Everything Else

Dear Madam President

If someone living in Yishun Ave 4 could just help me show this to the lady with the jumbo flat and 3 reserved parking lots, if you manage to bump into her despite her small army of police escorts and bodyguards:

Dear Madam President,

Despite what people say, I do believe, especially right now, the Singapore Presidency truly should be the highest office in the land, but hor…

It isn’t for safeguarding the national reserves, that’s pretty much out of your hands.

It’s not for the President’s Challenge, you just have to show up.

And it’s not for being the Chief Scout of the Singapore Scouts Association, although my son very much appreciates your patronage to his CCA.

I believe you’re holding the most important state position right now because (and you have made quite a strong emphasis on this as well) you want to unite the people, especially now that it seems most of the other statesmen currently serving in parliament can’t be bothered to any more… well, not after we’ve seen how they got you where you are now anyway.

Of all your predecessors, I can only think of one that really tried, but then he took the safeguarding the national reserves part of his job scope a little too seriously, and, uh, not sure if this is the right term to use, but can we say “constructive dismissal”?

Uniting the people isn’t going to be as easy as saying “Come lah, together-gether we do” in our four official languages, you know. We’re really severely fractured here. I personally have had my heart torn to shreds over national issues so many times in recent years, not only watching racial tensions magnify, but getting embroiled in some of these incidents myself (and my heart truly, sincerely goes out to you for now getting caught in the middle of one of the biggest ones we are witnessing in recent years).

I have friends that I’ve both made and lost, discriminating against other friends based on race, language and religion, status, nationality and what I’ve personally found to be ugliest of all, gender: seemingly normal people tear into the lives of consciously non-normal people through complaints, petitions, protests and counter-protests for and against legislation, human rights and children’s books of all things: a mission of hate conducted by an army of self-righteous against a people who just want to be left alone to live and love without fear.

Right now, most of all, probably through no fault of yours (though I know a couple of people who’d beg to differ), a ruling elite that has demonstrated that an overwhelming population of both supporters and opposers who have told them since last year that what they’re trying to do was a terrible idea, the voices of the very people they serve, does not matter.

You want to unite this 40km by 20km hot mess of hate, ignorance, cynicism and disappointment? I want to believe you can, ma’am, I really sincerely do, but I’ve got to be honest with you, I really don’t know you can. Your being president alone is causing such a rift among the people you have sworn to serve, and I foresee your decision to remain in your flat in Yishun is going to complicate the lift-sharing arrangements in your block quite a bit. In fact, I realise now why we never really saw the guy you replaced come out all that often the entire time he held office.

I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m sorry you got put into this predicament; despite the strong front you’ve put up in the last few days, I cannot imagine how you must be feeling watching this humongous backlash hit you. And short of telling you the only people you can probably take reference to in order to unite your people (never mind the state at this point) are either the Dalai Lama and Pope Francis, I don’t have any good solution to offer you.

I do have some solace to offer you, though. I know a small bunch of people, myself included, that have grown so disenfranchised with how the country is being run right now that we’ve decided to help some of the people on our own. Because of our education system, I know people helping other parents with homeschooling. Because of our national manpower management, I know people who care for abused foreign workers. Because of our transport system, I know people who are helping others figure out how to cycle to work instead. And because that one guy who we actually liked, who actually listened to us, who we thought was just starting to make a difference in how this country was supporting families, now has to take over your previous job, I know people, me included, who are quietly helping our communities on our own, in our own terms, because we don’t think we can depend so much on those people you’re working with any more.

We haven’t got much faith left, ma’am. Not a lot of hope, either. Now that you’re in your new job, if you could restore just some of that (I’m managing my expectations), I think we’d really, truly be grateful to you. But if you can’t, ma’am, it’s okay. You were given a big hot inhuman mess to sort out to begin with already, and we, your people, also need to manage our expectations.

If you need to talk, ma’am, I’m always on Facebook. And if you’re up for some kopi siew dai (you know, because that thing we’re suddenly on about diabetes), I live near Yishun, too. I can always cycle over (I have to scrap my car soon).

Sincerely (I mean it, no joke),

Winston Tay

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