What has a heavy downpour at the National Day Parade in 1968 got to do with Singapore's success story?
In his National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who himself took part in the parade that year, recalled that even though everyone was drenched and cold, nobody broke ranks.
It was a people determined to succeed and spoke volumes of the spirit and resolve that bond them together in difficult times.
I'm going to excuse PM Lee for these platitudes. It -was- his National Day speech, after all. So he needed to inject a double dose of the the feel-good factor.
vetoed by his more-politically-experienced dad.
I just want to point out that back in the 60s and 70s, the kampung kids always loved to play soccer in the pouring rain and get themselves all muddy. Kids these days just don't do things like that any more. I don't think this necessarily shows that the kampung kids were more determined to succeed in life and had more spirit and resolve.
Also, I think that if a parade took place today and it began to pour, no sensible NSman in the parade is going to walk off and get an umbrella either. Who would want to risk being charged for a military offence and possibly being thrown into detention barracks?
Just before the parade started, it began to pour.
But Colonel John Morris, the parade second-in-command recalled, there was no fidgeting on the parade square at the Padang.
He said: ".....it was raining cats and dogs, but because the decision was to carry on, we stood firm. Nobody fainted, as far as the army contingents were concerned."
Duh! What a silly comment. Of course no one fainted. No one ever faints in a parade on a rainy day. Everyone who's ever done NS knows that fainting happens on hot, sunny days. Fainting is due to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Not to getting wet in the rain. A heavy downpour is the best assurance that no one is going to faint during a parade.
I found the above comment somewhat offensive. The comparison is also grossly simplistic. It simply fails to take into account how much society has changed between then and now. One could just as well say:Asked for his views, the Minister Mentor felt the 1968 generation seemed more rugged than today's and that's because of the progress, material comfort and the way children are being brought up.
MM Lee said: "You look at the covered walkways. You look at the MRT, the LRT and you cast your mind back to our children going to school wet with umbrellas. So, it's a different milieu. It's a problem that all societies face once they have reached a certain level of physical comfort."
"Oh, children in the old days were such total wimps! They took only 5 O-level subjects and struggled to pass. School was only half-day! These days, children take nine or ten O-level subjects and are expected to aim for nothing less than straight A's! On top of that, they have to do compulsory CCA! Their school day lasts from 7 am to 7 pm, and then they go home and study till midnight! Young Singaporeans today definitely show a lot more determination, focus and discipline than the older Singaporeans did."
So what will it take to see Singapore through the next forty years?
MM Lee said: "It depends on how you bring up your children. If you bring up your children the way that your father brought you up with that same resolve, the same set of values, honesty, hard work, not trying to skive off people, I think, there is no reason why we can't make it".
But it is with respect to the above quote that Mr Wang really wants to say something. MM Lee suggests that there is something superior about the values that older Singaporeans have, and that we urgently need to imbue young Singaporeans with those same values. However, Mr Wang is VERY suspicious of this kind of thinking.
You see, Mr Wang does not believe that old is necessarily better. Mr Wang believes that while one particular set of values may have served society well in the past, that set of values may not necessarily serve society well in the future. Society is a complex thing, always evolving, and Mr Wang believes that the most successful societies are those where values have successfully changed with the changing times as well.
and taken up subsistence farming."
For instance, MM Lee talks about the importance of hard work. While diligence is still a virtue today, I think we should not regard it in quite the same hallowed light as the older generation used to. The older folks came from a generation where the phrase "working smart" did not exist yet. They operated in times where much more depended on manual labour rather than skills or creativity. They worked primarily to earn money and survive, and while that remains critical today, many young Singaporeans also rightly aspire to a career which they find genuinely interesting, fulfilling and meaningful.
So diligence remains important, yes, but the equation has grown more complex, and if you look in the Classifieds today, you will hardly find an ad where the employer says he wants a "diligent" or "hardworking" person. In terms of personal attributes, it is much more likely that the ad will mention requirements such as "strong interpersonal skills"; "able to work independently"; "dynamic personality"; "creative problem-solving" etc. More than MM Lee's words, these ads reflect what your children really need to be, in order to survive tomorrow.
MM Lee says that you should strive to bring up your own children the way your father brought you up. Mr Wang warns you that the world has changed. The old formulae, applied without adaptation, are an almost-certain route to disaster. For your children's sake, look to the future - now - and break free from the patterns of the past.
It's just not fashionable any more.
What does this cute kitten have to say about the whole episode? Click here to find out. See also Merv's take on the matter. Izydata has some thoughts to share too.