On Space Projects

I used to be very simple-minded and against the Chinese government launching space projects with astronomical (a suitable adjective, at least literally) amount of money when there are many children in rural areas unable to receive proper education. In my over simplistic mindset, the expenses of the government can be invested in many other ‘more urgent, essential’ areas, like improving education, fighting poverty, raising productivity, and so on, instead of those ‘useless, showing off’ areas, like space projects and gigantic constructions.

But I have also been a NASA fan since the first day I came to know its existence. I cheer for every NASA success and love all those NASA legends. Why I supported NASA but opposed Chinese space programmes could only be explained by my deep distrust in the Chinese government and the Communist Party.

Yet I was wrong. Gradually I have come to understand the importance of space projects, even if it is done by communists.

Space projects are not just showing off abilities and strength — in fact, it is the most expensive way to show off strength, so expensive that the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union had to come to a halt without conclusive winner. Space projects are more science oriented, rather than politics oriented; they are to benefit the whole human race, instead of a limited group of politicians.

The technologies developed for space programmes are mostly deployed in civil productions. Military industry of course would be benefited as well, but those benefits can be justified by the benefits bestowed onto the public. Even at the height of space race, NASA carried out scientific experiments and developed many technologies that we have taken for granted today.

The first artificial satellite of China was indeed an ideology propaganda tool, but that does not nullify the importance of Chinese space programmes in recent years. Time has changed.

However, no matter how much I support the space programmes, be it of NASA or Europe or China, I could not make myself agree to the propaganda elements in the Chinese media reports. ‘The hundred years of waiting ends! We Chinese have realized our dreams of flying to the space!’ Frankly that is nothing to be proud of if a country, who thinks highly of herself, can only manage to accomplish what the other countries have accomplished decades before. And talking about ‘dreams’, have the Chinese really dreamed of anything close to this? Those vague, bluffing, bragging, pretentious slogans only make supporters like me disgusted.

Loss of Memory

After 10 years I came to Parkway Parade in 2012. It was so different to what I remembered a decade ago — but what was in my memory? I could not remember so clearly. In fact, Parkway Parade in my memory had been so blurry that I doubted whether it was me who had been here at least twice a week during the period 1998 – 2002.

The sense of loss came to me as well as I visited the district in Swatou in 2010, the district where I lived from 1987 to 1998. I knew it had changed dramatically but I could not figure out how it was like in my blurry memory. It was like everything had been redefined, and my memory had been erased completely.

This happens not only to places but to people too. Sometimes I wonder where the person in front of me has come from and why I get to know him or her because that person has changed through the years and yet I cannot remember how he or she was like when we first met. Is it a punk played by life, or a cognitive phenomenon that is natural to common people?

No doubt I am very nostalgic but my memory keeps failing me.

I cannot remember clearly how Singapore looked like when I first came here fifteen years ago. I can only remember that the MRT system was still a new thing then, and people were generally happier. What has made Singapore so different now, I cannot tell, but she is different.

I cannot remember clearly the life in Chung Cheng High School (Main), but when I went back as an East Zone teacher I could sense the fall of my alma mater. Not that she was at a very high status when I was a student there, but she did fall, as far as my sense told me.

I do not know what has ruined Singaporeans’ happiness, nor can I come to understand why my alma mater has slipped through the years. My memory is not capable of recalling the past and obviously of comprehending the cause of changes. What it is capable of is just a deep feeling of loss.

The world changes fast, no matter how my inner self refuses to accept that. The world changes so fast that my memory cannot absorb the recent events before it needs to face new changes. People say that change is the only constant. I fully appreciate it, and do make myself adapt to new changes. But it is still something lost that I cannot retrieve any more, that saddens me much, that makes my past a worthless mess.

Why I am here is due to my many selves in the flow of river of passing currents, and those selves are all gone.