Pre-National Day Special Report: S’poreans have it better now

Posted on 23 July 2012

Reasons aplenty, as the older generation recounts how far Singapore has come.

Always remember, the past was in black and white or sepia, compared to the millions of bright colours we have now.

As many people are keenly aware, Singapore has gone from Third World cesspool to First World metropolis in 50 years.

Only to fall to Second World mediocrity now as we struggle with inflation, a bulging population that renders everywhere squeezy and public infrastructure that is unfastening at the bolts because it was never made to be abused by so many people all at once.

But boy, how things have changed from Third Word to Second World then.

See Lao Tou, a 97-year-old grandfather of 44 grandchildren who once dabbled in the art of keeping concubines, recalls Singapore’s transformation as he spoke to reporters at the Central Business District: “In the past, Singapore was riddled with Communists. These days, it’s all capitalists pigs only.”

Pointing to Hong Lim Park after a three-and-a-half-hour stroll, the semi-senile man also said: “The roads are now all paved and there’s an abundance of greenery. This is in contrast to the past, where everything was only in black and white or sepia tone.”

And with paved roads, Singapore has become an ideal place for old people to grow up in.

See’s wife, Zhen Nian Qing, recalls being told stories of how less easy things were back in the days where people still threw rocks at the police.

Zhen, a 27-year-old, China-born national, who is both a mother and step-grandmother, said in impeccable Mandarin: “My husband said he had to walk five kilometres with some of his wives last time to see the village doctor, who was also the chief abortionist and cobbler. These days we only need to walk one kilometre.”

Some proof that people only have to walk one kilometre these days:

Gone too are the days of violent ethnic strife.

Zhen said: “In the past, it used to be race versus race. These days, Singaporeans are very united. We locals go up against the foreigners.”

For other people, like 70-year-old Boh Zho Kang, an avid soccer-betting fanatic, togetherness has taken on a wholly different meaning in Singapore today.

He said: “Everyone was very free last time because unemployment was very high but there was work-life balance. So people had time to do leisure things in big groups like support the national soccer team and booing at Malaysia.”

“Therefore, with the state of local football what it is now, it is clear that Singaporeans as a whole are working too much, underpaid and under-appreciated. But employed, nonetheless”

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Wang Pei can be considered a new citizen of Singapore. She has been here all her life, just that her environment's changed beyond recognition.

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