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Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ex-patriot

A very strange letter to the Straits Times today, so bizarre that it is most likely some form of satire:

Can Singaporeans be as patriotic?

I COULD not help but feel the patriotism of Chinese citizens here in China as many marched in protest against recent foreign intervention in events leading up to the Beijing Olympics.

News reports showed many Chinese taking up flags and protesting against foreign outlets, especially the French superstore Carrefour, in response to the aborted torch relay in Paris.

But the protests were peaceful and non-confrontational. I could feel the protestors' nationalistic fervour.

Their patriotism puts me to shame. I feel that I would never take to the streets to protect and honour my country's name at the risk of my own personal safety. What if there was a riot and I was trampled to death? There are too many risks involved in taking part in a demonstration.

The moments when I do feel patriotic are during National Day when the President stands to attention as our national anthem is being sung.

I fear that many Singaporeans will leave the country if there really is an impending confrontation with another country.

Will we stand up and defend Singapore? Do we fear for our own personal safety and that of our families and flee the country at the first whiff of danger?

The feeling I get from the Chinese here is that they are willing to die to defend their country.

We have much to learn from them.

Gilbert Goh
Hubei, China


A straight reading of this letter indicates that Mr. Goh is impressed with the nationalistic spirit displayed by Chinese protesters and hopes that Singaporeans will learn from them.

However, there are two main clues suggesting that there is a satirical twist in this letter.

First, check out this paragraph:

Their patriotism puts me to shame. I feel that I would never take to the streets to protect and honour my country's name at the risk of my own personal safety. What if there was a riot and I was trampled to death? There are too many risks involved in taking part in a demonstration.

Odd.

Why would anyone's display of patriotism put someone else to "shame"? To take one example, Singaporean supporters of sports teams also show strong displays of national pride complete with flags and loud cheering during international events.

Perhaps Mr. Goh believes that patriotism is some kind of dickfight where the country with the most impressive display, the most supporters, biggest flags and loudest cheering becomes the winner. Then the other countries can only lower their heads in "shame".

Also, since Mr. Goh admits that he will never take part in a street demonstration, citing "risks" to his personal safety, how can he turn around and question the courage of other Singaporeans? He seems to be expecting others to do what he would personally never do.

Which bring us this to the second clue:

I fear that many Singaporeans will leave the country if there really is an impending confrontation with another country. Will we stand up and defend Singapore? Do we fear for our own personal safety and that of our families and flee the country at the first whiff of danger?

Note that Mr. Goh is now based in Hubei, China, which means that he himself has left Singapore. Perhaps he smelt a whiff of danger?

It is extremely unlikely that someone would have so little introspective ability to miss the hypocrisy of this stand.

It is extremely extremely unlikely that someone could believe that a person who left his own country suddenly has the moral high ground to teach patriotism to Singaporeans who stayed in Singapore trying to make things better.

More likely Mr. Goh has crafted his letter as a satirical device lampooning Singaporeans who are too timid to take a stand, always waiting for somebody else to take the initiative, and always complaining that nothing ever changes while not personally willing to make any changes.

So my short response to his letter (in an equally satirical, jokey vein):

Fuck you.

You think that just because you are now making peanuts by quitting to China means you can use your elite uncaring face to teach us how to eat mee siam mai hum then brush it aside and say just move on because what to do it happened you better show accountability and not be complacent by explaining what you mean or else we'll fix you when you come back.

Lim Peh,

Lim Leng Hiong
Singapore

9 Comments:

angry doc said...

I actually think his letter is a dig at the government, given that Singaporeans are not allowed to hold demonstrations even if they wanted to.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

No, it's really lamenting the lack of patriotism among Singaporeans.

Really.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Lim, I so enjoyed your lampooning of that idiot in Hubei.

Please do not speak for MY patriotism from that faraway foreign land.

I am a Singaporean patriot. The uncaring elite can always up and go at the first whiff of trouble to other distant lands with the Gilbert Gohs of this world. Alas, the poor heartlanders - Ah So and Ah Pek ... they cannot emigrate so easily like our elite leaders ... you know ... the first class talents with million dollar salaries with straight As at levels. Other countries cannot wait to embrace these super talents into their bosom. So who will stand up and fight for poor Ah Pek and Ah So?

Moi of course!

Stand up for Singapore! Do the best you can! Stand up, Stand up for Singapooooour...

Shy Patriot.;-)

Edgar said...

I have no idea what this guy is trying to say, after reading it a few times, I've come to the conclusion that he is attempting to remote-teach singaporeans patriotism from his armchair in China.

He has absolutely no moral high ground to preach this, as you have aptly pointed out. He isn't in Singapore, he says he is afraid to join in any patriotic activity and hints that he will run when anything happens.

He is either oblivious to how silly he sounds or he truly thinks that we are all wimps and wishes to assume that we all are like him.

Angry doc is probably too kind to assume such a clever poke at the government by someone who sounds this silly. I believe that patriotism isn't just about demonstrations and once can show dignified restraint instead of protesting and hurting our foreign relations by protesting in front of foreign owned outlets.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Shy Patriot and Edgar:

It's difficult, maybe impossible to know for sure what he really really means in the letter.

Satire and sarcasm may be fun for shits and giggles, but overdoing it can lead to an effect like Poe's Law, where the actual stand of the person becomes impossible to elucidate, and no communication can occur.

Edgar said...

Did you see his forum letter today praising the layout of Straits Times? He's a serial forum letter writer.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Edgar:

It figures.

Onlooker said...

He is in for a shock when those in Hubei found out he is useless and fire him or when their rioters Scholars return home after discovering the grass is not greener in other places(hint America dollar).
Peaceful? S Korea riot???
And This generation are Brainwash to the point that when someone say like
Mr Goh"NiuNiu你知道19你知道1989年的天安门事件吗?"
NiuNiu"huh?"
Mr Goh"Or The cultural revolution?"
NiuNiu"chairman Mao is like god :)"
Kinda Sad :)

Lim Leng Hiong said...

To Onlooker:

Yes, rioting is not "peaceful and non-confrontational".

Since Mr. Gilbert Goh closely follows this topic, unless he recommends that Singaporeans should learn how to riot as a sign of patriotism, it would be good if he could update his opinion by sending a new letter reflecting on the latest news.

Somehow I doubt that will ever happen.

As for job opportunities; even if Mr. Gilbert Goh loses his job in Hubei someday, there is no need to be shocked.

There are still many employment prospects here in Singapore, and I think many employers here eagerly await his return to teach them how to learn patriotism from Chinese citizens.