The three H’s have been on everyone’s minds lately: Hope, Heart, Home. At this year’s National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong touched on matters and issues close to every Singaporean’s heart. We rejoiced at the prospect of things to come and felt pride at what young Singaporeans have achieved, things that would put Singapore on the map. More opportunities for education, for pre-schoolers to tertiary students, and changing policies on housing, family and healthcare are on the cards. As Singapore grows and develops and attracts folks from other nations, we were reminded to be gracious and generous, to be mindful of our places in our multi-cultural society. Our pace of life is frenetic, everyone in a rush to accomplish, achieve something. But all this is for naught if it is done at the expense of our friends, families, neighbours. What would we be if we didn’t have heart?
We are individuals but we also have a shared history – many experiences that we’ve had are not isolated ones. We’ve been wrung through the same system, played in the same playgrounds; squatted along similar drains learning how to brush our teeth; we all have the same BCG vaccination; felt the nerves of major examinations; sat on the same non-airconditioned buses; used tissue packets to chope seats at the hawker center; watched movies at the same theatres; served National Service together. Ultimately, it’s not our economic prowess, mega-structures or efficiency that makes us Singaporean, it’s the little things.
This sentiment was highlighted by Thelca Loh, who’d written a letter to the PM, saying,
“It’s the simple things I love about my country, like waking up on a Saturday morning, feeling the chill in the morning air, deciding to go downstairs to have a warm bowl of duck porridge instead of the usual cold cereal. Having freshly fried piping hot ‘you char kueh’ with ice cold soya milk on a whim.
Having an elderly lady in a wheel chair pull up beside me, mistaking me as one of her ‘kopi kakis’ and discussing the weather with me in Hokkien. Watching the Indonesian maid speak fluent Hokkien to her elderly wheelchair bound employer, and showing genuine concern and care for the old lady. Reminding me of my grandmother and her Indonesian helper whom I truly grateful for, for helping to take care the needs of my grandmother in her last years.’’
The idea of home is not an intangible one—it is one that is often linked to a place, “a house where you grow up, a family you grew up with, the times when you were young.” PM Lee shared a photo he’d found only recently, one taken in his family home at Oxley Road with his parents, siblings and even the family dog. The feeling of home and belonging is one that takes time to grow, and “over the years, more links form, more memories accumulate.”
PM Lee weighed in on the ever-changing landscape in Singapore drawing from his own personal memories. He recalled when Orchard Central used to be Orchard Road car park, which boasted the best hawker food in Singapore; the now-sprawling Singapore Management University which was once the empty school field of Saint Joseph’s Institution; the now-polished Nanyang Primary School, which once housed Nanyang kindergarten (and only had one piano to boot); and when Marina Bay Sands was Collyer Quay— “it wasn’t even land, it was sea!” – these changes (and the speed at which they change) are all too familiar to Singaporeans.
PM Lee points out “all of us have our own memories and stories to tell”. He recounted the stories and memories of many Singaporeans because each of them, each of us, has a place in the Singapore Story. And their stories resonate with us; we identify because we are Singaporean. It doesn’t matter which part of the story we are at, what’s important is that we are all a part of it. The Singapore Memory Project is part of the story, it is more than a place where you can store your memories, it’s one where you can share your memories not just with your friends and family, but with other Singaporeans. In doing so, we hope that Singaporeans will be able to feel a sense of home and a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.
Singapore is changing, and we can’t stop moving forward in order to ensure our hope for the future but we can anchor ourselves to our country, our national identity through the things that we remember. As PM Lee succinctly sums up
“[Our] memories come together to define the Singapore Story for all of us. Individually, these are our life experiences collectively these bind together to become the soul of the nation. We must cherish them and build upon them. In our shared future, the world may be completely different, our lives may be quite transformed but our drive to keep the Singapore story vital and fresh for all of us must never falter. Let’s work together to create a better Singapore, where we look to our shared future with confidence and hope, where we treat one another and others too with a big heart where we build for our children and grandchildren our best home.”
What are the things you love about Singapore? What is it about this country that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling? When you visit new places, new buildings, establishments, malls – do you remember what it used to be like? What stories do you and your friends share every time you meet? What does being Singaporean mean to you? Share your stories, your experiences, your memories with us at the Singapore Memory Portal—you are part of the Singapore story. Find us on FaceBook or follow us on Twitter!
Singapore Memory Project