Happy Birthday Singapore! Turning 40 is no mean feat, and it seems that hitting middle age comes with its share of trials and tribulations. With still a third of the way to go, 2005 has already brought more than its fair share of events - things like the NKF CEO "peanuts" salary, IRs, etc. But hey, don't fret - these are all part and parcel of growing up as a nation.
What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. And stronger I hope you will become for the 4 million people that live within your tiny boundaries. 40 is when people rise into middle management, manage people and perhaps start to see things from a wider perspective. 40 is when you should have your own perspective of the world, be able to think for yourself and not be misled easily (不惑之年).
You've a lot of responsibilities, with a large family to provide for, no longer the hot-blooded runaway train of your youth. Times have changed, when in the past just bringing back the paycheck was enough to satisfy the family, but now you realize they need more than just having their material needs satisfied. They want to sit down and talk, have you listen to what they're thinking. Maybe you should take a break from work and listen to what they have to say. Making money isn't everything, you know.
I remember attending your 24th birthday at the National Stadium during Sec 2, as one little square among the hundreds in the giant placard display. Even after enduring several weeks of practice under the hot sun, I felt proud of being a Singaporean on the actual day with the fireworks display and all. The one other time I felt so strongly was when Singapore beat Selangor in a Malaysia Cup match, shouting "kelong" and "referee kayu" with my fellow breathren in the jam-packed humid spectator stands. Those were wonderful days.
You've grown since then, and so have I. You're mature enough to think for yourself now, and I hope the recent events have given you a wakeup call on what's really important to your family, not only money, not only material possessions. Stop working overtime, go home early, have dinner with them, let them talk - and listen carefully.
Happy 40th Birthday, Singapore.