Who Dares Wins – Part 2

November 25, 2014

It is natural and even healthy for society to venerate certain professions and vocations, while eschewing others to the garbage heap. My point is what happens when the range of admired professions becomes so narrow squeezing out the field of possibilities for upward mobility.

In America, if one were to ask youths who would you like to become most….it would probably be Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet. In Hong Kong, Li Ka Shing. Even in Malaysia it would probably be Robert Kouk or Vincent Tan. But in Singapore, everyone aspires to be a scholars, senior government officials; and this in my view is not only unhealthy, but since the idea of public service has thru the years become synonymous with the good life – this can only narrow the field of possibilities further along with diminishing the path of aspirations.

This blinkered definition of personal and organizational success not only corrodes the status of other professionals and vocations but it also militates against the whole idea of a nation carving out competitive advantage globally. When one considers the percipitious changes that coursing thru out the political, economic, social and cultural tapestry of the globe and how it may offer infinite opportunities for upward mobility….I can’t but help feel this attitude is a self inflicted travesty that will one day cost Singapore and Singaporeans dearly.


‘The idea of the self made man will always pose a danger to the whole idea of government and officialdom since the very rationale for the archetype is premised on the disparaging notion – governments and what they have to offer to better the lives of people is at best optional and at worst a solvent.

It is doubtful whether the likes of average Muthu’s, Ah Kau’s or Ahmad’s hitting it rich with an illegal gold or diamond mine somewhere in the god forsaken domain of Africa or creating a vast cattle empire somewhere in the Amazonian will ever qualify as suitable material for hero worship in Singapore. As the very idea of the frontier man who relies on nothing but his strength and wits to conquer and tame the wild to eventually amass great wealth will I believe always represent a threat to the whole idea of government and officialdom.

Of course there will always be those who believe this entire conceptualization of the rugged individual is much closer to mythology than reality – I say this only because even in our own cloistered community – I have frequently been derided for glorifying what many of my critics consider as mere outliers. As I don’t seem to pay much heed to the anecdotal evidence that the vast majority of those from privileged backgrounds end up in society’s top slots, while the majority of those who start out poor will never escape poverty.

I do however concede these charges leveled against me do contain some measure of truth – that I have elided many of the feral aspects of what it takes for one to succeed in the frontier. That I may have even wax lyrical the whole idea to such an extent that they whole idea of the rugged individual along with his courage and invincibility and infallibility may even be closer to a sentiment than anything resembling a collaborated truth. But that is only because the separation between advocates for and against the rugged individual often break down along political lines. Those on the left in our community, will of course dismiss the idea of the rugged individual as romanticism taking comfort in the belief socio-economic factors, lineage and where one was raised and high schooled in will alway play a preponderant role as being the great determiner of whether a person succeeds or fail and thus look for ways in which the government can attempt to step in and level the playing field.

But to this erudite group who continue to view me as some new age Hitler and Stalin and would prefer to insist in charming terms that what I propagate is at best delectable rubbish. Even they cannot deny not a single one of them ventured out into the frontier to prove my theories wrong! Not a single man!

While those who hail from the right have absolutely no qualms whatsoever in believing what I choose to write about the glorious life of the frontier man.

This group and what they believe in hardly requires any elaboration. And for the sake of brevity and peace I would much prefer to talk about this matter in another forum at another time for fear of committing violence to the idea should I try to avail myself of the charges leveled on me by the left.

What I am prepared to concede by way of commonality if not agreement to the left in our community is this – despite the sheen of the rugged individual. He is far from a perfect man. For the wilderness is by it’s very nature and condition a harsh and unforgiving place. And without a doubt, this dark side along with all it’s undesirable aspects certainly colors the attitude of the frontier man.

Some will of course say…there he goes again making all sorts of clever excuses to justify what his clique has done to amass riches in Africa and the Amazonian. No! But I will say this. Manhood for the Genteel Patriarch and Heroic Artisan is infinitely more stable than life can ever hope to be in either the darkest belly of Africa or militia infested wheat fields of Honduras. And those who may have chosen not to go and have stayed back do not have the right to judge those who have elected to go out to the blue waters of this world to seek their El Derado. As once a man had established the largest of estate or profession of choice in Singapore, he can of course feel assured of his manliness. But the manhood of the frontier man never once came with that same assurance – since his fortune was inextricably fused to the caprice of what may come his way beyond his control. The frontier man constantly had to prove and earn his manhood along with his rightful place in the community, knowing all the while that at any moment it could all be taken away by the many vagaries that comes his way in the wilderness. This constant need to prove one’s manliness day in and day out created a sense of anxiety and insecurity that we still see today ravaging our own community, dividing brother against brother.

My only hope is that it will all come to an end.’

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