The Dummy Country’s Guide to Becoming a Nation

Kuan Yew keeps appearing in the media, always sharing with us his clichéd wisdom in his inimitable style of attaching an appearance of weight to the most vacuous words with his ability to disguise feathers as boulders. When he says that the PAP will be voted out if it deteriorates, he means nothing. Though it does beg the question of whether something that is not worth a cent could depreciate in value. Such a statement is as good as Wong Kan Seng saying that Mas Selamat had either fled Singapore or was still in Singapore except it must have sounded so inspiring that local papers deem it necessary to make front page headlines of the non-existent issue. Kuan Yew wants us to think that if the PAP stays in power, it must have governed the country well. Which appears to me to be pure nonsense because we know that there are more ways of staying in power than governing a country well.

But let’s give Kuan Yew a chance. We should not be so harsh on the elderly. Let’s just say that if the PAP, after decades of being uninterrupted leadership, wants to show that it has governed the country well, it should prove to us its worth instead of feeding us the third-world-to-first nonsense day after day. And since Kuan Yew seems to think that if the PAP does not govern Singapore well, it will not stay in power, let’s wait for the PAP to either prove its worth or fall out of power. The best way for the PAP to prove its worth is to turn Singapore into a nation.

When Kuan Yew says that Singapore is not (yet) a nation, he is regurgitating his old vomit and yet journalists seem to enjoy the taste of it enough to eat it up and impose it on the nation that is not one. What one would find interesting though is Kuan Yew KPI for nationhood. He thinks that Singapore would be a nation when Singaporeans will die for one another. This is one interesting idea that requires severe contemplation.

Let us not argue about whether it is true that Singaporeans need to die for Singaporeans before the absurd entity between Malaysia and Indonesia can be considered a nation state. There are many ways to define nationhood and it is not productive to argue about ways to define a construct that is essentially indefinable. It is about as useless as trying to convince everyone that one definition of femininity is The Definition of femininity (though everyone knows that Molly is the universal epitome of femininity, which is clearly something very good to have in a woman). And if we do not argue about the standard that Kuan Yew has set, we should just examine its implications and work towards nationhood—even if it’s for no other reason than to please him.

It is, first and foremost, reasonable to believe even in what Kuan Yew consider to be a nation, not everyone in the nation would be willing to die for their fellow citizens. Secondly, we need to acknowledge that we will not be able to tell if a person is willing to die for others unless he dies for others. After all, even Molly can claim to be willing to die for Singapore when all she really wants to do is to emigrate from the blossoming latrine that is apparently on its way to being a nation. These two ideas are important. It means that at least one Singaporean has to die for Singaporeans before we can prove that Singapore is a notion. Indeed, one Singaporean dying for others may not mean that there are enough Singaporeans willing to do the same. However, we clearly cannot require every Singaporean to die, regardless of their willingness, to prove that Singapore is a nation. We cannot even require every willing Singaporean to die. Otherwise the nation will cease to exist the moment it proves itself to be a nation. In short, we need, on the one hand, many Singaporeans who are willing to die for their fellowmen for Singapore to be considered a nation; and, on the other hand, we cannot test every single Singaporean because the Quality Check will destroy the product. We can only go by probability, so we need at least one person to die for Singaporeans before we have some proof that Singapore is a nation.

We may also want to say that acts of sacrifice are often inspirational. One person who sacrifices himself for others may inspire the same altruism in others, whether or not there is a chance to translate such altruism into action. It would be exceptionally impactful if the person is not some random Sue, Mary or Molly.

What I would propose, then, is for Kuan Yew to die. For the sake of Singaporeans, just die. A final act that would transform Singapore-nation from work in progress to work virtually completed. For Kuan Yew is an important leadership figure, the founding oppressor of Singapore. We know from common rhetoric that leaders should lead by example and when they do, others will model themselves after them. If Kuan Yew dies for the sake of Singaporeans instead of standing for the next 20 General Elections, we will, quite certainly, become a nation and he would realize his vision through his single, final act of sacrifice. And if one person is not enough, I would suggest that at least 81 of his colleagues follow suit and sacrifice themselves for the good of Singaporeans. I am waiting for Kuan Yew and his PAP colleagues to prove their worth through a noble sacrifice—or lose power, as Kuan Yew seems to think they would if they do not prove their worth. Perhaps Kuan Yew would find this hard to accept, but what is one hard truth for one man who has been bestowing us with so many hard truths over decades of leadership?

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