Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Afterthought after Japanese Tsunami and Earthquake

The throng of expats rushing to leave Japan due to the nuclear incident comes as no surprise. Who isnt fearful of impending potential death?

I applaud my friend's decision to stay on in Japan despite the incident and assured us that things isnt as seemingly bad as it appeared where she is in Saitama. She remarked that it was more stressful to cope with the concerned well intended requests for her to head back to Singapore, than actually being in the midst of all the "action" in Japan.

Seeing the people wanting to leave, with people wailing in despair at the airport etc, it brings to mind one important thought. If Singapore was to face any major calamity, how many of the existing population of almost 5million people, consisting of estimated 36% foreigners will react to the situation? Assuming the 36% of foreigners will also rush to leave the small island, what is left is about 64% of local citizens and perm residents (which are again of foreign birth); out of which assuming 1/4 will choose to leave as well. We dont really have alot of people left remaining do we?

In the midst of calamity, will we also have our own version of 50 selfless self sacrificial heroes? Japan being a homogeneous populated country with a "samurai heritage" and where a common identity & culture is grounded upon, it is easily understandable their sense of patriotism to guard the well being of the rest of the nation. Singapore, a small island of many identities without a single identity to fall back on, can we count on the hope for our own "band of brothers" to depend on in the dire straits moments?

I remember a friends's husband use to hate going back to NSmen reservist because he thought it was an utter waste of time and pointless exercises. This was before all the debate of the sudden influx of mainlanders or Foreign Talent into Singapore. His reason was simply in the sign of first trouble, he would be fleeing the country. Why on earth should he be wasting his time on training to protect the country? So it leaves me pondering even more, how many more will stay to help the community if many thinks like him? How will the world react to Singaporeans fleeing their own soil instead of staying to defend or protect it?

While the expats leaving Japan are returning home without guilt or sense of betrayal, how will Singaporeans who say survive from running to a host country as a second class citizen- will feel if their own country was wiped out? Will there be a sense of sorrow? A sense of guilt? Or a tinge of loss and sadness? A sense of I could have done more perhaps?

I watched the Japanese news and it was interestingly that all the old folks are urging the younger families with kids esp, to head for safety while the older folks are willing to stay behind to aid the ailing old people in homes etc. I suppose they wish for the younger generation to survive the crisis and  pass on their Japanese heritage and culture.

However if Singapore is wiped out, what heritage and culture that is unique to us do we pass on? I couldnt think of any in particular that belongs to us. Speaking as a chinese, we have mainly lost our dialect "mother tongue", not to mention we even have a new Chinese generation struggling to speak and write mandarin. Whatever Chinese tradition remaining (I can barely think of anything more than a handful even) is even barely passed down from our parents no thanks to the hectic work schedule, heavy western influences and idolism, or the parents' upbringing of "dont do anything but study" due to the intensively pressuring rat-race/ paper chase.

Despite whatever people may think of the war crimes Japanese had committed back then, or the criticism about the eccentricity of Japanese culture or the protective nature of their country against foreigners,  the modern Japan has definitely shown the world a thing or two about their self-sacrificial values, unity and calmness of nation on the whole in face of adversity.

Ignorant people round the world who are rushing to snatch up salt or seaweed to "prolong" their lives, take a leaf from people of the rising sun, who has truly shown us the light to a enviable nation where the community come together as one in face of calamity. Even a Japanese dog has something to teach us about not leaving its companion behind...

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