Fellow Singaporeans, wake up your idea!

We love to bitch about them, don’t we?

2 March 2012, 1530 hours. My anxiety level was approaching infinity. Best friend collected her slip and walked away. With my handphone squeezed between my head and left shoulder, I tried to converse with my cousin while manoeuvering my right hand, without dropping anything.

From behind, best friend shouted: “5 As!” From the handset, I heard cousin say: “5 As! How about you?”

I stared at the piece of paper that would determine my future. “3 As, 1 B for my H2s. GP, C. Cannot get scholarship!” My crutches wobbled as I burst into a flood of tears.

Hours later, at my house, cousin and I were feasting on Maggi mee when he hugged me. Then it was his turn to cry. “Monday must book in!”

Cousin has epilepsy and ADHD. He lives with my parents because his abused him. Although a clerk, he enthusiastically contributes to the defence of Singapore, volunteering to handle the most intellectually challenging tasks.

Unfortunately, several ITE gangsters from his unit know the causes of his fits and have made a sadistic game out of triggering them. According to him, if he is discharged, NUS would not accept him, so what can he do, except do his best to put up with the bullying?

I finally found a part-time job, but first found out that most employers would not consider a girl who cannot walk without crutches, even for jobs that are more intellectual than physical. They fail to look beyond my disabilities and hence do not see my abilities. Losing jobs to foreigners? No, I am losing jobs to less qualified, less capable, but physically fit, fellow Singaporeans!

Treated as an alien by fellow Singaporean colleagues, I mix mainly with a few foreigners, who are also shunned by our Singaporean colleagues. These foreigners are generally more accepting towards me, capable and hardworking. Most bonuses and rewards go to them (and me, the best performing Singaporean, repaying boss for giving me a chance).

How do many Singaporeans react to being outdone by other Singaporeans and even foreigners? By complaining about elitism, while refusing to acknowledge and address their own flaws. By blaming the government and expecting the impossible. By hating the foreigners, often to the extent of racism.

Ironically, many Singaporeans refuse to support local football or movies, preferring the English Premier League and Hollywood blockbusters. Why? The local offerings are of a low standard.

Fellow Singaporeans, if you are not hired because you are not good enough, buck up! Unlike me, you can walk. Unlike cousin, you do not have frequent fits. Nobody owes you a living and nobody owes me a living either. Without a scholarship to pay my university expenses, my parents would collapse under the mountain of my hefty medical bills.

But I am willing and able to work to pay off everything. Cousin and I have learnt to live with our disabilities and conquer the endless challenges thrown at us. Like best friend, a foreign student who could barely speak English when she came here. She studied ten hours per day for years and her effort paid off.

Stop telling me to stop looking down on ITE students. I refuse to associate with neighbours and secondary schoolmates who went to ITE. They call me names, pelt me with small objects, even steal my crutches and money. Never did I face such bullying on a JC campus. Thanks, JC friends, for accepting and supporting me throughout my JC years, the best period of my life.

Stop asking cousin to consider donating to local ADHD and epilepsy charities. He refuses to associate with such associations, for they have forsaken him. A few years ago, he was referred to one of the organisations for therapy, but they only had services for children and the most severe cases. Why should he donate to these groups?

Complaining does not solve problems. Complaints that are illogical, with no substance, create problems. If you want to denounce our government, unless you have a pass in A Level Economics and have valid arguments with supporting evidence, shut up. If you want higher salaries and lower prices without increasing your productivity, stop dreaming. If you think running a country is easy, try running a country.

When a foreigner is featured on STOMP for inconsiderate behaviour on public transport, most replies are vitriol against foreigners, unrelated to the inconsiderate behaviour. That is racism. When TRE  published an article about prejudice against autistic Singaporeans, most comments focus on government policies. Hardly any were about how Singaporeans treat fellow Singaporeans with physical disabilities or special needs.

Everyone has the right to form and air opinions, but please use this right wisely. There are government policies that I disagree with. There are legitimate concerns, such as foreign service staff who cannot speak English and male Singaporeans being disadvantaged by reservist training. Rational discussion about these issues is most welcome.

In addition, consider the good that our government and the foreigners have done. Most importantly, take responsibility and play your part. I face a future of uncertainty but will continue preparing for my dream career. To the hardworking fellow Singaporeans out there, especially those who have physical disabilities or special needs, I sincerely wish you all the best.

The writer has a severe physical disability and just graduated from a top junior college. She wishes that Singaporeans would be more hardworking, as well as more accepting towards people with physical disabilities and special needs. She does not wish to disclose additional details about herself or her cousin.

Link : http://newnation.sg/2012/03/fellow-singaporeans-wake-up-your-idea/

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