I should be among the disgruntled lot but when I dug deeper, I did not. It was tough growing up in the 60s and 70s with 4 other siblings. Our parents are illiterate and birth control was never their agenda as we popped up one or two years apart of each other. I am the second in the family. We were not taught values from day one as life was a struggle for us. The neighbourhood we were in was shady where gang fights were norm. I remember I was bullied by a teenage gangster who threw cigarette into my singlet for no rhyme or reason. I was about ten then. That gangster still lives around the neighbourhood but he is an old man now. I still see him on few occasions. One can forgive but will never forget. The flat we were living in was one-hall type with a common corridor shared by all. Even a fart can be heard from far. There is no room for privacy, we slept in the hall and sometimes my brothers and I slept in the kitchen. The block had since been demolished as our country progressed.
Tried he did, my father could not maintain a regular income to keep us going and my mom had to straddle with few part time jobs. It was a hard life. My mother’s focus then was to put food on the table and when the going got tough, she decided to operate a gambling den in our small flat. She is not a hard core gambler but by allowing our place to operate as a gambling den, she could earn overriding commissions from the gamblers. It gave decent income by our own standard. At any one time, there were more than 30 people squeezing in our small flat. Gambling will start at 1000 am and end at 1000 pm 24/7. They played black jack game. The gamblers were some neighbours, manual labourers, gangsters and even housewives, you name it. They had their lunch, their dinner and sometimes, supper at our house and the game will never stop until very late. It went on for few years. No police raided our place, not even once. I wished they had. It was stuffy, smoky and ventilation was poor. Door had to be closed for obvious reasons. I hated it very much and once tried to stop the gamblers from coming into our house but only to end up with cane marks on most parts of my body save for the face. Sheepishly, I once swore I wanted to be a policeman to nab all the gamblers but it was a pipe dream. As expected, our grades were badly affected. There was no proper place to study at all. Mixing with bad company was easy but it was the last thing in my mind and so too for my siblings. The gambling activity ended altogether until I went NS. By then, my mom realised too late that I am very anti-gambling. Life got a little better from there on. However, I find comfort that none of my sibling including me ended up as compulsive gamblers despite the environment we were in.
This was Singapore in the 60s & 70s. Had we not progressed and punched above the line in the last few decades, this little red dot will still remain a shady place where corruption is rampant, standard of living is low, education standard is low and worse still, suppressed under “bad governance”. The progress of our small nation is the marvel of many countries and it does not happen overnight. Rightly or wrongly, I should oppose the ruling government for the sorry stage I was in. I did not have the privilege to live in a safe and comfortable environment then. My parents were poor and we were deprived of many things we could have yearned for. Common sense prevailed; had the government of the day not recognised that we must forge ahead despite the many uncertainties ahead, do we have a modern Singapore now? They had the good foresight, the perseverance and painstakingly guided the country to that of a developed nation. No, I am not an “ungrateful piece of shit” who just enjoys opposing for the sake of opposing. This is the government I know, from LKY to GCT to present LHL. It is easy to oppose but I can’t find major faults to oppose. Our young nation is still very much a work-in-progress which is totally dependent on the outside for its survival. This is a fast moving world and if we think we have arrived, it will be the day we see us going down the trend. I can’t thank our government enough for giving us such a safe and nice environment to live in. March on, Singapore...march on PAP!