Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Be Confident & Optimistic

When Singapore became an independent nation, many people thought we could not make it. But we did. This is due to the spirit of many Singaporeans who contributed to make Singapore what it is. We refused to accept what others thought was inevitable without trying.

Here is a story from Dr. Lee Kum Tatt and her granddaughter.

Tan Kin Lian


Be Confident & Optimistic

When Singapore became self governing in 1959 and an independent nation in 1965 many thought that we would have a hard time to keep ourselves afloat. Singapore, a small country, with its human beings as its only resource, could do only so much and no more.

This was a very pessimistic view. It can develop into an inferiority complex which would hinder our progress and will not encourage us to try.

On the other hand we could not afford to act big and be seen as being boastful. We would be branded as “ugly” Singaporeans if we do. We were aware of the uncomfortable position we were in.

Many of us tried our best in our own ways to find the right balance so that we would not allow an inferiority complex hinder our willingness and ability to do our best to progress. We also must not be seen to be cocky to our friends. We cannot afford to stick out like a sore thumb in the region.

Singapore’s history is full of examples of what Singaporeans did under these circumstances. So far it appears we have managed to have a good balance which must be constantly monitored and maintained.

When I told my grand children of this dilemma of ours and what some of us did to help, my eldest grand daughter told me this story. This is not an original story from her but one that is very apt for the youngsters and for us to know. Here is the story.

In a certain country where the value of their girls is measured by the number of cows their parents receive from the groom when their daughter marries. The scale ranges from 0 to five cows per girl. The value is fixed arbitrary by the people in their community.

One of the girls was considered not to be worth even one single cow. Poor girl and parents! Why should they be made to suffer such a fate?

One day, someone came, met the girl and offered 7 cows for her hand in marriage. The girl got married and the couple went away. The husband must have found her to be worth 7 cows as a girl and wife.

When she returned one day, well dressed and cultured nobody recognized her until she told them who she was. Everybody was pleasantly surprised. They realized how wrong they had been with their previous judgment.

The girl never allowed herself to be bogged down by what others think. She knew her true worth and refused to be belittled.

The moral of the story is for us to be able to show our true worth. The world will respect us for what we are. Our people must continue to have faith and confidence in themselves. We must be able to think big but not act big. Ultimately it is our true worth and performance that counts.

Lee Kum Tatt
10th April 2007

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