Friday, October 9, 2015

Cities: Skyline, Why you so realistic?

CALL ME MAYOR: Look, mum, I actually managed a city with more than 10,000 inhabitants!

I'm a huge fan of simulation games, especially those on building cities. A big fan, but not exactly good at it. I still remember trying out my first Sim City game, Sim City 2000, and failing so badly at it. Mostly because I could not get my income right and there were loads of disasters. But still I love the game. Seeing the city grow and buildings evolving, it feels very fulfilling.

So naturally, when Cities: Skyline went on sale, I bought it. I never bothered with the Sim City series anymore considering all the bad press it got and I vowed to never support EA again after Origins, so my last Sim City game was Sim City 4 Deluxe. If you don't know, most of the comments for Cities: Skyline are overwhelmingly positive, praising it for doing everything right where Sim City failed.

Those positive comments were another contributing factor to why I bought the game too.

At first, the game felt awesome. The graphics and animation looked beautiful. The basics were easy to pick up after a few tries and soon my city was growing at a steady rate. I had a good feeling about the city. Perhaps I could finally reach the elusive metropolis dream that I have always wanted.

13 hours into the game and 19,000 citizens in, I am starting to realise how realistic the game could get. Problems that plague cities like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok were beginning to crop up in my city. Traffic jams are happening more frequently and increasingly my citizens were getting annoyed. I found out that despite having a six-lane highway, cars will still get stuck if there are too many traffic lights. It's not about how many lanes you have for cars, but whether the vehicles need to stop frequently.

I soon learned that planning a city does not just involve zoning haphazardly and building parks whenever you want to make citizens happy, but you must also plan ahead and anticipate problems before they occur. If you are going to put a road connecting the workplaces and residential areas, you must begin to think of ways how you can transport people efficiently. Public transport routes, roads layout and traffic flow are top of your worries.

Eventually, I gave up. Some of my roads are so embedded that to modify them would involve me demolishing a significant portion of my city where all the businesses are. It simply involves just too much work. Kinda explains why cities like KL could never get the transport system right no matter what they try. And it's scary how accurate the game reflected real life situations. Yet they still say we cannot learn from games.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that like Chee Eng, I have actually began to look at how Singapore plans its transport system to get inspiration. I guess you never appreciate how some things are in life until you actually try it. LTA and URA is really no play play job.

Monday, September 28, 2015


"What is the exceptional value that your work can add to the world?" he asked, his tone emphasising the word exceptional. I looked at him, unsure of what to answer. Sensing that I was not going to reply, he continued his speech.

"Because if you're just gonna be average, you're not going to stand out. If you're just going to be average — either by choice or fate — your work will be drowned out in the multitude of other average voices just like you: all wanting to be the special one, all wanting to be noticed."

He does have a valid point. With the dawn of the internet, it has become easier for people to showcase their work, to reach out to a new audience without going through the conventional way. And that has resulted in countless of people on the internet trying to get their work noticed. Singing, acting, cooking, programming and even eating. Everyone is trying to outdo everyone else.

Unless you're exceptional, it's pretty easy to be swept away by the tide. And that is the reality. It's not a wonder why some resort to pretty bizarre stuff just to get noticed.

I looked at him again, thoughts running wild in my head. What's the point of all doing all this then, if at the end of the day you don't get any returns, other than the sake of enjoying what you're doing? Merely loving what you do cannot pay the bills. It doesn't feed hungry mouths. How can some do what they love and yet earn so much at the same time?

He seemed to read my thoughts. "Life is unfair, my dear boy. The lucky ones, well, they can do what they love, get recognised and make tons of money out of it. The majority of us have to lead two different lives in a way. One where we work our assess off to ensure that we don't die of starvation, the other where we do what we love so that we don't die of insanity."

Double lives, huh. That's an interesting way to look at things. And that was exactly what I was feeling. Two lives. One to sustain the other. The other to keep the one going.

"Wouldn't life be good if we can just do whatever we want and not having to worry about surviving?" I mused aloud.

He smiled at me. "We would have world peace already if we could figure out how to do that."

Indeed, we would.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


He always wants to write but he always fails to write. What he never fails to do, however, is to complain about how he always fails to write. If only he could beat his the hell out of his procrastination. Which on second thought may not be an easy task, because judging from how difficult it is for him to usually get started on work, his procrastination may very well be a 10-storey high monster. Which means he has to enlist the help of either Ultraman or Power Rangers.

Or Gundam, which sounds and looks way much cooler. Writing in third person, is also surprisingly cool too. Though not anywhere near the Gundam. Him piloting the big ass robot, now that's epic.

What is this post trying to say anyway? It could be a post disguised as an advertorial for Gundam, or it could be a post that is supposed to make you think that it is an advertorial in disguise. That you have to figure out yourself.

And this blog has just taken a complete LSD random turn.

Friday, September 25, 2015


Questions I find myself asking every haze season and I am too lazy to find answers to:

1. Who exactly is at fault here? Individual farmers who don't know any better or big corporations who care only about profit?

2. What exactly is going on in the minds of the people who engage in all these open burning? Do they have any idea what impact their actions may have? Don't they have access to TV or newspapers where they can see the effect of their actions?

3. And if they're aware of the effects of their actions, why do they still do it?

4. What can poor people like me do to help with this issue than just literally suck it up?

5. Why isn't there a bigger emphasis on dealing with this issue, given how it is the only thing that so visibly affects all of us? We only occasionally hear about fines, but why isn't there any large scale effort (reeducation for example) mobilised?

6. Speaking of which, can we invent a giant fan to blow all the smoke to Jakarta so Indonesian ministers who say we should thank them for the fresh air, get a taste of their own medicine?

7. Why information about the root cause of the burning: Why it happens, how it happens, steps taken to combat the situation — seem so hazy? Other than the PSI readings update, there has been little to no announcement of what is going on in Indonesia. Whether investigations are ongoing, is there any surveillance, etc.

8. How long more must we endure this? Not just in the next few days, but how many more years must we sit through this "annual" haze season?

And last but not least:

With so much burning going on every year, don't they ever run out of things to burn? 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Your articles don't sell.

What do you mean, they don't sell?

Well, just take a look at them. You put them up for display, hoping to catch the eye of the people who pass by, which sometimes they do, but they just don't sell. Those who do take a look at your articles don't get excited by them. They take a look, maybe a glance or two at most, and then they chuck it aside.

I don't understand.

You see, my boy, in today's world where everyone is trying to make their mark, virality is important. To make an impact in this world, you gotta say or do something that when people see/hear/interact with it, they would want to share it with their friends. You gotta have something that makes people identify with, something that prompts an action in them. But right now, your articles just seem to be missing just that.

Does that mean my points are not valid then? Or what I have to say doesn't matter?

Well, that's a tricky question to answer. At the end of the day, what matters most to you? Is doing what you love more important, or is the attention that you're getting from what you're doing matters more? Everyone of us has a point to make. The only issue is whether our point resonates with others.

But what's the point of writing then? If what I am doing does not get noticed? Isn't it no different that just shouting into an empty room and hearing my own echo?

Look, like I said, you need to be sure of the reason behind why you're doing this. Van Gogh had no recognition when he was alive. Nikola Tesla was in the same situation too. But they kept doing what they were doing, even if it meant more pain and suffering for them. Even if it meant until their death, no one noticed them. Why? Because they saw value in what they were doing. Because they believed in their work. Because it was their passion. And that passion made all the difference.

Are you saying that only after I'm gone will people start noticing me?

I am not saying that what you do will definitely have value when you die. No. God knows how many more out there who keep trying until their last breathe and never receive any recognition after that. My point is that you need to get your motivations right. You need to know why you are doing what you're doing. If attention is all that you seek, then go down the popular path. Do as how others would do. Is that what you're looking for?

No. I don't know. I am not sure. It's just that I want to have my own voice and yet at the same time I want all the perks that come with it. I think I am greedy like that.

Yes, to a certain extent you are. Perhaps it's good not to compare. And it's best if you focus first on your interest while everything else should be secondary. If it gains traction then it will gain traction. If not, well, it depends on how much you love what you're doing and whether your love for what you're doing is enough to be your primary motivator. That you don't need people to buy in to continue what you're doing. It's definitely not an easy path, but like I said, what are your priorities?

Hmm. I think I am beginning to understand what you're trying to say. I think along the way I may have been distracted by the numbers and attention, perhaps even too concerned over them. I started writing as an avenue to vent, and if it catches fire, then good. Those should be added benefits, not the primary motivator. Thank you for helping me see a little clearer. I know now what I should do.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I see you've got your life figured out, all ready to rock. You got great friends, go to great parties and travel the world frequently. I've seen your work get published, shared and quoted by many. You're like the epitome of success, without an ounce of worry, as your to life's path is like a straight road to success. Because you've got everything figured out.

I'm not like you, sadly. I've still got debts to pay, bills to clear. Every day I spend wondering: How will tomorrow be? How will my life turn out to be? Will I be able to make my mark in the world, or will my life be just like a passing breeze? One that ruffles the tree leaves but not big enough to make any changes, easily forgotten once it pass?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Speculating on the silent majority and the opposition's way forward

PM Lee lifted by supporters after the results announcement

GE2015's results caught a lot of us by surprise. That itself is not surprising, because if anecdotal evidence, social media postings and attendance at rallies are to be trusted, the opposition parties seemed to have a lot going for them from the start. But if we are to learn anything from this GE, it's that social media sentiments, rallies attendance and anecdotal evidence are never reflective of real ground sentiments.

Many reasons were given to explain this "swing" of votes back to the PAP. The Lee Kuan Yew and SG50 effect were two of the feel-good reasons given. The town council issue and fear of the bigger world were two others. Some even went as far to suggest that new citizens are solely responsible for the swing in votes, according to a WhatsApp message that has been circulating around (which is pure hogwash, because the numbers did not take into account the 130,000+ Tanjong Pagar voters and uses a wrong basis of comparison, which is the number of babies instead of number of voters turned 21).

The truth is, we can never know what caused this swing back to the PAP. This group of people who reversed the trend, whom some have called the silent majority, are called silent for a reason. You never hear them speak online or see them online (because silence is harder to track than an opinion expressed online), and yet their actions are profound. We saw them during the LKY memorial and we are seeing them again this GE2015. They voted for PAP with a resounding yes, despite everything that pointed otherwise in the initial campaigning period.

the queue earlier this year to pay respects for LKY

However, that's where I suspect the similarity would end. The silent majority could have voted the PAP back in for numerous reasons, and perhaps a combination of those reasons. It could be the LKY or SG50 effect (although I suspect that voters themselves are not that simple-minded), the fear of a freak election result, not seeing the opposition as a viable alternative (some friends of mine questioned the feasibility of some opposition manifestos, for example) or simply because they had fresh faith in the PAP.

We can speculate all we want, but unless we can track down all these silent majority voters and ask them, we can never know. Which I think the whole exercise is pointless in the first place. We don't even know the profile of this silent majority, which is important to help us understand the reasons. Are they mostly old voters (which then could be due to LKY effect or the Pioneer packages) or educated voters (which can be alluded to deeper factors such as manifestos)? Civil or private service? Are they from diverse backgrounds (which could point to reasons resonating on a national level)?

The thing is, we can never know. Unless the votes are not secret, of course. Looking at the results, two things stood out to me.

One: Despite the seemingly high profile of some of the opposition candidates, despite their high calibre, voters have rejected all of them. Rising stars like Daniel Goh, He Ting Ru from the Workers' Party; Paul Tambyah from SDP and Benjamin Pwee from DPP; and veterans like Dr Chee Soon Juan were all soundly defeated.

It seems to suggest that there's a bigger issue at play here and that the candidates' profiles on their own are not a good enough pull. Perhaps the voters find it hard to agree with the party's manifestos, despite the candidates profiles. Perhaps the voters simply don't see a difference with these opposition candidates being "parachuted" in as compared to what the PAP is doing. In fact, the PAP seemed to have changed their tactics in some constituency as well, going with longtime grassroots leaders like Cheryl Chan in Fengshan, which ultimately worked in their favour.

The second thing that stood up for me is how a strategy of dissatisfaction no longer works for the Singapore electorate. Numerous parties sprung up in this GE, perhaps hoping to capitalise on the perceived dissatisfaction that had carried forward from GE2011. Perhaps these parties thought that as long as they're opposing the government, voters would give them the vote. This can be seen in a lot of the parties' strategy in campaigning: Vote for us if you hate the PAP. Kenneth Jeyaretnam's now famous speech on asking voters not to complain after this GE seem to be the best indicator of this mentality.

the now famous post GE results speech

However, the unfortunate fact is that this is not GE2011. The opposition thought that Singaporeans would cast a vote for them merely on the basis of protest — which may explain why many are jumping on the election bandwagon — they were sorely mistaken. GE2015 seem to be sending the message that the opposition needs to up their game, and unless they are seen to be better alternative (with better policies suggestions and credible figures), voters are not going to give them the mandate. Unless voters are extremely dissatisfied with the current government, but this should never be the main strategy in the long run.

The stars may have been in PAP's favour this GE2015, and it may take another five years for the next GE, but I think that this GE could very well be a blessing in disguise for the opposition. It certainly sent the message that majority of Singaporeans do not want an opposition for the sake of an opposition. This GE has demonstrated that for a significant amount of Singaporeans, if they cannot have a strong opposition, they would rather have none.

In closing, is a good learning opportunity for the various opposition parties and come GE2020 or GE2019, I hope the opposition will return stronger and more prepared. This GE is a good lesson that nothing can be taken for granted, for both sides of the fence. And unlike many people out there, I don't think Singaporeans are that daft to be "hoodwinked" by the PAP. I think everyone made a choice on what they thought best at the moment, and right at this moment, PAP seemed to be the best out of all the choices.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Thoughts on Singapore's GE2015

I have been following the developments of Singapore's GE2015 campaigns very closely. One, because it's part of my job working at a socio-political website, and two, because I find politics interesting and intriguing. It allows one to observe how human decisions are made en masse and because politics does affect our life, whether you like it or not.

Another reason why is because the issue of foreigners has been blown up quite strongly during this election. You have parties who declare that "foreigners are snatching job from Singaporeans" during their rallies, followed by equally passionate calls to "kick them out". Naturally, as one of the "foreigners" who is already the bogeyman for a lot of problems in Singapore, I am worried. The outcome of GE2015 will undoubtedly affect me, whether I have a say in this or not.

Of course, by declaring that I am a foreigner, I realised that I have effectively nullified any rights of me commenting about this election. After all, I have not been through the "system", not moulded by the "culture". I've not done NS and that fact itself is already more than enough to earn me looks of disdain from a lot of Singaporean males. But I needed to qualify this first before writing this post, lest someone decides to "CSI" me.

If you're a Singaporean who hates foreigners like me, who thinks that I am here to snatch your jobs (which I can sincerely tell you that I don't have that kind of intention), I would suggest you stop reading now. Because what I am going to do here is to give my honest thoughts on my observations on Singapore's GE2015 and to a larger extent, Singapore's social and political discourse, which I have been closely following. 

Once you have already have this negative image of me in your mind, I suspect that no matter what I say, it will probably be viewed non-favourably. So to save everyone's time, it's best to stop reading now. For those of you who don't mind, please continue reading (my previous managing editor will most probably kill me for the long preamble).

One thing that I've noticed in this election is that a majority of Singaporeans are unhappy, angry even, over a lot of things. People are angry over the state of the transport; the rising cost of living and income disparity; elitism and the disconnect between those in power and those who are not. They claim that the government is not listening and arrogant. To top it all off, to some Singaporeans, foreigners seemed to have become the bogeyman as well. 

The opposition have done a great job at capitalising this anger and unhappiness so far. You don't have to look far beyond the crowds in the rally. Based on what I am hearing from friends and people around me, a lot of them are unsupportive of the current government. And they are planning to use this election to "punish" the government, to voice their displeasure. The government needs to be taught a lesson, as how some put it.

While there are those who argue that the crowds and social media voice should never be the indicator of the real ground sentiment, I have a strong feeling that it is not very far off.

Truth to be told, the PAP is not perfect. As they say, staying in power for too long is never beneficial. It has the risk of corrupting you, of giving you this false sense of invulnerability. And I do admit that the PAP can improve in a lot of areas. Transparency for example, explaining the rationale behind their actions and policies, and accountability as well. Voters today are no longer like voters of yesterday, where they trust you to carry out your mandate to the best of your ability. They want to be convinced, they want you to persuade them. The message could not be repeated enough: The days where government knows best is over. 

Singaporeans want to know why the government choose to go down certain path, make certain decisions. It may take a lot more effort and time to explain certain policies, but if you choose to keep quiet or just give vague explanations, suscipicion will pile up, and that will only lead speculation, often on the negative side, from the people.

Then there's the issue of elitism, the disconnect between those who are in power and those who are not. PM Lee couched it in terms of a "natural aristocracy", which in turn backfired horribly, because when people think that you belong to a group different than theirs, they're more likely to dislike you. Statements like the cardboard comment from Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, although may not be intended that way, only serves to bolster the impression that ministers are "out of touch".

While the above mentioned factors can be seen as good reasons to vote against the incumbent, the question is whether the oppostion can provide a credible alternative to the ruling party. Looking at this election, at least from the crowd reaction during the rallies and from social media, I have a feeling that this election will be decided primarily through feelings. Are we angry or disappointed enough? Or are we grateful or fearful of the unknown? I don't have the numbers, but I have a feeling that a lot of Singaporeans will be voting using their heart rather than mind.

Which can be dangerous, at least in my views, because I believe that protesting only for the sake of protesting can be dangerous. Out of the eight opposition parties out there, how many of them are truly capable or serious enough to lead? How many of them actually have a viable plan to address the issues faced by Singaporeans, rather than just trying to capitalise over the unhappiness that Singaporeans are feeling? How many of them actually bother to put forward a manifesto, which in my opinion is the gold standard, despite the amount of effort needed to understand it, to judge the calibre of any political party. 

I can stand and complain and shout all day, but without a concrete plan to address the problem, the problem is not going to go anywhere. You cannot just shout and complain an issue away. And that's not the only consideration. 

Out of all the parties that put out the manifestos, how many of the manifestos are actually defendable concrete plans? Mind you that the ideal manifesto outlines how your tax money is going to be spent, and without a concrete plan, a lot can go wrong in a measly five years. For a small country like Singapore, going wrong means there is going to be a high price to pay. How many of us actually bothered to study the manifestos, and bothered to discuss and debate the various initiatives? Can a minimum wage system really address proverty? Can cutting defense budget really help Singaporeans lead a more affordable lifestyle without sacrificing sovereignity?

Of course, we can say that we are not equipped enough to handle such an in-depth discussion but even on a national scale, not much has been debated on the issue. Only a few politicians have come up so far to really rebut the points and suggestions concerning proposed policies (Tharman for example, and Gerald Giam when defending the minimum wage), but a lot of others have been focusing on other issues. Issues like trust, integrity, town council management skills, arrogance, anger and a dissapointment, just to name a few. While feelings are important, they should not be the only basis of how we arrive to a decision.

Sometimes I cannot help but feel that we're just voting for the lesser evil this election.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rallies won't change Malaysia. Yet.

Writer's note: I hesitated on writing about Bersih 4.0. Because after all, as someone who is part of the brain drain in Malaysia, as someone who saw that it's better to leave than fight, I don't see myself as deserving to comment as compared to those who risked going down to the rally. But looking at how the discussion is exploding online, I felt the need to pen this down, in hopes of getting another perspective of this rally out.

Over the past few days, news about Bersih 4.0 flooded my newsfeed. Many of my Malaysian friends either attended or supported the event, directly or indirectly, and my social media was filled with yellow. I can't help but to feel a sense of admiration for those who went down and supported the rally, and a sense of pride that my fellow countrymen were able to pull this off.

While we cannot deny that in terms of turnout and conduct, Bersih 4.0 can be considered a success, numerous other questions and issues were raised to in response to the rally. Questions that we definitely need to answer if we are serious about changing the country and not let our efforts top at Bersih 4.0.

First, will the rally achieve the change it was supposed to, or will it be just like a one-off carnival, where the status quo remains after everyone has packed up and gone home? Second, was there a noticeable lack of Malays, the majority population, during the rally? And how will it affect the perception of the rally?

One of the biggest criticism against Bersih 4.0 was its power to change the status quo. Critics argued that at the end of the rally, supporters will just go back to their normal life and continue on, while Najib and co. (the main targets in this rally this time round), remain in power without any noticeable change. This is exactly why some analysts are saying that the police have so far remained peaceful because any provocation would just bolster the cause of Bersih 4.0.

“Just let them let off some steam”, I would imagine Najib's strategists say, “and they will go back to their life, thinking that they have achieved something.”

Supporters of Bersih 4.0 may argue that the rally is not the end of things, that it is to send a clear signal to the administration that the citizens had enough, or that the main purpose is to change people's mindset and mentality, as a start to something bigger. But let us not forget that the organisers of Bersih 4.0 did list down five demands as part of the rally, which includes a free and fair election, a transparent government and the right to demonstrate. Aside from the right to demonstrate, how many other demands can the organisers achieve before the rally peters out?

Minimal to none, if the government continues to play the ignorant strategy. Even one of the biggest protests — the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong — failed to achieve anything substantial at the end of their protest because the administration simply acted dumb to the protests. They simply let the protest be, while everyone except the students carried on their normal lives.

The movement may have seemed big, but it failed simply because of one reason: it lacked the support of the majority of the population. And Bersih 4.0 may be just facing a similar issue too, which the apparent absent of Malays as some claimed. There are already talks of it on social media. Hafidz Baharom, in his article, claims that there are those who already took to social media to mock the lack of Malays. Joe Najib, in a more succinct analysis, wrote that Bersih alone is not enough because we are not reaching out to those who truly matter.

The rural Malay voters. The core support of UMNO. This is the sentiment that I share, and perhaps the biggest challenge right now in changing Malaysia. The number of yellow participants may look big in photos, but the silent majority is bigger. No matter how many rallies you plan, it will not change anything if your message does not resonate with the majority of the population.

If we are truly serious about changing Malaysia, we need to stop having rallies. At least for the time being. Rallies work great at sending your message across, but it works best if everyone buys into your message. If a significant population decides that your rally works against them, my advice is to not have rallies at all. Instead, focus on reaching out to those who are most likely to buy into government's propaganda. Start to change their mindset, make them see the other side of the story.

This will not be easy, but it is the most effective and longest-lasting way to introduce a mindset change. Malaysia's biggest problem now is not apathetic citizens. It is the education system who produced citizens who cannot think for themselves, citizens who are so entrenched in the government's ketuanan Melayu mindset and citizens who cannot think out of racial lines.

Even when the Bersih 4.0 was supposed to be for all Malaysians, less than two days into it and you have people accusing the Malays for not showing up, and people accusing the rally as controlled by the Chinese. Unless this systemic divide is addressed, rallies like Bersih 4.0 will just remain as a one-off carnival event without incurring any significant changes. We've had 4 Bersihs already. How much change have we experienced since then?

Bersih needs to extend beyond just a one-off rally and the duty of bridging the racial divide should take an even more important focus before we can even consider lasting changes. We need to start thinking of how we can go out to rural areas and reach out to the Malay voters there and those who are most likely to believe UMNO's messages.

Rather than just duke it out over social media, like what we did during the Low Yatt incident, we need to start honest face-to-face conversations with one another, Like literally sitting down together and engaging in honest discussion. We need to see beyond stereotypes of each other but to see each other as similar human beings, united in one common struggle, to be able to move forward. We need to start knocking on each other's doors, interacting with each other more — like what our forefathers did — rather than just stick to our own cliques. Only by crossing the racial and class divide, by engaging the other side, can we move beyond this deeply ingrained racial mentality.

Only when we address this difference do I think rallies will exert the effect it is supposed to have.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Singaporean or Malaysian?

This blog is dead. Well, half dead. Like the kind of dead when you're having a final stage cancer. Not that the owner doesn't want to update the blog, but he is finding it increasingly difficult to do so. With the lack of time, the demand of work. Writing a blog seem so menial now. There so much more to do, so many other priorities. Gone were the days where he wanted to share his feelings with the world, through words typed out on a screen.

As a person who is stuck between two countries, born in one and adopted by another, I cannot help but to feel some sort of identity crisis now. When I first came to Singapore, I have never thought that I would stay for long. In my mind, I always knew that I would go back to Malaysia. To the Luke six years ago, Singapore seemed too mechanical, lifeless. I hated how everything moved in a precision manner, how materialistic the city seemed to be.

But that was six years ago, and those are just stereotypes formed by a boy who only has the internet as his source of information. As I got to know the city, as months became years and my roots deepened here, I came to realise that like almost everything in life, nothing is perfect. Well, except the cup of mango macchiato that I am drinking now — but as bad as I initially imagined Singapore — I slowly grew to like it, with it flaws and what not.

I slowly began to realise that, hey Malaysia ain't that perfect and Singapore ain't that bad too. I guess this is what travelling does to you. I began to see the good and the bad, the nuances that come with it. That no city can be perfect. For every shortcoming, there is a positive attribute.

As both countries stand at important crossroads now, Malaysia with the political turmoil and Singapore with the upcoming election, I cannot help but wonder which country do I truly belong to now. I still feel for both countries. Malaysia, for the first 19 years of unforgettable memories, and Singapore, for the six years of tough moulding. If you ask me now, I can never really tell you with certainty if I am Malaysian or Singaporean now.

Granted, I can never be a true Singaporean in most people's eyes; and I fully understand that, with me not going through National Service and the formation years. And I guess that is something you can never pick up if you have not gone through those formative years.

But yet I no longer see myself as a true blue Malaysian any longer too. I find it hard to identify with things that make us Malaysia now, especially the political struggles. Whenever I go back to Malaysia during the holidays, I increasingly find myself being an alien, no longer recognising how things work. And there have been numerous times where I blended in perfectly with Singaporeans, where people guessed that I was from Singapore until I speak Chinese or when they ask me about NS.

So who am I? To be honest, I don't know. Maybe they should consider creating a third category for us who are stuck in between two identities, without knowing which we belong to. Perhaps this is where PR comes into play.


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