defragment.me

Why I do my best for the elections

I admit I do have a mildly obsessive nature. I don't know if you can put mildly and obsessive in the same sentence. This sort of nature has served me well when I am in any learning process. Whether was it learning Photoshop, building my first PC or trying to build my first website. When I really want to do something, I have to do it, or I can't let it rest.

So I'm not afraid to admit I'm slightly obsessed with the elections in Singapore. Perhaps there's a thin line between obsession and passion. Not to the point that I go to rallies physically (I'm crowd phobic actually) but I monitor my twitter stream and Facebook feed like every 5 minutes. I retweet links, share my own thoughts, selecting quotes to display and basically disseminate as much information I can.

Someone told me I shouldn't be obsessed. Hmm. After feeling suppressed my entire life, I don't think I can oppress myself any further. I feel that this may be the same case for many people. Having to put up with threats and fear all our lives, from every single level you can imagine – the government, the authorities, our teachers, parents, etc – now that we can actually have some self-expression, of course there's tons of noise being generated!

I felt a little guilty, because I am like ignoring all other aspects of my life. I do whatever I can for my work, but other than that, I've stopped watching tv, stopped doing pretty much everything else. I paused for a while and questioned myself if what I was doing was right.

Then I realised, hey, I'm just taking 10 days out of 4 years to do my best as a Singaporean. I don't think that's too much to ask for. Sorry if you've been a neglected friend, or irritated friends and followers on my social media accounts. Please feel free to block me or whatever, but I cannot stop expressing my views freely.

I've been writing the same in several blog posts, I want to be the change I want. So if I cannot stand for elections myself, I will do everything in my capacity to disseminate information. I will speak, loud and clear. I want to preserve my own voice. I want to set an example for our future generations, that they too, can and should have their own voices.

I am proud to be a human being with a lot of heart, so by natural extension, I want to be part of a country with heart as well. I want to have a leader who inspires me. I mean, if you safe and secure types like having those kind of leaders, I respect your choice. But please don't try and tell me that I should be happy being safe and secure. I like living on the edges. I may be considered radical, I do not know, it really depends on which school of thought you belong to. Perhaps Singapore would eventually prove to be economically unviable to have that sort of leadership that possesses empathy with the commonfolk, but I would like to try.

It is like choosing a lifetime partner, a career route. People keep telling me what I should choose. I am genuinely sick of that. I just want to make choices based on my own preferences, can I? I don't care if I am naive or idealistic because this is the way I have been living and this is the way I like myself best. With lots of heart. With ideals. With passion. With a genuine desire to push for change. Not only for myself but for the kids of future generations. They need love, nurturing and ideals, not 16 hour school days with school bags that weigh 5kg. They should walk around with fire in the eyes, not with a glazed look and detachment from everything.

They can choose to fall down themselves, make a few mistakes, but we shouldn't sabotage them.

You know, sometimes I ask myself. Why do I bother? I mean, I'll just work hard, save up a considerable sum, find a country that suits my ideals, and live there for the rest of my life. Why do I bother myself with what happens to the future generations?

I have no concrete answer. All I can say is, that it pains me to see clones of me walking around. Thinking there's no hope to be doing what you love.

Can I live with myself not doing anything for these kids even though I know there's could be some light at the end of the tunnel?

No, I can't. I can't bear the thought of just one more person who was on the same self-destructive and self-loathing pathway that I was taking. Because I've now had the benefit of hindsight and now I know that it is possible to live authentically and do what you love. It is possible to be a little bit more human. It is possible to have crappy O level results, with no tertiary degree and still be happy.

I wished I had someone tell me that 15 years ago.

I saw a rally speech by Mr Chiam See Tong, he said, that our MM Lee had taken a particular interest in his O level results. He only had five credits. Our MM was asking, if this is the person you want to be holding office. The guy with 5 O level credits, or the one with straight As (*ahem* Mah Bow Tan)?

So this is what we tell our kids. Hey, judge people on the number of As okay?

Mr Chiam said, not in his exact words as I can't remember – 'if your mother scold you for your O level results, you can quote me as an example. I had 5 credits but now I am a lawyer. When there is life, there is hope. When there is hope, there is change.'

These are the kind of words our leaders should be telling us. But maybe they can't. Else we'll stop being GDP machines.

Why can't we look at the bigger picture? I can't help but feel, they don't want to look at that picture. They know about the poor but they only want to do the minimum effort. They're not doing a good job of trying to convince us that they make all these decisions because they truly care about the people instead of lining their own pockets.

I saw another quote from SM Goh (youtube video), referring to JBJ, saying that JBJ had fought for welfare, and 'we were dead against it'. (In this context he must have meant social payouts - perhaps we can't have payouts but I definitely believe we can do more for the poor since we are so f*cking rich.)

Now I see. Rich people live happily ever after and it is okay to leave the poor behind.

I as an individual, rather not have the glamour of YOG and rather spend that 400 million trying to help our poor. Where are our priorities?

Yeah okay, if Singapore wants to be an efficient country with strong GDP, casinos and children with glazed eyes.....and if like some of my friends seem very uncomfortable that the stability of our country is now being threatened by democracy, that you tell them about the poor, the injustice of the ISA, but it doesn't matter to them as long as their pockets are full....

Then maybe it is really just me. I can't be part of this place. If one day, I've tried my best and the country takes a turn for the worse in terms of human spirit, I'll not hesitate to pack up and leave. At least I have given my all.

p.s. dedicating this to the people who has been telling me I should be grateful that Singapore is safe, secure and stable. Please be grateful all you want, I have spent my life hating myself because I was trying to be safe, secure and stable. I want to have more heart, and if that comes at the price of my safety, stability and security, I'll gladly exchange my life for it. I, just want to be myself and express my own preferences.

Why voting for the opposition means a lot to me

I've been trying to express my views on twitter but I guess that micro-format doesn't put my words in context and it makes me seem like I'm so insecure, xenophobic person.

If you know me personally as a friend, u'll know this to be untrue. I cannot be proud of much but I am definitely one of those who will actually speak up for our foreign workers and talent. I certainly don't like picking on people based on stereotypes and the country they come from. To me, it is very simple, don't do to people what you don't wish to be done to you. I don't like being stereotyped, why should I do the same?

Anyway, I will clarify my position once and for all, and hopefully, those people who care enough will read.

1. I don't have issues with foreigners.

We are all immigrants. How many of us can claim to have aboriginal ancestors? Perhaps I do think the population number needs to be managed, but that's because Singapore is feeling like it is about to burst its seams any moment.

2. The education of our youth

The reason why we depend a lot (I mean, a lot) on foreign talent, especially in the tech sector, is because there's not many local talents around. If this is true, then why are we not examining why? I'm constantly being asked to refer good independent designers. Oh come on. Why do talented designers go 'freelance' or independent here when the standards of living are so high, and in all seriousness, most clients here do not want to pay for quality? They ask for free pitches and mockups, GeBiz is setting the best example for this. Ask any design agency. How would an independent designer survive here?

In all honesty, if not because I have an international client base, as well as an increasing number of tech startups who are willing to pay for quality (though still rare), I myself wouldn't have survived. In fact, I am having issues trying to afford my rent and pursue my goals at the same time.

I can probably write another 10,000 word essay on education, but I don't want to dilute the points I am trying to make here. However, it is a fact that we're encouraged to have a herd mentality from young. We're taught to pride academic success. We're conditioned into thinking that having money and security is more important than anything else. So, can anybody tell me why we have a lack of talent here? It all stems down from the roots, isn't it?

3. The Internal Security Act

Along with many other people, I was not aware of how unjust this was until very recently. I am appalled. I am also upset that we were deprived this part of Singapore's history. Why? Google "Operation Spectrum".

‎"You dun care because you dun have friends who were imprisoned without trial for doing social work and helping the poor,” I replied. “You dun have friends who cannot come home to Singapore, you dun have friends who were made bankrupt and had their lives destroyed by the PAP government.” (source)

4. Public Housing

Okay, being pragmatic. I don't expect Singapore's property prices to be affordable because we really don't have much land. That's fine. I can accept that because I am unmarried, I have to work harder in order to either purchase my own resale HDB flat when I am 35, or expensive private property. But I cannot accept Public Housing prices being pegged to market prices because public housing are precisely for people who cannot afford property otherwise. I can't help but think, what are they trying to achieve here? Make people work very hard so that they cannot do anything else?

5. Ministers' Salaries

I don't feel comfortable when I found out *all* our ministers earn at least 1.57m, more than Barack Obama, who has to take shit on a per-minute basis. But I can perhaps learn to accept that if this is what it takes to have a non-corrupt government. What I cannot accept, is there are tons of under-performing ministers drawing that sort of salaries! They want to compare our ministers to CEOs, sure. CEOs definitely have to justify their performances to the board. Who do our ministers justify themselves to? They all belong to one party and I cannot help but feel like they're all shielding each other. Even the ones who don't perform. Can you imagine that happening in a proper board? This may as well be a family-run business!

6. GRCs

Redrawing boundaries to dilute the opposition is just not cool. Why can't we just have a fairfight? If the PAP are truly capable, why do they have to resort to such tactics?

7. State of animal welfare

If you are into animal welfare in Singapore, you'll know there isn't much effort from the government. Then again, they're deemed to be lacking in human welfare, so I guess we can't even talk about animals. I struggle to call us a progressed society.

8. Personal reasons

I would say that growing up here made me depressed and suicidal. And that it is very painful to be not part of the mainstream. It is not funny at all when you're insulted, looked down upon on a frequent basis because of academic non-success. My own mother thought of me as a disappointment. I was not accepted for the child I was. I survived it all, but I wonder, does it have to be this way for other kids like me? And it is not even about being gay. It is not buying into the whole 'Straight As' concept. Why can't our individuality be celebrated? We suppress our kids' individualities, then go proclaim a foreigner's individuality as 'talent'.

This is personal and biased, I am not afraid to say. Perhaps some other kid less emotionally sensitive wouldn't be suicidal, I wouldn't know. But I do know of other young people who have become either detached, or they just try to numb themselves with substance abuse. These are not delinquents, but truly bright minds, albeit emotionally sensitive.

I would also like to add, if not for the horribly inflated housing prices, I would be travelling around the world right now, exposing myself to different cultures and learning as I go along. I would also have more time for the non-profit work I am doing. I just find it difficult to stomach that people with a heart are forced to be concerned over survival when they can be spending their time over more meaningful issues.

I earn a comfortable income, but I am not comfortable at all. I don't even drink and party. 60% of my income (if I work my ass off) goes to rent. If that is the case for me, I shudder to think of the genuinely poor. Three years ago, a small HDB flat would have cost 1.2k to rent. Now it is about 2k and upwards, depending on location. This only intensified during the past two years. Why?

The rich are indeed very comfortable here. The poor are getting poorer. We're performing strongly economically, but the people are suffering.

At what expense, I would like to ask. All for our GDP.

I am not saying that the Opposition will do better. But let's give them a chance before threatening the voters that the value of their flats will become worthless. Can't PAP talk in concrete terms, exactly how they will 'take care of us'? Why do they have to make it sound like we're voting for the mafia? If the Opposition is shit, let time tell. But based on my personal observation in Parliament, I'll take Sylvia Lim, Chiam See Tong, Low Thia Kiang, over 90% of PAP MPs anytime. Most of them don't even bother to debate on national issues. Those who do, get silenced into submission.

As a human being with integrity, it is difficult to support a party that jailed people without trials and sued people into bankruptcy.

Can we have a government who truly cares about the people? That is all I ask for. And not have our leaders think of us like animals. I'll leave you with this quote to chew on:

“I have always thought that humanity was animal-like,” he says. “The Confucian theory was man could be improved, but I’m not sure he can be. He can be trained, he can be disciplined.” - MM Lee (source)

The power of my choice

I believe that one can create his or her own reality. I even wrote a post on this a couple of years ago.

Somehow, I forgot. I forgot while dealing with the uncertainty and insecurity of self-employment, the stress of moving residences repeatedly, the perceived failure of my decision making.

I was upset with myself for causing myself to be caught in stressful situations. Because I've always made leaps of faith, and in the end they all seem to come back to haunt me. I was angry that I kept over-working myself due to my own insecurity. I was tired, very tired of fighting. All I wanted was some stability.

Things got so bad until there was this day when I wondered if I could de-exist permanently. Like if re-incarnation was possible, I would like to opt out, please. I didn't want to be in spirit form either. I just wanted to be nothing. All my spiritual beliefs were being threatened. I refused to buy into the whole 'you live to learn' thing.

I felt like I was being coerced into this cycle whereby I have no choice but to live life after life. I tried to see the point of it all. If living was to learn, and learning was to evolve, what if I did not want to be part of this evolution?

I couldn't see the point then and to be honest, I still don't see the point now (or perhaps non-linear time is too complex for me to understand). But something magical happened. It always does. I sink to the bottom and there's always light waiting for me there.

One fine day, a series of synchronistic events made me remember. A movie, a book, a few words. I remembered. I chose to be here. I chose this life. I probably chose all the challenges that life was throwing me. I loved the challenges. I've always attributed my growth to all my previous challenges. I needed to learn the power of limitations. I knew, if everything went smooth-sailing, I would be living a very comfortable life. There *is* a lazy streak in me. I like luxury and sometimes I just want to do nothing. Chill. But that is not what I truly want. I want a life that I can be proud of. If I was born with a body that has boundless energy, I would be doing everything under the sun without focus. There are people who know how to make good use of their innate gifts without experiencing limitations. Not me.

There and then, I asked myself. If right at this moment, I could choose to stop 'suffering' and exchange my current life for a life that is full of peace, stability and comfort, how would I make that choice?

I realised that I would still choose this life. No matter how tiring, how difficult things can get, how broken it has made me feel sometimes. I still want my life.

At that very split-second, it all returned to me. The power of my choice.

The knowledge that I have the power to make choices that will influence my own destiny. Everything that happens today is a sum of my own decisions yesterday. Now, is a consequence of all that happened before. The future, is a consequence of all that happens now. My life circumstances in this life, was an agreement I willingly entered into, before incarnation. Nobody can make decisions for me, nobody can make me make decisions I do not want. They can influence, they can guilt-trip or manipulate, but the decision is mine alone. I cannot point fingers at anybody.

There is a spiritual angle to all of this (but of course). If you realise that you are the one who has chosen the pain, hurt and difficult lessons prior to living this life, you would have the same epiphany as me.

We all have the power to create. That not everything can be understood on a physical, superficial level. That pain and suffering need not be perceived as negative. Just because it makes us feel bad doesn't mean that it is not good.

Anyway, these concepts are not something that can be explored in a blog entry. (I would recommend this book and books from Michael Newton or Brian Weiss, and the entire "Conversations with God" series. )

-

What a difference a split-second can make. I have been going on with my life with a bounce ever since I remembered. I say remembered because I have always known, but I forgot about it among all that pragmatic worries I had.

Previously when I had fallen sick, I would go into a very negative state of mind because being sick didn't allow me to do what I want, in fact, being sick places me in considerable stress because being self-employed, everyday I am sick equates to no income. Over the Chinese New Year, I was down with flu for two weeks. I was feeling very bad physically, with all that nausea, sinus-pressure, chills. But this time, even all of that didn't make me feel negative. I was constantly in a positive state of mind because I knew everything will happen in its own time and space. Nothing was impossible as long as I believe that I have the power to influence my own destiny.

I made a decision in my mind and my heart, that I would from now on, try to make decisions out of courage and not out of fear. No matter how crazy, how much risk or potential stress.

I started making these small little decisions, then some bigger ones, a couple of people-would-think-I-am-crazy ones.

And you know what. Life has been awesome since then. And I truly mean it. I know, it would continue to be awesome as long as I remember I hold the power to my choices. I have been experiencing the effects of all decisions within a short span of weeks. Some just took days. I hope to be writing soon in detail about how drastically things have progressed.

I don't know about everyone else. But I think I have finally accepted that the route to security is not one for me. I have to live my life on the edge, because that is what I truly want – a life that I would be proud of on my deathbed.

Proud to be AWARE

Earlier today, I clapped until my fingers were bruised.

I have gone to cast my vote at the AWARE EGM straight after a night of work (I keep nocturnal hours), kept myself mentally alert alternating between coffee and sweets, ended up with my limbs trembling due to caffeine and lack of sleep, stayed till the very end even though I was on the verge of collapse.

But it was all worth it.

For today, I personally witnessed with my own eyes, felt with my own heart, processed with my own mind, the courage and pride of women fighting for their own rights and justice.

It was an experience that would not be justified with the mere description of words. I had honestly not expected this.

The diversity

For it was not only the outspoken feminists who turned up. It was an incredible mix of men and women, of all races, religions and ages.

There was the old who could barely walk but still made the effort to queue for hours to register. There were the male expats who took time out to volunteer for a cause they believed in but was not of much direct relation to them. There was this Caucasian woman, among many other Caucasian women who turned up to vote (presumably PR or PR-turned-citizens), who was giving away flowers out of a trolley to people in the queue, probably paid out of her own pocket. There were the educators who put their jobs on the line by speaking on the floor. There were housewives, mothers, husbands, staunch Christians, a Muslim father, who spoke for their support of a comprehensive sex education program for their children.

The ironic moment came when Josie Lau said that she was not against sex education, she simply wanted the kids to make 'informed' choices. I guess she needs to re-learn her definitions, because hers seem to point to the lack of information as being 'informed'.

There were plenty of people who were queuing up for their chance to speak, and when their turn came, they spoke with such conviction and passion that my hair stood and my heart moved. There was the girl who on the verge of tears, telling the new exco that it is already so difficult to grow up in Singapore, and how could they, how could they deny their right to love, their right to choose?

I could feel tears filling up my eyes upon hearing that. For I only know too well, how difficult it was.

And the speakers on the floor spoke for us. They questioned the new guard on their lack of sensitivity, lack of thought, lack of organization. Their mis-use of public funds (estimated to be 90k). Their lack of respect for the old guard. Their inability to answer questions. Their lack of experience in running a NGO. The list goes on and on.

The crumbling of the new exco

Personally, I am appalled. I am appalled as mentioned in my earlier posts on this subject, how can such educated women with high-flying careers, apart from having a very narrow mind, not think about the consequences of their actions prior to the act?

They have splurged our money, underestimated our intelligence, insulted many of us personally, shifting the responsibility of answering sensitive questions to their legal counsel (who was fair and did not help them much), and the icing on the cake was:

The majority of the audience was clearly not in support of them, they have lost all credibility and respect, and when the vote of no-confidence was passed, they actually have the audacity to say that the vote did not stand legally.

They have lost the popular vote and they want to exploit a legal loophole to hang on. I was starting to wonder if they have lost their sanity in the proceedings. Or modesty.

To top it all off (yes still more icing incredulously), they were implored by the old guard to step down graciously which they refused, accepted the opportunity given by the old guard to hold a meeting for 5 minutes to give proper consideration to their resignation, disappeared for half an hour with no notification of whereabouts, with their legal counsel not being able to contact them.

The motion of their removal was passed after ample time was given to them. Which thereafter, they appeared and insisted on giving a highly formulaic statement on stepping down graciously and wishing the best for AWARE.

Sorry, I personally feel that they have lost the right to step down graciously after repeatedly refusing even after the vote of no-confidence was passed, trying to pull off a stunt to say the vote was not legal-binding, and then disappearing for an indefinite amount of time. They did not have the decency to let us know that they will be extending their 5 minute meeting to 30 minutes.

Throughout the whole drama, the old guard was gracious enough to give them chance after chance to step down, and they even got us to give a round of applause to the new guard if they were ever going to re-appear.

The press has been kind to them (they were barred from the EGM by the new guard). I have just gone over the latest news reports, they did not report the new guard's unbelievable display of denial – the official statement seemed to be that they chose to be gracious and stepped down.

Reflecting

I am sure that some – even if they are the minority – of the new guard's support will be reflecting upon today's events. I do not think many of them are actually aware of the full situation, the deceit by their leadership, and the full scale of the hurt caused by them.

For me, I am actually grateful, in spite that I was feeling extremely insulted, because if not for the whole drama staged by the new guard, I would not be able to experience such a wonderful display of unity and strength. The array of individual talent and wit by the floor speakers was incredible, it was definitely a pleasant awakening for me. My previous mindset that we do not have enough brilliant individuals with their own minds was wrong.

And they were in full splendor today.

It was electrifying, the energy from the hall emitted by people from different walks of life who had united for a common cause. If you were there to see the display of passion of the people's faces for what they believe in, the eruption of pure joy when the vote was announced, you would not want to miss it, I assure you, for almost anything else in the world.

I am proud, of myself who stood up to be heard despite my personal dislike for being around people in general (too sensitive to people's energies), despite my fatigue at work, despite feeling as if I am about to break apart anytime, despite my lack of guts to speak on the floor or anywhere else actually, I was there.

I am equally proud, of my partner who stood up for the cause we both believed in, despite her being cynical of mankind in general, despite her being repeatedly let down by situations and people she once gave her trust to, despite having personally faced an uphill battle for the causes she supports, she was there.

And I am very proud, of all of you who made it, despite all that was in your way.

For once, I am proud to be a woman and a Singaporean.

p.s. I ponder about the people wondering why are we making such a big fuss about this when they are sitting in comfort because of the rights AWARE has fought for them in the past 25 years. Equal rights are not to be taken for granted, they have to be fought for and protected.