The Authorities should consider ways to remind future generations about Sungei Road market and anchor some of its values in our culture.
These are the same values that have contributed to our progress and achievement as a nation.
During my school days and while growing up in a poor family, I joined many others to work in the Sungei Road market to earn additional pocket money to stay alive and pay for my education.
Sungei Road is a good reminder of the stark contrast between the lifestyle of the past and that of the relatively comfortable life that we have today.
A reminder of how tough our forefathers had to sacrifice, work hard, and improve to contribute to our nation-building process.
At that point, although many of us were hawking simple and second-hand wares in dinghy stalls and on floor mats but we had a dream for a better life.
Dreams kept us passionate about working hard and smart to build a brighter future.
In the same way, it was dreams that united our people and galvanised their talents and energies to transform Singapore from being a third-world to a first-world nation.
History has taught us that when the people have a dream, they will rise up and beat a pathway to make the dream come true.
Besides having many honest entrepreneurs, Sungei Road market was also a flea market for petty thieves, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers.
It may be hard for our younger generation to imagine how dangerous and vulnerable Singapore was in the past.
How difficult it was to transform ourselves into a relatively low-crime and corruption-free society today.
Just as importantly, it was in Sungei Road and such places that we realized nobody owed us a living. Nobody would fend for and feed us
A good run in the business was no assurance that the business would continue to be stable, secure and sustainable.
Customers would only be friendly to us as long as we could serve their needs and do it bbetter than our competitors.
They would only be loyal to us until they find a better vendor.
In the same way, Singapore must never lose a sense of healthy paranoia and positive desperation to survive and fight for a better future.
Sungei Road can remind us to strengthen our fighting spirit and constant pursuit of progress. These values are manifested in the lives of many people working in Sungei Road.
Without building on the past, having a purposeful dream, developing a healthy and vibrant environment, and fighting for a better life, our growth in the future may be limited.
We may not fulfill our forefather’s dream of making Singapore exceptional and an important part of the brave new world.
I hope this message will find a place in your heart.
By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.
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