You can take this girl out of Singapore…

… but you cannot take Singapore out of this girl.

Just been browsing through some of my old blog entries and I didn’t have to scroll back much before coming across this post. I listened to the national anthem in the video and found my eyes brimming up uncontrollably again.

So many memories started to flood back into my mind. The happy days of childhood, the careless and carefree days of my teenage years, the depression of departure, and then multiple snapshots of my visits back home over the last decade and a half.

I am missing my home country again.

That is where my family and my best friends are. The people who have seen me at my best and my worst. The people who hold on to me and whom I hang on to. The people who have walked alongside me through days of “growing up.”  The people who are constantly asking me “when are you coming back?” The people who promise to help me resettle back to work and life in our little red dot when I am ready to be home again.

Yesterday, I found out that Gillian is all packed and her entire family will be relocating back to Singapore soon. I was surprised, since I was expecting her to stay on a little more in her new post as a paediatric consultant before heading home. Perhaps I was also a little sad, given that she has been here with me since my first day as a first year medical student (she was the most helpful 2nd year “senior” to me). Now, I feel almost a little jealous… that she will be heading back to the only place that has ever truly felt like “home” to me, to us.

It is not yet time for me to go back though. I still have to accumulate some experience as a new consultant before looking for jobs back in competitive Singapore. This time will also be useful for me to do some research on how and what needs sorting in the process of resettlement. And by the time I am ready to go back, I will be of an age to qualify for an HDB flat to call my home as well.

Singapore, I love you and miss you. Wait for me. I will be home soon.

(Another song to make the tears rock and roll….)

Whenever I am feeling low
I look around me and I know
There’s a place that will stay within me
Wherever I may choose to go
I will always recall the city
Know every street and shore
Sail down the river which brings us life
Winding through my Singapore

This is home truly, where I know I must be
Where my dreams wait for me, where the river always flows
This is home surely, as my senses tell me
This is where I won’t be alone, for this is where I know it’s home

 

When there are troubles to go through
We’ll find a way to start anew
There is comfort in the knowledge
That home’s about its people too
So we’ll build our dreams together
Just like we’ve done before
Just like the river which brings us life
There’ll always be Singapore

 

This is home truly, where I know I must be
Where my dreams wait for me, where the river always flows
This is home surely, as my senses tell me
This is where I won’t be alone, for this is where I know it’s home
This is home truly, where I know I must be
Where my dreams wait for me, where the river always flows
This is home surely, as my senses tell me
This is where I won’t be alone, for this is where I know it’s home
For this is where I know it’s home
For this is where I know I’m home

Majulah Singapura

15 years away from my home country.

Yet, listening to this rendition of our national anthem  on our 54th national day still has me in tears.

I had sung these lyrics every single day of my schooling life in Singapore. Now, 15 years on and in the UK, I still remember every single word of it.

I am so proud that my Singapore has progressed and prospered in the very ways that our forefathers had wished when this song was first penned. From a humble fishing village that was part of a Malays’ Malaysia, we have transformed into a stunning, developed and independent Singapore. A true rags-to-riches story, an awe-inspiring tale of proving nay-sayers wrong.  A change that I am proud to witness, and a progress that I am glad to be a part of.

I love our Singapore story.

Come, fellow Singaporeans. Let us move forward together.

Come fellow Singaporeans,
(Let’s) renew life as one nation.
With peace and effort,
we move forward together.

We live in peace and cooperation
to achieve happiness
(May) our noble aspiration (make)
Singapore successful!

Come, let us unite
With a new spirit
(Together) we all proclaim:
Onward Singapore!
Onward Singapore!

Come, let us unite
With a new spirit
(Together) we all proclaim:
Onward Singapore!
Onward Singapore!

Trump-Kim Summit

This is a historic moment. A handshake that the world never thought we would ever see. A meeting that may see the denuclearisation of North Korea and a promise of peace.

A few months ago, these 2 men were trading insults over twitter. One calling the other a “Dotard”, and the other name-calling his Korean counterpart “Rocketman.” North Korea was furiously testing their nuclear missiles, promising to reach North American shores with their nuclear weapons. The threat of a nuclear world war 3 was so real that even I got scared.

Yet somehow, something seems to have changed. Kim Jung Un is suddenly interested in negotiating peace. In a short space of time, he has announced the completion of his country’s nuclear testing. He dismantled one of NK’s major nuclear test sites. He met with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-In and even invited the latter to cross over the threshold into his country. He agreed to meet with his arch enemy Donald Trump.

This cruel dictator who surely has an endless list of humanitarian crimes under his name is suddenly becoming human. I don’t know why. I can only trust that this is my God at work in his heart.

God is surely at work. Perhaps it is for this moment in history– the meeting of the NK chairman and US president, that “the worst thing ever happened” 2 Novembers ago. Perhaps this is the reason God allowed Donald Trump to win the United States presidential race. It takes a mad man to subdue another mad man… perhaps this is God’s purpose in it all. After all, my God is the master at using the most awful of situations to his glory.

May this handshake truly mark the beginning of  the promise of peace… and perhaps even liberation and progress in the hermit state of North Korea.

P.s. This was set in sunny Singapore, at the Capella hotel in Sentosa. I am so pleased that our little country was able to play a part in setting the scene for this meeting. Admittedly, I was worried… “why did they have to choose us?” did cross my mind. I fretted over the security and safety of my family and fellow citizens. These 2 men are volatile, powerful, and surely have no lack of potential assassins. Will their combined presence disturb the peace in our placid little island? I should never have worried… Singapore did a wonderful job hosting. Our military and police men and women stepped up. We spent 20 million SGD as the price for peace, and in the process have gained so much more back in media exposure that will surely blow up our tourism trade. Well done, I am so proud of our sunny island.

Singapore, I miss you

Maybe it’s the Joseph Schooling effect… lately, I have been feeling very patriotic.

Indeed, I have been missing Singapore tremendously in the last few days. Its sunshine, its food, and most importantly its people.

And so I have been seeking out a way to connect myself back to my roots- via the internet.

Usually, I steer clear of Singaporean TV shows and youtube videos because I find them unoriginal, uninspiring, sometimes un-classy and often incredibly cringeworthy. These days, I find myself binge-watching the creative products of many of these Singaporean creators, laughing at uniquely Singaporean jokes and feeling blissfully at home with the (usually jarring) Singaporean accent.

Singapore is by no means perfect. I still have major issues with its xenophobia, with its millennials’ sense of entitlement and self-centredness, with its childish dependence on the government to sort everything out, with its complacency and constant complaining…

Yet, I guess all these problems cannot take away the fact that my heart has been planted in its soil and taken root since 30 years ago. After all these years away, I still love the place where I was born and brought up. I love that we are a hard-working, meritocratic society, that we are a safe city, that we are a generally harmonious multiracial and multicultural place, and that we speak a unifying language called Singlish.

I watched a Singaporean video today about speaking better English. It was hilarious to hear the awkward accent and broken sentence structures. Personally, I have no problems with Singlish as long as it is spoken amongst Singaporeans, and as long as one can switch over to speak proper English when necessary.

To Singaporeans, and to Singlish:

Another page added to Singapore’s history book

At approximately 9am Singapore time this morning, our nation celebrated.

For the first time in the history of our tiny nation, Singapore has won an Olympic gold medal.

Finally. A medal. A gold one.

And a record to boot too! An Olympic record. 50.39 sec in the men’s 100m butterfly final.

Snatched by a true blue born-and-bred Singaporean.

What an amazing sight it was to behold, to see this man touch the wall at the end of his race ahead of the great Michael Phelps. As the Straits Times correspondent eloquently puts it, “He grows up worshipping a water god who hasn’t lost a major 100m butterfly race since 2005 and then he drowns his deity’s dream.”

Joseph Schooling has done our nation proud.

Joy and pride swelled as our national anthem resonated through the aquatics centre in Rio. For the first time ever.

Watching this young man standing on the podium, hand on his heart, muttering the words of Majulah Singapura under his breath as our national flag is raised above the others… I cried.

I will never understand how hard he has worked to get to where he is. I can only imagine the sacrifices and the suffering he has endured… but only he can truly attest to how arduous this journey has been.

As a spectator, I can only congratulate him, and say thank you. Thank you for doing Singapore proud.

I am incredibly inspired.

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Singapore is incredibly proud of you Joseph. Because of you, people have sat up and taken notice of our crescent moon and five stars.

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However, being Singaporeans, we must add comedy to even the most touching of moments. Here is a Facebook post by our Ministry of Education no less! In response to calls by the public for a celebratory public holiday…

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And a brilliant come-back by a well-schooled and witty Singaporean.

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