Since I was 15 I’ve refused to sing the national anthem and to recite the pledge.
I know it seems like typical teen rebellion but I’ve uphold this practice for over a decade.
Don’t get me wrong, I know the words to our pledge and I can recite them but I don’t mean a word of it if I said it.
So lets analyze the pledge and why I refuse to recite it.
We the citizens of Singapore
Pledge ourselves to be one United people
Regardless of race, language or religion
Do we really pledge ourselves to be one united people?
Especially the regardless of race part.
How archaic is it that we’re so concerned about race, that it’s in our identity card.
Take my ethnic heritage for example, my mother was born to a Malay woman and a Javanese man.
My father was born to a Chinese mother who was adopted by a Malay family after the war raised Malay and a Malay father.
So being half Malay, my identity card says my race is Malay.
Here’s the problem, I don’t feel Malay and people mistake me for being Chinese often
Sure I speak the language, I don’t follow the traditions and culturally I don’t see myself as Malay.
On top of that, unlike most Malays, I’m an atheist to boot.
I don’t feel a sense of kinship with someone just because they’re Malay, Chinese or Javanese.
My kinship towards people comes when we share similar principles and views about the world, not superficial things like “race”.
If I was to describe what I am, I’d just say I’m Singaporean, my Nationality and that is changeable.
And there are more and more children in this day and age who are products of interracial parents.
Not much to say on the language part.
I mean it’s annoying when people who are born here are mono linguists, I won’t name which Channel 8 Mediacorp artists, so there we go even on the language part we have mono linguists.
Religion, well all I can say is, when the founding father, Lee Kuan Yew says disparaging remarks about Muslims and Jason Neo gets to skirt around the law for being derogatory towards a school bus full of muslim kindergarteners and skirt around the law for 4 years, while a sixteen year old boy is being trialed as an adult for making mention of Jesus once and Christians twice in an 8 minute long video about Lee Kuan Yew, I’m just saying, something smells fishy.
As an atheist, I find blasphemy laws for non believers, also known as “Sensitivity laws” to be ludicrous.
I understand why blasphemy laws apply for believers because to question is to doubt and to doubt defeats the purpose of faith but me as an atheist, if a religious person tries to ingrain their religious doctrines into my head, am I then not allow to refute their indoctrination for fear of “wounding their religious feelings”, What about my feelings?
You’re right to say my feelings don’t matter and neither do the feelings of the religious, being able to have a debate, no my Singaporean friends a debate doesn’t need to happen in some auditorium with tons of viewers debates can be impromptu on the spot and informal too, and challenge religious ideology or any ideology for that matter broadens one’s mind and offers a new perspective. It’s part of being able to think for yourself when you’re allowed to have your beliefs challenged.
Oh did I mention Jehovah’s Witness is criminalized here?
Now the first half is done, lets move on to the last part.
To build a democratic society
Based on justice and equality
So as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress
For our Nation
Are we really a democratic society, though?
We’re nearing our 50th anniversary of independence and Parliament is still mostly a Single Party Government focused on themselves and how to stay in power with their propaganda tools, the MDA and SPH.
Feels more like a fascist autocracy than a democratic society.
Refer to my paragraphs on religion about justice.
Operation Coldstore was a huge injustice.
Equality, well as the saying goes “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” – Animal Farm by George Orwell.
Happiness, we’re one of the most depressed countries in the world, not surprising considering the long work hours, the mind numbing conformity, the stress of being an over achiever for examinations, the desire for material wealth.
Prosperity, well I guess this part is right but we’re not able to get at any of the wealth, that’s the government’s money, not ours, Young Lee makes almost 2.2Million a year on our prosperous nation while elderly people unable to retire do back breaking work .
Progress, a joke right?
Male homosexuality is criminalized and we openly discriminate against them, especially in the Army during National Service.
A lot of our TV programmes take us back to the good old times of the 1960s, there was Growing up (to be fair they go through the decades but for the longest seasons they were 60s), then that one other show with the 3 adolescent kids, I’m sure I’ve seen a couple from Channel 8 too, alright look, I don’t watch TV anymore but when I did, I recall a few prominent shows about the 60s.
And even on youtube, I get bombared with commercials on SG50 about how good times were back in the 60s.
Singapore, for goodness sakes, it’s 2015, can you please stop obsessing with the 60s and trying to go back to the “kampong spirit”, just allow the people to have their own culture, goodness.
Capital Punishment, state mandated executions are still murder.
The human right to life is an inalienable right to all humans, it cannot be given nor can it be taken away. Capital punishment is torture, knowing when you’re going to die and waiting for that day being brainwashed to accept that fate for everyday until you’re lead to the gallows.
Capital punishment punishes those without the capital for good representation.
Corporal Punishment, imprisonment is punishment enough, in many parts of the world.
But here, convicts may have to deal with having their human dignity abused by being caned.
These are not hallmarks of progress.
And that is why I refuse to recite the pledge, it is so far detached from reality that I would have to lie to myself to believe in it.
“Men should pledge themselves to nothing; for reflection makes a liar of their resolution” – Sophocles