Happy birthday, Singapore – with gratitude but not love.

Growing up in my home country feeling like a misfit, it is indeed difficult to express any sort of patriotic love. For never once I have truly felt like a child of this country, I have never felt loved nor accepted.

I had felt no sense of belonging and instead trapped, bound by the location of my birth. I was angry with the lack of choices available for my education, the restriction of speech that I should have, the lack of tolerance for diversity in a country that boasts of being multi-racial.

Yet as I grow older and as my horizons widened (still rather narrow, unfortunately but am trying to correct that), I am increasingly grateful for what this country has given – security, stability and freedom. Yes, freedom, though not in the idealistic sense, but the freedom of choices still exists and we do not realise how much freedom we have, until we look beyond and out of what we’ve taken for granted all this while.

I am grateful that I feel safe roaming the streets of Singapore, I am grateful for our transportation system, I am grateful that that I can have clean water to brush my teeth with.

However, it makes me extremely grateful, that having the privilege of being born a Singapore citizen, I do not have to undergo female circumcision, systems with racial quotas (apart from buying a hdb flat), or risk getting stoned to my death if I was ever unlucky enough to be a victim of a sexual assault.

I am sorry to be such a wet blanket in a celebratory mood but I wish to remind myself and all of us, the sort of freedom we have, and to a certain extent, the social responsibility we have as the younger generation to protect the harmony and rights most of my peers are born with but these were not given to us without a fight by our forefathers.

I am also sorry, that I love the foreigners that are now running riot in this country and are supposedly taking our jobs away. We’re proud of being a multi-racial country for a reason, that reason being we had a diverse range of ancestors. Before taking a swipe at that foreign person, perhaps we may want to recall if our grandfathers were ‘truly Singaporean’ in the first place.

On this day I hope and pray that the younger generations will grow up to not only tolerate diversity but to embrace it. I hope in an idealistic manner that misfits like me will come to be accepted one day, that there will come a time that we will enjoy greater freedom of speech and less media censorship.

Perhaps I will come to fall in love with this country one day, perhaps I won’t. Maybe I’ll find a better environment for myself, just like many of the others coming to Singapore in search for a better home. I will still remain grateful. For despite all the difficulties I’ve faced being a Singaporean, it is undeniable that I still have the basic rights as an individual to dictate my fate.

Happy birthday, Singapore. I wish to love you from the bottom of my heart but I still find it difficult to. I am very grateful anyway, thanks for what you’ve given me all these years.