Sunday, August 9, 2009


"Looking back, I am glad I went through NS. Because of NS, it forced me to work harder, seek opportunities abroad and settle down overseas. I met a friend of mine who once commented that Singaporeans have a high tolerance for abuse by the government. It is like someone hits you, you complain but you take more beatings and after a while, you get used to it. The issue is not about the 'privilege' of being a Singaporean, but that many Singaporeans lack the courage to do something about it." -John

This is a comment from John regarding a recent post about NS. Skeptic wonders if it is the same commentor who talked about finding a job overseas. Anyway, what he said stirred up my own personal bad memories of NS.

To be honest, I wasn't so keen on leaving Singapore until I myself suffered 2.5 years of NS. Up till then, I had experienced many bad things growing up but it seemed that NS was the tipping point. This makes me wonder whether, for some of us, NS makes us less patriotic rather than more.

Like the commentator, the pain and humiliation I suffered in NS made me more resolute in seeking my future away from Singapore. So if you are right now suffering under the system, my advice to you is to channel your resentment and anger towards something more productive. Use that energy to develop skills that would make you valuable outside of Singapore. Pretend to love the PAP system but plot to leave. Develop your abilities and resources so that you can one day become a productive citizen in another country.

I suppose the best phrase to describe it is the Chinese idiom 卧薪尝胆 which means 'steeling oneself for bitter revenge'. The best form of revenge is to lead a successful life abroad and deprive the PAP system of your abilities.

Note to non-Chinese speakers: There is a very interesting story behind the phrase 卧薪尝胆 which literally translates as 'Sleeping on Brushwood and Drinking Gall'.

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