Happy 54th birthday, Singapore!

Happy happy National Day, all my Singaporean friends! ๐ŸŽ‚๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌโœจ

It’s weird how frequently I’ve thought of you, Singapore, in the day-to-day of my job. Like when the White House published a memo attacking China’s developing country status in the WTO and the first thing my eyes were glued onto in the text (read here) was Singapore. Or when it was LGBTQ Pride Month and we were looking for stills from different countries – Pink Dot’s Repeal 377A eventually made it onto the show, a brief glimpse, just for a second or two. ๐Ÿ’—ย Or when my boss tells me about his sons studying “Singapore Math,” which seriously cracks me up (it’s actually a thing in the U.S.).

Also, when you’re 54, I’m 21. This means I’m finally choosing between the dual nationalities which I’ve held for most of my life. (I was born in an Auckland hospital and got onto my first plane ride as a month-old tiny baby to Singapore.) But actually, the choice was made long ago. When I think of home, you are the first place that comes to mind. In a few days, I’ll be back on the island and will be officially taking my oath to be Singaporean only โ€” for that, I’m grateful. Somehow, I’ve found you by choice instead of by birth or by heritage, and that makes our ties all the more precious and alive.

I was watching PM Lee’s NDP message on The Straits Times website today at work and he felt almost fatherly. I was enraptured by that familiarity — his inflections, mannerisms, the earnestness of SG politicians (of a technocrat breed), and inklings of the nanny state that really does seek to take care of you (I cannot imagine any U.S. politician genuinely saying, “Each one of us must strive to improve ourselves, do our best, and chase our dreams.”).

And, although you’re not perfect, you’re still mine. Somehow, being elsewhere around the world only makes me think of you โ€” your ingenuity and almost strait-laced wholesomeness, your efficiency and embeddedness in a global nexus, and also your singlets and slippers, hawker centre uncles and aunties, lahs, humid heat, and all that fills my heart with a fierce fondness across the Pacific that can only be called love.

Happy 54th birthday, dear Singapore โค๏ธ

Lots of love,

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6 thoughts on “Happy 54th birthday, Singapore!

  1. SingCity says:

    given the stuff you have written, you should quickly get away from singapore because someone like you will be better suited pursuing other things in america in the longer run! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

  2. faith says:

    hello fellow singaporean! reading this post after watching the entirety of the national day celebrations, i wonder if you still remember the parade? your writings and reflections are a very interesting and inspiring look into the life of a singaporean halfway across the globe. still every word you say resonates with that of someone wearing white and red; eyes glued to the red fireworks, the tanks and fighter jets, the hundreds of primary school students in a myriad of colours. im also a dual citizen, but of singapore and usa (though also bundled on the plane home at 1 month old), i wonder if your choice would have been any different if it had been america?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sel says:

      hi faith, thank you so much for commenting! who knows what choices we might have made in alternate lives or parallel universes? itโ€™s always hard to speculate. all i know is that in this life i grew up in SG and call this place home : )


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