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What does it take to keep a nation together?

You must ask yourself, “What does it take to keep a nation together?”

A household of five or ten is easier to manage. Yet, as they grow in age, things get more complicated. Differences of opinions abound, and the head of the household will have to mediate. At times, it is a tight rope to traverse.

How conflicts are resolved is the key to how we keep a family together. The last thing we want to do is to sow seed of discord and distrust, and water it with a sinister aim to break trust and hope. For a nation, it is even more complex.

I believe we are a highly pragmatic nation. Like farmers, we protect the crops. Every acre of land counts. We keep it regularly and properly furrowed, so that they receive the seed well.

We make sure the soil is well tilthed. This will ensure that they are “loose, friable and well-granulated”. The aim is not to make the soil hard and blocky.

That is a simple metaphor of how we educate our young. MOE bears the sacred responsibility, and the goal of universal compulsory education is to ensure no child is siloed from the rest to develop in his/her own ways. Especially in this day and age, it’s either you educate them as one for a worthy purpose or they get their feeding online and you risk extremist’s mindset.

I am constantly reminded that there is power in our youth. In the wrong hands, they can turn them into a revolutionary force to destabilise, or overthrow, a nation.

Of course, it can work the other way too, where they are universally indoctrinated to serve the goal of a dictator. But, the track records thus far show that we are still within safe limits, where trust in our education system, though not perfect, is preserved.

Running a nation is always about making pragmatic and tactical choices, one that keeps the law and order in the long run. Some are more careful than the others, and rather err on the side of caution.

Yes, you can’t please everyone, and that is far from the goal of government. It is not about pleasing everyone, an impossible goal, but it is about keeping the peace, despite un-peaceable views.

And keeping the peace is a dedicate art of politics, where you have to anticipate, forecast, manage, assure, trust and hope, put your foot down, draw the line, be present and humble, and have the courage to do what is right in the long run. At times, it’s a judgment call, and you live with the consequences when it backfires.

In today’s report, I return to the farmer metaphor when it comes to Character and Citizenship Education (“CCE”). The education minister spelt it out concerning the latest parental furore about the lesson meted out on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

He said: “So, we have to be very careful not to let the seeds of hatred and distrust be planted in our younger generations.”

“We must understand Singapore’s vulnerabilities and interests, and work hard to preserve our cohesion, mutual tolerance and acceptance, and find ways to preserve our multiracial and multi-religious harmony.”
I can’t say I disagree with that. The general direction is the only way to go. The price of peace is the canary in the coalmine. A whiff of hatred and distrust can end the canary and break the system down.

Unless we are ruled by a dictator, the common ground is the ground we all stand on. It’s the nation’s foundation. The minds of our young is the seed, because the reaped harvest in due season will either come back to haunt us or fortify us as a nation.

We need to plough it right, plant it right, water it right, and protect its growth right. Weeds have to be pulled out and locusts kept at bay.

He has a point with this observation: “At the end of the day, it is not issue- or conflict-specific.” What is important in Singapore is how we unite a multiracial and multireligious nation, which is vulnerable and sensitive to conflicts.

I therefore return to running a nation and a household. They do overlap, but different considerations prevail for both. We must be prudent to discern the difference, and be consistent to pursue what is best for our people in the specific context upon which they interact with one another.

I end with these 4 objectives enunciated by the Education Minister for your digest, on the goals of engaging in conversations with our young.

“First, to help students understand their own emotions and empathise with others; second, to reflect on how to safeguard cohesion and harmony in a multiracial society; third, to learn to verify information sources before sharing them responsibly; and fourth, to appreciate the diversity of views and conduct conversations sensitively and respectfully.”

These are general statements, and I appreciate that applying them at the grassroot level needs to be dynamic, sympathetic, and adaptable. This will take some tweaking and tinkering along the way. Not everyone will be pleased with it. You just have to plough through and believe that you are headed in the right direction, along the guardrails of the right principles.

(I caveat that I have not read the CCE on the Israel-Hama conflicts, and I thus reserve my comment on it).

 

Michael Han

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

22 Responses to “What does it take to keep a nation together?”

  • Awesome:

    Someone who says good good good and ends by admitting he doesn’t know what’s going on.

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  • Absurdity:

    How did you end up writing so much rubbish online? Once you have leaders who pay themselves astronomical packages and fail to take accountabilities for failures over and over again, you have a warped political system that needs acute corrections. You won’t know how scary the food that is cooked for you unless you look at their kitchens, including the kitchen from your beloved minister.

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  • rice:

    Lets be honest.
    Sg is now a more fragmented nation than 2 decades ago.
    So-called “meritocracy” as practisecd here nowadays is basically “To each his own”.
    YOU DIE YOUR BUSINESS is not a falsehood.
    Its whether we sincerely acknowledge it.

    As an elderly sg,the current Sg is a dark comedy.
    If we are truly a caring and progressive nation,why are elderly poor sgs committing suicide? WHY EXACTLY?

    To win votes,the G actually “spoils” the younger sgs.
    Let us touch our hearts and admit it.

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  • dave:

    Who is supporting the genocide of the Palestinians by the Americans and the Jews?

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  • CraftySnake:

    Don’t serve the devil who promises you the sky is the limit and the world is your oyster because you end up working for wolves while you become obedient sheep under the law of their jungle before devouring you for supper.

    When you are successfully integrated you will hear no evil, see no evil and speak no evil under the devil’s law( the four objectives) and folks that’s how peace is achieved by succumbing to the devil.

    Of course you can’t accuse him of being the devil because he is lawfully sensible economically.

    “I believe we are a highly pragmatic nation. Like farmers, we protect the crops/economymoney.”

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  • @dave

    The richest Jewish family on planet Earth that has the Democrats in its pocket.

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  • @dave

    The richest Jewish family on planet Earth that has the Democrats in its pockets.

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  • Light The Way:

    What does it take to keep a political party together?

    Money. Lots of it.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    @ If we are truly a caring and progressive nation,why are elderly poor sgs committing suicide? WHY EXACTLY?

    Many possible reasons mentally, physically or emotionally.

    https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/suicides-reported-singapore-476-2022-highest-more-20-years-3597791

    Likewise HK 从乱到治到興 ….

    https://www.thestandard.com.hk/breaking-news/section/4/206515/Hong-Kong-sees-1,080-suicides-in-2022-as-rate-breaks-record-in-2007

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  • Dalai Says:

    Togetherness seemed to require a commitment to the good of this country, even when its good was at odds with the greater good of everyone …… appeared to conflict with the universal demands of ethics. Even though I can be partisan, I’ve always believed that diversity — including diversity of opinion on issues — is healthy for the nation. Even though I may disagree with my neighbor, I respect their opinion. It is the “rule of law” which binds us together, even though the law does and will change with the ebb and flow of political currents and world events.

    So is unity a bad thing? Yes, very often it is. And is morality a better thing? Yes, it usually is. And that distinction is more sensible and useful than writer’s rather patriotic discursion into our political ideas. But it is Taylor Swift in Singapore now, so perhaps that explains why his essay goes astray to conclude in such a ham-fisted way: a lame patriotic salute!

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  • SINGAROAR:

    I don’t know about the writer’s household but my father who was in the media always taught us not to give the same answer as all our siblings but to give different answers and to be able to support the answers with information. I think that is education not what CCS dished out to the kids.

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  • Groupthinkers:

    They want unity of idea and unity of emotion. All cheer for the same side. Luckily, we have independent minded parents who don’t want their kids to be like that.

    SINGAROAR:
    I don’t know about the writer’s household but my father who was in the media always taught us not to give the same answer as all our siblings but to give different answers and to be able to support the answers with information. I think that is education not what CCS dished out to the kids.

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  • Ownself praise ownself:

    We appear to be doing badly, but others are doing worse. We are not so bad. In fact, we are doing well.

    Mast***** Medal.

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  • dave:

    $1 for you…$1,000 for me.

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  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Dalai Says:
    Togetherness seemed to require a commitment to the good of this country, even when its good was at odds with the greater good of everyone …… appeared to conflict with the universal demands of ethics. Even though I can be partisan, I’ve always believed that diversity — including diversity of opinion on issues — is healthy for the nation. Even though I may disagree with my neighbor, I respect their opinion. It is the “rule of law” which binds us together, even though the law does and will change with the ebb and flow of political currents and world events.

    So is unity a bad thing? Yes, very often it is. And is morality a better thing? Yes, it usually is. And that distinction is more sensible and useful than writer’s rather patriotic discursion into our political ideas. But it is Taylor Swift in Singapore now, so perhaps that explains why his essay goes astray to conclude in such a ham-fisted way: a lame patriotic salute!

    Very well said.

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  • Ah Bert Cannot Bochap:

    “Dear Singaporeans, I am glad many of you take a firm stand on the Israel-Hamas issue pertaining to what MOE has done in the classroom.

    As a parent, if you are not careful, you will allow the state to brainwash your kids to their side of the narrative.

    We also can’t protest, can’t gather, can’t do much on this global issue, which inflamed many countries and are told now to take a neutral stand by our government.

    What’s a neutrality stand?

    It’s a plain bochap attitude, I feel, so that nobody will get angry in the benign name of harmony and peace.”

    Only bochap?

    Nobody consider US bocap. It’s an accomplice.

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  • Ah Bert is Angel:

    Singaporean activist Gilbert Goh, through his initiative Love Aid Singapore, has made significant strides in providing humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territories in Gaza.

    With nearly S$750,000 (US$558,663) raised, Goh and his team are addressing the acute needs of approximately 300,000 isolated Palestinians in North Gaza. The area faces severe restrictions and hardships, further exacerbated by the suspension of World Food Programme aid due to security concerns.

    Despite these challenges, Love Aid Singapore is committed to ensuring the continuation of their food program in Jabalia and Rafah, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.

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  • rice:

    The way to bond the Nation together is the same as to bond a family together.
    ALL family members must feel united.
    Unity is not making policies that are divisive in anyway so as to display favour to one group vs another.
    We cannot tell our YOUNG that giving more assistance to our elderly means the future tax burden of the young would be increased.
    What about the reserves accumulated by the older singaporeans and the Baby Bonuses dished out to younger sgs even those DRAWING HIGH SALARIES?
    By doing this,the G is actually “nurtuting” SELF-CENTREDNESS AND THE TENDENCY TO GIVE OUT WRONG SIGNALS to our young pertaining to MORAL SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY,is it not likely?

    G talks about Happy Ageing,etc.
    But WHAT IS G DOING TO ENSURE IT?
    For example,the G can begin to look into RETIREMENT VILLAGES ,etc,.
    Regularise and then Regulate COST OF LIVING.
    If the G can even run supermarket,operate lottery,etc,WHY CAN’T THE G OPERATE RETIREMENT VILLAGES to help in our seniors’ Happy Ageing?

    TIME TO WALK THE TALK.
    Just talking is useless.

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  • Harder Truths:

    $inkieland is also beholden to the Genocidal Jewish State and USA. Karma will catch up with this small island full of FT running the economy and with stupid locals begging for scraps.

    Once the US stock market and investments in $inkieland dry up (including the banks) then $inkiland will become just another backwater trading port. Malacca and Penang are being built up by China / Malaysia to take over $inkieland’s overpriced port facilities.

    Jabbing themselves to death is apparently a good idea. The problems will escalate with time. Nothing can help the 95% true-believers. This includes the fake opposition of ballsless fornicators who run to the Regime screaming ‘Save us..have mercy on us..” when they are swallow fake news and end up in the morgue.

    Doing deals wit the Devil and his cronies is going to make $tupid $inkies extinct. It is only a matter of time.

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  • PAP mandate strong:

    @ Malacca and Penang are being built up by China / Malaysia to take over $inkieland’s overpriced port facilities.

    OK.
    We shall see.
    So what deadline is your expectation above ? 5 years or 10 years or 15, 20 years later ?

    At least currently from the position of strength, Malaysia JB in a way seek help from Sg to revive forest city and not ending up as a white elephant. Personally Country Garden no different from Evergrande. Special economic zone, not a bad thing for both sides.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.scmp.com/week-asia/economics/article/3248272/malaysia-seeks-revive-china-backed-forest-city-megaproject-never-mind-stray-dogs-crocodiles-and-day

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  • dave:

    Ah Bert is Angel:
    Singaporean activist Gilbert Goh, through his initiative Love Aid Singapore, has made significant strides in providing humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territories in Gaza.

    With nearly S$750,000 (US$558,663) raised, Goh and his team are addressing the acute needs of approximately 300,000 isolated Palestinians in North Gaza. The area faces severe restrictions and hardships, further exacerbated by the suspension of World Food Programme aid due to security concerns.

    Despite these challenges, Love Aid Singapore is committed to ensuring the continuation of their food program in Jabalia and Rafah, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan.

    Bravo to Gilbert and his friends for doing a fine job. But would the devils allow their supplies to get into the hands of the needy Palestinians?

    God is watching from a distance. Evilness begets evilness. Evilness is to condone the cruel acts of the devils and try to explain it away.

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  • Laojiao:

    $50/- transport must apply..appeal..reject..jobless senior bonus only for eligible

    Now u so-tong said together
    You a-team leh
    Give me your salary then we talk
    Goondu

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