Blast from the Past: Happy Chinese New Year

January 24, 2009

2247644823_91a00cd4c51It’ll be a sober Chinese New Year for many Singaporeans. The threat of retrenchment and spectre of recession haunts many of us. Uncertainty and uneasiness lingers in the air like the stench of stale cigarettes. For many, reunion dinners and visiting relatives will be ceremonial motions we go through while our fretful thoughts hover around the worrisome headlines of the limping global market.

 

It is a time when Singaporeans seek hope. It is a time when Singaporeans look for leadership. Unfortunately our present government seems to prefer extolling their exploits at expensive French cooking schools, not to mention their almost vulture-like ability to cannibalise their own for petty political capital by rebuking him in Parliament. We must thus look elsewhere for hope and leadership. We have to look to our past.

 

While Americans have their Obama, many Singaporeans forget that we had one of the greatest orators in the region – Lee Kuan Yew. The man may be many different things to many different people but it’s undeniable that he held a nation together with his words as much as his fists.

 

I’ve taken the liberty digging up Singapore’s very first Chinese New Year Message given by our very first Prime Minister in 1966. We had just been expelled from Malaysia and our future wasn’t all that bright. I hope the message is as inspiring to you today as it was to my parents some 43 years ago.

 

This is the first Chinese New Year we celebrate as our own masters. It is cause for rejoicing. The Year of the Horse should bring us strength to defend what we have got and to build a better future for our people.

 

We must plan and work for this. We must be conscious of our rights as joint owners of our country. We must together protect these rights and repel any pressure to prevent us from exercising our sovereignty to the best of our advantage. We must instill in our children that sense of endeavour to greater purpose which alone can secure our place in history in Southeast Asia.

 

But in the midst of these rejoicings, abundance of good food and good clothes, and free from the stifling shroud of silent intimidation and the threat of oppression, let us remember our friends and relatives who are not as fortunate as we are for their welfare, regardless of race, language or religion, we must always make common cause. For in the end our destinies cannot be separated. Let us renew our resolve that they shall never have reason to give up hope and that one day together we shall build a better and more just society.

 

[20 January 1966; Singapore Government Press Statement. Ministry of Culture]

 

Happy Chinese New Year…may the Year of the Ox bring you maximum harvest with minimum toil. Many thanks to all who have read and responded to my humble blog.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “Blast from the Past: Happy Chinese New Year”


  1. I must say that that wasn’t such a great speech in terms of rhetoric or style.

    However, I am rather touched by MM Lee’s message of “[remembering] our friends and relatives who are not as fortunate as we are for their welfare, regardless of race, language or religion”

    Right now, with such high income inequality, another genuine appeal of that sort will be nice. However, it seems that our government has lost the moral authority to do so due to the Yong-can-cook incident and the pay rises.


  2. […] Discourse – still me: Economy as ideological content – groundnotes: Blast from the Past: Happy Chinese New Year – Cavalierio: Orison of […]


  3. […] Discourse – still me: Economy as ideological content [Recommended] – groundnotes: Blast from the Past: Happy Chinese New Year – Cavalierio: Orison of odium [Recommended] – TOC: Euthanasia – The right to self-determination – […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: