Singa Quits: Reply from your taxpayer boss

Singa Quits

A frustrated and unhappy middle-aged worker

Lorong Cat - Singapore's Literate FelineBy Lorong Cat

Dear Singa

I urge you to reconsider your position with regards to your resignation letter, dated 15 May 2013, “Open Letter to Singapore – I Quit”. It seems to me that you are merely undergoing through a common — if not severe — case of mid-life crisis which plagues many mammals coming into existence of more than 30 years.

You have never taken a break from your demanding job as the mascot of courtesy and kindness in Singapore, where winning and being number one at all costs is the over-arching philosophy by which we are expected to live our lives. Coming into direct contradiction with this Kiasu mentality is how we are asked to conduct ourselves in a manner that does not betray this reality. Of course there are fine examples in history which tells us it is always possible to succeed gracefully without looking or acting like we really want to  do so very badly. First to mind is tennis great Roger Federer, the Swiss who is so gracious and charming in his winning ways he looked even sheepish or embarrassed to have lifted his 19th trophy at Wimbledon last year. But then very quickly I think of Serena Williams, the female opposite number of Federer in the tennis charts of great players, the ultra competitive American who famously swore and cursed in a manner that would make you, Singa, go into a seizure, at a line umpire who line-faulted her in the 2011 US Open finals and thus giving her opponent Kim Cljisters a match point.

I know you may not understand this because lions don’t play tennis, and I doubt you watch much television either. What I am trying to tell you is that Singapore is not the same country as the one you started in all those years ago. We are now a nation where a win-at-all-costs mentality is dominant and even encouraged as The Only way for us to survive, it lowers the importance we may place on any human decency, courtesy, graciousness and thoughtfulness that does not directly lead to tangible achievements. If Serena Williams is playing in a friendly match, she wouldn’t have gone berserk and all unruly in the example quoted. Sure, we can learn a little from Roger Federer but it is a fact of life that most of us are just average beings without blessed supernatural talents to succeed in this society.  We need to be at our desks at work by 8.30 am! If I let that other car into my lane, I will get stuck for another 5 minutes at the traffic light and how will my boss think of me when I step in late? If I elbow my way into the packed MRT train, it’s because there’s a good chance the next train will break down and I won’t be able to make it back home for another 2 hours.

But not all hope is lost, Singa. Some of us do not relinquish our seats on the MRT to pregnant ladies because Singaporean girls are so svelte by nature, sometimes they don’t look pregnant, just a little chubby. And it’s exactly thoughtfulness which makes some of us not willing to risk offending a lady who we thought is pregnant but may not be — you see what I mean?

Singa, regarding your rant about us being a rude bunch online, I am afraid to tell you this secret:  the rudeness is universal. Americans, Chinese, Indians, Greeks – they have rude online citizens too! This is something you can’t change and is a fact of life when you have freedom of expression. Sometimes people  make rude comments for fun and do not mean any  harm. Let it go.

Singa, do take some time out. By giving up on us, you are not only resigning from your post but also resigning to fate. I will approve a sabbatical for you if you promise to take a few months out to tour the world. Visit nations where graciousness is embedded into people’s daily lives. Read their papers, talk to their citizens and understand their politics and aspirations. I am sure you will uncover what it is that makes people there so much more easy-going than us here. Then, come back and help us sad lot. We will rejuvenate your public image by finding a better cartoonist to airbrush those wrinkles and make you cuter. We may even give you a proper name instead of some lame language translation if it helps with your identity crisis. There will be no Singa quitting on us.


Your boss, a taxpayer