An X-tra Happy Birthday, Singapore!

The ABCs of why I thank God for you, my beloved homeland

By Dr Tan Ying Kheng

Photo credit: Chen Hu. Taken from
You've made me who I am today - multicultural world-native, ethno-tolerant.

Ang Mo Kio, Binjai Park,
Clemenceau, Delta, Eng Kong Place.
I love you Singapore – you’re these and more –
let me count the ways.

You’ve made me who I am today –
Multicultural world-native, ethno-tolerant.
Let’s start with the food (which I forget are good
Until whenever I travel).

Because of my upbringing, lunch could be Gyoza
Or Hainanese chicken rice with achar;
Tea at ION’s TWG Salon & Boutique? Aiyoh, boleh.
Or dinner at Joo Chiat’s 328 Katong Laksa.

Muthu’s fish head curry – eyes, cheeks and all. Can!
Or bring on the salad Nicoise olives, pan-seared foie-gras.
Spicy, exotic, queer, hand or chopsticks? Can! Can!
For I am Singaporean, hear me roar!

But seriously, what I’m grateful for are very simple things –
Like trash being cleared every day, and kids going to bed each night
Safe and fearless of waking up hopeless,
Stripped of state, shelter, identity, dignity or rights.

Rights of going to school, rights to be protected by law,
Rights to serve God and country whether born female, migrant or poor.
Such we in Singapore already have – are spoiling us, I must add –
That our tensions are still about Singlish and PSLE scores.

I shan’t go into university rankings or other very important issues –
My aim today is to write a “An X-tra Happy Birthday” wish.
Go ahead, continue to be the world’s number one this and that –
But YK’s zealous prayer is you’ll be God’s anointed Antioch, for such a time as this.