal. The wealth you can see is impressive but also it only goes to highlight the huge gap between those who have not.

Modern Singapore has made huge steps forward even if at first independence wasn’t what they really wanted. It’s a beautiful city state that works well and I have felt very at home here but Singapore, don’t be in a rush to be so brand new and shiny that you regret losing all the character of the Singapore you were. The beautiful shophouses, the traditional Peranakan influences perhaps even to some extent your unique Singlish lah.

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National Day celebrates all Singaporeans together whether of Chinese, Malay or Indian heritage. And so they should be proud of themselves. There’s nothing wrong with being patriotic and nothing irks me more than people who have the honour of representing their country on a public platform, like overpaid footballers, who refuse to sing the British National Anthem.

Some may think it’s a bit contrived to have an annual three hour parade, presentation and fireworks to say how great the nation is. But I like how it is also about recognising all the Public Services for the work they do with the respect they deserve. From the Police, Fire, Ambulance to the Navy, Army and Air Force Services. It would be a shame to let this fall by the wayside.

Some may think that the resources spent on rehearsals for today that began way back in June and performed every Saturday, could be best spent on other things that would go to benefit those who have not. Though we have certainly enjoyed looking out for the chinooks flying the Singapore flag and the fabulous fireworks display.

But there is no denying that the build up to National Day every year certainly does bring this nation together. The streets are festooned with flags and cars have flags waving out the tops and there are a mass of people wearing red and white, including ourselves.

Initially when we first moved here, I wasn’t that bothered about National Day but ever since #1 started school when he turned three, it has become important for us to acknowledge today too. For Singapore is home for #1, 2 and 3. Even if Husband and I know that it’s temporary. It is home for now and most importantly it is the only home that #1, 2 and 3 have ever known. We chose to live here where they were born and it is our duty to make them proud and know something of this country too.

If you were to ask #1 and 2 where are they from, they will answer you Singapore and England. We don’t refer to England as ‘home’ because this is their home and home is where we all live together . Quite soon England will be their new home, but for now, I want them to fully live their lives in Singapore.

This year’s theme for National Day is Our People, Our Home and Singapore is a diverse nation. The School concert celebrating National Day was on Thursday and the children practised traditional folk and patriotic songs in Malay, Mandarin and English which they all performed with pride. It was then followed by a celebration with traditional Singaporean food and having two children in different classes meant bringing in two cakes, at the request of #1, we made a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and marshmallows to represent the Singapore flag and a pandan chiffon cake.

And so back to my earlier point of it can only be my Birthday after Singapore’s. When asked a few weeks ago, whose Birthday is it next, the unanimous answer was ‘Singapore’s!’. I must admit it wasn’t quite the answer I was expecting but then I can’t argue when up against a whole country I guess.

Now that it is Singapore’s Birthday today, I’ll use the eloquent but censored words of my friend Scrivvers, ‘Come on Forty!’

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