Lately, I hear a lot of grouses from Singaporeans about so many topics. Funny thing is when I am in Malaysia people tell me how much more worse off they are and how they would take up Singapore citizenship in an instant if they were to be offered it. These are the middle class people whom I would think have no reason to want to leave since they have already spent more than half a century of their life in Malaysia.
Amongst my friends who live in Singapore many want to retire in Malaysia. I wonder if they have kept in touch with the reality of life there today. Years back I can say that food is good and cheap. Today, this is no longer the case. Food is much more expensive and not necessarily as good as it once was. Somehow that Wow factor that is reminiscent of my childhood food memories is practically gone.
One of the nights I was on the way home from the funeral parlor and cannot help but notice that the streets were deserted, devoid of people and cars. I was told that people do not want to go out at night due to the high crime rate. There is this unease in the air, a sense that crime would be visited on one if the guard were to be let down even for a second.
Originally, we wanted to hold the funeral at the columbarium but told that it was in a remote area and chances of robbers walking in to rob the money collected for the funeral was very high. Or if the robbers don’t come in they would wait along the road and wait for you to come out before laying an ambush. You know what, when I first went to the columbarium to buy a place to put my father’s ashes I remember seeing a guard’s baton hanging there. So this wasn’t mere talk.
So we next thought perhaps holding it at home is better as that was what my friend did for her father’s funeral. She said that a guard came with the funeral package to keep watch throughout the night.
Anyway, whatever I wanted to do was out of my hands since it was a done deal by the time I was back. The funeral was held in town. My friends who came was surprised that the funeral employee didn’t ask us to leave by 10 pm as this part of town is no longer considered safe as there were cases of robbers walking right up to the person collecting the funeral money and sticking him up. I couldn’t believe my ears. Even the dead is fair game to robbers. Whatever is the country coming to?
I can’t help but lament the town of my childhood. In those cases I could ride a bicycle at 11 pm through town and there were still a lot of traffic. I felt safe then. Today I have to keep looking over my shoulder, prepared at an instant to visit violence on any criminal who tries to prey on me. Anyway, we left the funeral parlor at 11 pm and everyone left at the same time so that no one would be left alone and became easy prey for robbers.
However bad Singaporeans think the country is I wish they would come live in Malaysia. Then they will know what bad really is. Someone told me last night that when she visited Singapore for the first time she was surprised that she felt safe walking about at 4 am in the morning. She said that she didn’t feel the need to clutch her handbag tightly. Not that this would help because I was told that some robbers would come up behind the victim and bash him with a motorcycle helmet before robbing the unconscious prey.
I won’t be mention some of the other undesirable stories. Its just too depressing, that a bountiful and beautiful country should come to this. In Singapore when friends find out that I have taken up citizenship their response is nonchalant. Over here, everyone who heard that I gave up citizenship here gave me the thumbs up and wished they could do so too.
Sometimes, we don’t know that we are blessed until we one day lose it. I guess this is the only way for some of us to appreciate what we have. I am not a card carrying party member of some political party. I too have my grouses with the government but compared to some they seem like angels. I cannot erase this part of my life but I do wish that the relevant parties would get their act together for the greater good. I know its wishful thinking but to have some hope is better than none.
The grass always seem greener on the other side. The reality could be very much different from one’s perception.