Let's not take what we have for granted

Let's not take what we have for granted

The article published on October 10 2014 ("Mr Lee's radio talks on merger fight back in print") prompted me to write in as a member of the pioneer generation.

I was a student back in the 1960s when the momentous events of merger and separation took place.

We had to work hard to survive. I remember carrying water in pails from public taps; the tensions and fears during the racial riots when I had to rush home alone on a bus; and being briefed, as a key appointment holder in early national service, about the possibility of battles following the MacDonald House bombing.

I remember the "bleak" future after the separation when, as a small state without any hinterland or natural resources, Singapore faced an unknown and perilous journey ahead.

I recall how my dad struggled to pay my university fees when I was a medical student some 40 years ago. At the same time, I was acutely aware that my studies were heavily subsidised by the Government and that I was privileged to be given the opportunity to study medicine.

As a doctor, I went through the severe acute respiratory syndrome and H1N1 episodes. There were near-misses where I almost became a casualty myself.

Nowadays, I am amazed when I hear of students who never read the newspapers and are not aware of current affairs facing us and the rest of the world.

I am taken aback by the "entitlement" attitude of our young, and how they take many things for granted, such as clean water from the tap, a roof over their heads in a relatively safe environment, and opportunities to make good if they work hard.

I am aware that the authorities have made mistakes in the past. We have seen individuals in positions of power who were corrupt or arrogant, but there are also many who have made tremendous sacrifices to get us to where we are today.

Let us not brush all these aside and forget where we came from. Let us not destroy what we have built up over the years by some impulsive emotional outbursts and angst fuelled by those who have their own agenda.

I will not be around for the next 50 years of Singapore's history, but I encourage Singaporeans not to take for granted what we have now.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

This article was first published on Oct 11, 2014.
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