In the 1950s we were still not a country or a nation. We were a colony of the British Empire. After the war, the people were getting more politicised and aware that the British were colonial masters and running this island for their own interests. The interests of the people were secondary. The British only think of the purse of the king or queen in England. A few elites started thinking that they could run this island better, for the people who were making this place their home.
A simple thought of taking control of the country and to decide their own future became the seed of fermentation and the struggle for independence. The people wanted to determine their own future and not be led by the colonialists with their own agenda. They wanted a better distribution of the wealth of the island by seizing political power.
The few good men did what they needed to do. They agitated the people to stand up and fight for their own future. The otherwise stateless and docile people, the workers, were politicised. They could see a better future if they were willing to fight and risk their lives. The people were awakened to the possibilities, to be their own masters and not the servants. Those days they used to end their letters with the phrase, ‘Your obedient servant.’
The servant mentality was removed. They were unshackled. And they fought for what we have today. They continued to slog after independence to build a fairer and more equitable society for themselves and their children.
The course of our history would have been different if they have been cowed, frightened, kiasu and kiasi. The course of history would have been different if they have been apathetic, kia cheng hu, and remained docile and obedient to the power of the day.
They took their future into their own hands, to shape it the way they wanted it to be. The people decided what was best for them. Without their courage to confront the colonial govt, to fight for their own good, we would not be what we are today. We only have to thank them for standing up, to face the selfishness of the colonial govt, to say, ‘give me back my island.’ We would decide what was best for us.
History always have great moments like this, when being compliant, being docile, being obedient, being afraid, were not an option. The generations of the 50s gave us this country. As our inheritance, it is tragic to lose this country by default and sheer negligence on our part. It will be a great tragedy and an unfilial act to our forefathers, our benefactors, who fought for a country for us and our children. They were migrants to a non country. They gave us a country we can call home. We are no longer migrants and stateless.
The descendants and beneficiaries of the sacrifices of our nation builders have a duty and responsibility to protect this little island they inherited. It must not be given away freely to anyone on any flimsy excuses. If we lose this inheritance through inaction, the tragic shame will be on every Singaporean.