Man’s ingratitude

Blow, blow, thou winter wind
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As a friend remembered not.

These were some of the earliest Shakespearean lines I learned at school, oh so many years ago.

They kept coming back to mind when viewing and reviewing events of the couple of days leading up to the so-called 5,000-strong protest at Hong Lim Park. And what took place on Feb 16.

For goodness sake, with him at 89 years old and  said to be too unwell to attend his constituency’s lo-hei dinner; with the goodwill of Chinese New Year still very much in the air, I wonder where’s the decency of those who colic-d at Hong Lim Park the evening after news of his inability to show up? Worse, to exploit young cute kids, to get them to carry placards! How lxx can you go? And I don’t mean Thia Khiang who like all House members stayed away. Thank goodness for their dignity, compassion and graciousness.

Don’t get me wrong. I may be madder with the PAP G than even some of those who made hue n cry at last Saturday’s protest.

Grouse Number 1 for me is their COE policy that has raised the COE for a new basic car to 100+% of the price of what I would have had to pay 30 months ago for a car + COE.

But I got a bigger grouse with myself. I had failed to read the news closely regarding pending drying up of COE numbers and so hadn’t bid aggressively enough (via the car agent lah!). I now have to drive with the consequences of my misreading — an almost 7-year old car 😥

Grouse Number 2 for me is the uneven playing field they have created for HDB owners and private property owners. Why allow HDB owners to buy private and still hold on to their HDB homes when private are now banned from venturing into the HDB ressale market?

Yet again, I got a bigger grouse with myself. When the rules were relaxed some 10+ years ago, family members and I did go sniffing around HDB estates. But we always came away with more minus than plus points and our search for that perfect HDB resale unit was never ending. Somehow, nothing grabbed our hearts or purses!

Not so an acquaintance who came back to live in SG after a life-time in Europe — just after the HDB resale market was liberalised. Without any home in SG, she heard from me about the joys of a Marine Parade 3-room flat, owned by a dear friend of mine. I extolled the great sea-view and the greater renovation. No, this friend wasn’t  selling. I was using her home as a conversational piece.

Imagine my surprise when within a week, the acquaintaince called to say that she had settled for a unit in the same block where my friend is, on the same floor but in a different wing. A corner unit for the grandtotal sum of $270,000! Could I introduce her to my friend as she would like to use the same contractor and designer that my friend used when she took possession of the flat??

I was taken aback by her super quick action and wondered whether this acquaintance hadn’t been too hasty and hadn’t thought through her options etc

Given where the property market has gone since then, she certainly didn’t buy in haste and now lives to enjoy at leisure 😆

So, yes, while I’m mad with the G for it’s unfair treatment of private property owners, I really only have myself to blame for not rushing into the window of opportunity but instead dithered irresolutely.

And yes, I’m also unhappy about the population White Paper but not over the potential or “worst case scenario” of 6.9 million residents. In fact, I’ve no problem with even more people, because in any contest, won’t it be better to have 10 million Singaporeans marching strong, than 10,000 Singaporeans?

What makes me apprehensive is the mad dash to build homes and infrastructure. Besides the mess, the inconvenience, the perpetual disruption to vehicular traffic and thereby negating much of road improvements, think of the inflation explosion which this mad rush to build, build and build will cause. See here. Might make what the COE prices have done to my savings look like a minor blip in the continuum!

And of course where public transport connectivity is concerned, our G gets a major F from me, when i compare it to Hongkong!

Yet despite all this anger, would I like the PAP G a lot better or be less angry with it, if it allows wild cat strikes as the new normal? So instead of being hopping mad with buses that don’t come or come in convoys, would I be happier if there aren’t any buses or taxis to be had for love or money — say for 24 hours? Ditto, instead of super crowded trains or breakdowns, we get regular walk outs of drivers and there isn’t any MRT, crowded or otherwise, every few months?

It’s been a life-time since we didn’t have radio or TV when we tuned in. Would we feel more liberated, if like the BBC, Mediacorp’s crew now and then down tools to protest their rights? And of cos, if the Straits Times staff now go on strike like they did in 1971, it’s more their funeral than the readers, given the vast array of alternative sources of news and information 😉

Frankly, now that most countries in our neighbourhood or farther afield have taps, telephones and all other modern cons that work, there isn’t much that truly distinguishes Singapore from the rest.

Mayb it’s time that we went back to the time where nothing worked so that we can stand out distinct, unique, poor and a harbinger of what could await those who aren’t grateful for what they have inherited?

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