National Day Rally 2019

Discussing politics is usually difficult. Politics is difficult. You can’t please everyone in the room and so this article won’t either. I do not speak for any others apart from my own and therefore have personal biases due to my personal experience and environment.

To get the full rally and transcript from the source visit:

前人種樹,後人乘涼 (forefathers labour to plant the trees so that the children can enjoy the shade)

This phrase has always been close to my heart. But it held different meanings in my stages of life and may continue to change as I move through more stages into the future.

My previous thoughts on the essence of the phrase when I’m much younger:

  • We must always cherish and be thankful for what our forefathers had done that we could now enjoy the shades and the fruits of their labour
  • But if we kept pushing ourselves to plant more and more trees, when can we stop to enjoy the shade and the fruits?
  • When can we stop trying to make more money? Stop working? Retire?
  • What is the point of this phrase then?

If you have the time to go through the National Day Rally, it emphasized on three points. Education, Work/Retirement, Climate change. With the last two being the most sensitive and peculiar topics.

I shall not dive into details to repeat what could be read at its original source as given above.

But in essence, I am reminded of the phrase 前人種樹,後人乘涼 with what was discussed or announced at the rally.

In Singapore, we are living in a highly stressed environment. Studying, working and definitely will be working longer and later into our years. It is as a matter of fact, extremely tiring, and many might be asking the question, when can we retire? Why are we putting our next generation into this system where they need to work for 40, 50 years and increasingly longer before able to retire?

Why keep planting more and more and more trees? Where is the shade and fruits as promised?

In my older self, I realized that the phrase “前人種樹,後人乘涼” is a philosophical one, it is a mindset, it is about the mentality.

We can never be the 後人 (subsequent generation) to enjoy the shade nor the fruits. We mustn’t have the mindset to be.

And we must always and continue always to be the 前人 (forefathers) to work tirelessly for the future generations.

It is not so much about the money, it is about doing all we can.

Or in pop culture currently. It is the mindset of “Winter is coming”

Especially so in Singapore. We cannot afford to have the mentality of when we can finally be the 後人 (subsequent generation). We cannot afford to stay stagnant, we cannot even move slower than others as we are really just a small dot on the map.

If we do not keep on ourselves on our toes constantly, we will be under the toes of others.

Cause “Winter is coming”


I would like to applaud the government on many fronts (not just this rally) with initiatives and plans on how to survive this “Winter”.

However, communication work could be better to align vision and goals.

Lets be frank:

  • Official retirement age or not, people are going to live longer. To not feel useless at old age, we need a way to keep ourselves useful and occupied
  • Many jobs are going to be redundant in the face of ever changing technology and economic landscape. Machines will definitely replace majority of jobs

When the government’s job is to think in hundreds of years and when citizens only look at their own lifetime, friction is bound to arise.

The mentality of working for Singapore and striving for Singapore as a nation in the early years of independence days must be rekindled and re-aligned. Which unfortunately had mostly become, “how am I going to retire in my own lifetime”.

When people felt that the “work” had already been done, so where’s my shade and where’s my fruits, misalignment can steer a nation off course badly.

We must find ways to once again be in the positive mentality of 前人種樹. To always be in the mentality of being the forefathers of our time in each and every generations. To move forward as a collective unit, people and government. Not just to keep up with peers, but to constantly exceed and excel.

Because, winter is coming.


Thank you for reading.

~ 前人種樹,後人乘涼

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