We all know how the story goes... In the year of 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles founded Singapore.
How many of us know that Singapore has in fact been founded twice?
According to folklore, years before Raffles set foot on our shores when he was employed by the East India Company ("EIC"), a prince by the name of Sang Nila Utama was hunting one day when he saw a lion in the forest. He was so intrigued that he had discovered a new country. He named the country "Singapura" (which means "Lion City").
With the founding of modern Singapore in 1819 by Raffles, Singapore became a modern port (due to her very strategic location) and established her status as a gateway between the Western and Eastern markets.
In fact, Singapore, Malacca and Penang were very important to the EIC as they were within the trading zone of ships that travelled between the West and the East.
The British occupied Singapore for many years until the 2nd World War. When Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, many people in Singapore suffered. There are so many stories of horror and there are many in Singapore who still bear hatred. I know of a 98-year-old man who, to date, refuses to buy any product that is of a Japanese brand. If you were to step into his apartment unit, you will discover that he means what he says and he says what he means. Not a single item in his unit is a Japanese product!
In 1945, the war was declared over when the Japanese surrendered. The British came back to Singapore and they thought that life would revert back to the old days. However, by then, many in Singapore had developed the desire for freedom and a number of people lobbied for independence.
In 1963, Singapore had semi-autonomy when the British allowed Singapore to merge with Malaysia. Unfortunately, the marriage was short-lived and on 9 August 1965, independence was finally declared for Singapore.
This small nation has come a very long way since 1965. From an underdeveloped economy, she has now progressed to developed economy. We have much to be thankful for. Our country is safe and stable. We may not have 4 seasons in a year but on the other hand, we are not subject to earthquakes, typhoons and other natural calamities.
As we look forward to this year's National Day parade, I pray that the next generation of Singaporeans will be affluent and yet at the same time, stay grounded and not fall prey to the works of the devil by becoming an uncaring and calculative society.
Each year, I look forward to listening to the National Day songs being sung during the National Day parade (even more so that the airshow or other performances!). I must admit, however, that I prefer the National Day songs of old. The more recent songs are perhaps a bit too "modern" for me.