TL;DR – It’s also you. It’s also me.
Facebook user Ng Kwok Hua could almost be described as a storyteller. A quick comb-through of his Facebook profile shows that this is one Singaporean with seemingly varied interests, from heritage to local food.
In particular, what stands out is his penchant to strike up conversations with strangers. He’ll talk to the hawkers at food centres, and even chat with elderly aunties having breakfast at Tiong Bahru Market.
Ng and his wife had ventured out to a hawker centre in the east on National Day. They happened to share a table with another Singaporean couple who was there with the youngest of their three children.
So what’s the story?
About the couple,
“The couple are parallel importers of cars and they had put in tons of effort and time to build up the busines in the early days of the company. The Mum told us that for a complete year of 365 days, they only rested for an average of 5 days, and they were doing it for 20 over years till recent years when they decided to go into semi-retirement mode.
They hardly had time for anything else.
Still, they were singing praises of their lives and this country this morning when we met them.”
About the family,
“Still, they have 3 children, all grown up now and contributing to society.
All 3 siblings are very close to one another.”
About the eldest son,
“One of them (not in the picture) is an entrepreneur and he once thanked his mom for being very strict with him when he was young. He could have gone astray in his teenage years because he was mixing around with friends who encouraged him to smoke, shoplift and play traunt. Fortunately, unlike his peers, he did not just leave the house and slam the door behind him after the mum forbade him to join his friends.”
About the second son,
“The second child (not in the picture), and also the middle child, is a scholar. He has never got his mum and dad to pay for his school fees since his polytechnic and subsequent university days. The irony was that he failed his English Language during Secondary One and was channelled to the Normal Academic stream. He cried for weeks on end and tried to ask the mum to appeal to the Principal for leniency. The appeal failed and the son eventually took the setback as a wakeup call! He worked very hard for his remaining 4 years and was one of the top N Level students of his batch in Singapore.”
About the youngest daughter,
“The gal in the picture is their youngest daughter. She was the lady who got me interested in how on earth a young gal like her could be equally bilingual in the English and Chinese language. That was the conversation starter for us as we were complete strangers sharing a common dining table at the beginning. We heard the daughter speak impeccable English and Chinese while she was conversing with her parents. Her Dad was only comfortable with English while her Mum was Chinese-educated, as revealed subsequently. The daughter was really humble with her linguistic abilities and she said it was due to her genetic composition. Later on, I was to find out that the daughter is just as good in the Teochew dialect as well.”
What does Mr Ng think?
“To me, their family is a epitome of a typical Singaporean family whose fortunes have risen and ebbed with that of the nation’s. Like our young nation, this family and together with the thousands of families out there have tremendous fortitude and resilience. They never allowed setbacks to define them or distracted them from their dreams. They were always striving to achieve the next better level. Today, this couple are enjoying the fruits of their hard labour. Singapore is too flourishing in its Golden Age.”
What are Mr Ng’s National Day thoughts?
“On the occasion of our 54th Birthday, I sincerely wish for this fire in the belly in Singaporeans to continue burning. Don’t wish for things to be easy, and always strive to achieve the very best with much courage. Forget about comfort zones and instead strive for your dreams boldly.
Along the way, remember to celebrate your milestone successes and give back to the less fortunate in society.
With this, Singapore is guaranteed of another 100 years.
Majulah Singapura. Happy 54th Birthday, Singapore!”
This story gives me the feels. Mr Ng may be telling the couple’s story, but it’s also my story, my neighbour’s story, my friend’s story, your story.
Through the past 54 years, the Pioneer Generation and the Merdeka Generation that are our grandparents and parents put their blood, toil, tears and sweat into building the nation and the home that we have now. They worked so hard to bring us where we are now.
Most of them had really humble beginnings and worked really hard to provide us with better lives. I can see my folks’ stories in the couple’s lives.
As for the children, well, we all know someone who can fit into those stories, no?
Over this long National Day weekend as we bask in our nation’s 54th birthday celebrations, I hope we all remember the spirit that is Singapore. Like our forefathers, grandparents and parents, may we have fortitude and resilience and not allow setbacks to define us or distract us from our dreams.
Like what PM Lee had said in his National Day message, the economy is slowing down because of global uncertainties and there are also other serious challenges like trade wars and climate change.
But we have faced similar challenges in the past. Each time, we reinvented and renewed our economy, our people and our city. We can do this again if we stay united. Let’s continue to work together as one united people. Majulah Singapura!