What we love about Singapore: Meritocracy and progress

Mohd Shahrin Hassan, air freight manager

It was a pretty special year that he was born in. Afterall, it was back in 1965 that Singapore became independent. His wife, Madam Mastura Salim, was also born the same year.

But Mr Mohd Shahrin Hassan is most grateful that the Singapore dream is alive.

"Singapore is a place where hard work will be rewarded. It depends on how hard we work for the things we want," he said from his five-room flat in Punggol, which he shares with his wife, their three children and his 68-year-old mother-in-law.

He looks back on his own life as evidence of meritocracy and progress at work.

Growing up, his father was a cleaning supervisor and his mother a cleaner. Both worked part-time in gardening and sewing respectively to earn a little extra.

"We didn't have a television, and would go to other houses if we wanted to watch any shows. We walked to school to save money.

"I would see my neighbours preserving fish, eggs and vegetables. As my parents managed to save up for a fridge, some of them would borrow ours to keep their stock."

Life now is a far cry from those days.

Speaking about their new neighbourhood, the couple say they appreciate how convenient everything is.

'There's a clinic here, minimarts, coffee shops... everything is within reach," said Madam Mastura.

"It's a new estate. As there are plans for the waterways, I expect life to be quite exciting in a few years," added Mr Mohd Shahrin.

The growth and progress Singapore has seen also reflects his own life, he said.

He joined his present company as a driver in 1987 and is now proud to be the manager of one of its branches. Mr Mohd Shahrin says it's special to be the same age as Singapore.

"I can feel it, seeing how Singapore is growing.

"It was fascinating seeing her change - Orchard Road and Shenton Way during the 70s and 80s were so different from now.

"We saw the first housing estates like Queenstown and Toa Payoh grow.

"Because we saw how Singapore struggled from 1965, and through the 70s and 80s, we appreciate how our country has progressed and how far we've come ."

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