Saturday, August 08, 2009

Not so jolly buccaneers

PM Lee's ND message comes in two parts: we have tough times ahead, though we have been weathering well so far; and it's been our ability to hang together as one crew that things haven't been as bad as they might have been.

Tough times and rough seas are nothing we can control. They happen and will continue to happen the way weather does. I'm a bit worried about our crew though, because there still exists a mutinous element that think they can handle our ship on their own without realizing that in order to survive our ship is getting bigger, and as such we need a big enough crew to man every post. There simply isn't enough of us to homegrow our own crew, so we have to take on crew from all ports of call, whomever believes in us and our adventures to lend us a hand.

The one thing we have to recognize is that we aren't a British battleship, with crew from scurvy deckswab to pantalooned Admiral all subjects of the Queen of England. We're a just little pirate ship looking to expand, and our crew comes from wherever, and whatever condition they come in.

"We did not start out as one people. Our forefathers were different peoples from different lands, who had come to Singapore to seek better lives for themselves and their children. But our formative years fighting for independence, then striving as a new nation to survive against the odds, brought us closer together. Each time we were challenged, we responded as one, everyone pulling together and working for the common good. And each success further cemented our cohesion, and helped us to meet the next challenge," says Cap'n Ah Loong. But some of our oldest and crustiest sailors on our decks are getting a tad resentful of the newcomers, and that's not really healthy for overall crew morale.

Among other things, they resent that many newcomers speaka no English. Odd that it's exactly the same complaint as that of the homegrown gripers on board the other bigger pirate ships, The US, Canada (well, maybe not so much) and Aussieland. It's even odder that I would say we only need to put in a little more effort to communicate rather than just give up and demand service in English at all cost. A little more patience and consideration from us will go a long way to encourage our newbie crew towards learning our tongue even as we strive to figure our theirs. That's the fun of living in a polyglot world, but many of our people simply don't have that kind of time to waste. Pity.

The other thing that this segment of homegrown crew have against the newbies is that the former feel somehow deprived of certain entitlements having to share the deck with the latter. Look at the comments that go with this Forum letter (trust me, the comments are way more interesting) to see how some people go all frothy at the mouth over this issue. But really, if we don't make the newbies feel welcome, they aren't likely to want to hang out with us for too long. They'll just take their share of the booty and bolt as fast as they can, and our recruitment problems will never abate. We resent them for coming, then we resent them for leaving. We're the unhappiest people on the Seven Seas.

Look. The asteroid has already hit us. The change in our climate is so drastic, so fundamental that our world has changed forever. We adapt and evolve with the times, and be small, nimble and omnivorous as our mammalian ancestors were; or be wiped out like the dinosaurs that couldn't accept the change. Or in local terms, the "true-blue" Singaporean is the one holding his breath until things go back to the way they were.

My birthday wish for my nation: Once and for all put aside our petty differences and prejudices, hoist the Jolly Roger, put the bow straight into the storm, and sally forth towards new adventures with a yo ho ho (and a hefty bottle of rum)!

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