Qian Xuesen, the Chinese nuclear scientist educated in MIT and a co founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Caltech, returned to China in 1955 after being detained at Terminal Island in California for 5 years. On his return to his motherland, he was instrumental in the setting up of China’s missile and space programme. He is being honoured as the Father of Chinese Rocketry and the rest is history. China’s progress in space and nuclear technology owed a lot to scientists like Qian and many others educated in the West. They returned home to serve their motherland, exchanging a life of luxury in the West for something where luxury is a rarity.
Many Chinese professors and scholars have gone home to serve their country for anything but money. The emotional attachment and love of the motherland are beyond comprehension. Not to Singaporeans anyway. Singaporeans only understand money. The motherland concept is something intangible, cannot be bought by money, and with intelligent and patriotic people willingly making great personal sacrifices just to serve their country and people.
It may be idealistic, it may sound stupid, it may sound unrealistic, but the power of the motherland is not something to be trifled with. Countries that have developed such values and virtues like patriotism, nationalism, will triumph in adversity, by the sheer loyalty, commitment and dedication of its own people that believe in the motherland.
In Singapore, what kind of values are we teaching the people, to bind the people to this land which rightfully is their motherland? What we are seeing today is the pride of a materialistic people that believe only in money and nothing else. And half a century of nation building is being rubbished, that we conveniently called this island a hotel, a city state, not a country. And we keep dismissing the citizens in favour of alien foreigners for their perceived talents. We buy talents, we bribe talents, we beg talents, hoping that they will be here to contribute to our economic growth and well being. When things are fine, when the sky is clear, they will be here.
When the weather turns foul, will these talents stay and strive with the people in times of adversity? Many would not even want to serve in NS. Would our own elite, the self proclaimed great sacrifices they made to serve the country, also stay and struggle side by side with the people when there is a national crisis?
Or would all of them reveal themselves as just fair weather friends, and would scoot the moment things turn bad? What is there to hold them back when the draw for them to be here is money, while everything else is an aspiration? Would they bother to double think, that this is their motherland, to fight and to die for? Do the elite bat an eyelid if this city state is lost for whatever reasons, sold or snatch away by anyone?
Would those who are here stay and fight? Would those overseas come running home to help to defend this city state like defending their home, their motherland? The Chinese will return to fight for their motherland, the Indians will return to fight for their motherland, the Jews around the world will return to defend their motherland, not for money but because it is their motherland.
Would Singaporeans do likewise, driven by the cause of their country, their motherland, to come home to stand side by side with their fellow citizens? Unfortunately, no Singaporean is calling this island their motherland. The word motherland is alien to Singaporeans. More are familiar with the word hotel. In a crisis, the reverse is likely to happen, with everyone for himself, running away as fast as they could from this island, which was never seen as their motherland.
Bring in the foreign talents, bring them in. Pay them, bribe them, just bring them in to share the good fortune of this island hotel. It is not a motherland to anyone, not to Singaporeans, not to any foreigners. Just a hotel of convenience.