Sunday, 9 August 2015

SG50: Here's why I love Singapore

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...

No, I'm not going to recite Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet in this post - but this is the first line that came to my mind as I started thinking about paying my tribute to Singapore on its 50th birthday (or SG50 if you want).

Today is undoubtedly a big day here in the red dot and as I'm writing this, I'm putting on my red and white attire and getting ready to brave the crowds and join in the celebrations all over the island.

But before I leave, I just wanted to say a few things, who knows maybe next year I won't be around here to say them.

How awesome is Google's page today celebrating SG50? It was drawn by an 8-year-old imagining the next 50 years. Love it!

A few months back and upon his passing, I wrote an honest tribute to Mr. Lee Kwan Yew which went viral on Yahoo! Singapore platform - simply because it was from an 'expat' (you can read it here). Some readers misunderstood it and others were offended by it (and didn't hold back in their comments)... but there were also those who seemed to get what I truly meant and perhaps appreciate it.

While I don't wish to repeat what I said back then, I would like to say one simple thing...

Thank you.

Thank you Singapore for taking me in, giving me opportunities and teaching me things that not even my own country or the whole Middle East could have. The sense of belonging you gave me, the kindness of your people to an extent that I don't even feel like a foreigner sometimes, fills my heart and inspires me everyday to be the best version of myself - just like you strive to be as a country.

I envy your people's commitment to progress and their coming together despite differences in opinion, race and religion. Sharing you peacefully and unselfishly is the wisest decision they make everyday and a testimony on how much they love you and respect what you stand for.

Safety, great food, cleanliness, Chinatown, Tekka Market, Haji Lane, the CBD, the Botanic Gardens... and most of all kind Singaporeans (who are always baffled by my hair) - are some but a few things I love about living here.

In 50 years, you have achieved things that other nations are still striving for despite their much longer histories and richer resources.

You don't need me to tell you this, but Singaporeans - you have the right to be extremely proud of your nation. While I will always be proud of some of the history of mine (yes, mainly far history), you can be proud of its past, present and bright future.

So, from the bottom of my heart - and in my mother-tongue, allow me to say I truly احبك سنغافورة.