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All the about Pkchukiss's life in the Singapore Armed Forces

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The burgler alarm

There is a huge disparity between talking your talk, and walking it.

And I can really feel the resistance.

I still remember how my parents told me about the wonderful stories in their childhood days spent in wooden huts, more commonly known as kampongs. About how they used to be devoid of all the technological wonders that we take for granted everyday: the television, computers; even radios were luxury items ill-afforded by the more well to-do.

The families in the kampong would gather together, shoot the breeze, share recepies, help to watch over jade bracelets (considered the heirlome of families in those days), and essentially mingle together for no apparent reason, and still manage to have fun. Security was never an issue, since the bond between neighbours were so close that newcomers to town would stick out like a sore thumb.

This spirit cannot be replicated in these brick and mortar high-rise flats, where neighbours don't even know they live next to each other, and front doors are kept tightly shut in the day to keep in the air-conditioning. Of course, there are artificial substitutes for these traditional interactions, but really, instant messenging cannot replace the direct human interaction.

In fact, things are so bad that families get burgler security systems (so totally unheard of in the early days), which then go off with neighbours not giving a care in the world; no one bothers to step out of their house, go over to the unit to check on their neighbours. What if they were really robbed?

In case you were wondering why I am writing this, it is because the exact same thing is happening to one of my neighbours. I was about to go out to check, when I felt waves of resistance overcoming me:

What if it is just a false alarm?
What if the burglers are armed?
What if...

I didn't go out. I was paralysed by the typical Singaporean mindset: that it was none of my business when strangers get robbed.

It is really strange. I've read angry newspaper forum letters lamblasting the inaction by passer-bys in the face of injustice, and I was really sure at that time that I would do the right thing if I were to be around a crime scene. Instead, when it happens to me, I just stood there as a spectator.

Now what if my neighbours were really robbed? The alarm has fallen silent by now (cut by the burglers?), and I just sit here typing this confession.

All the training in national service - defending the nation from aggressors is total nonsense, especially so when I stood passively while a burgler alarm echoed throughout the block.

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