To mark my own 50th year, I have taken time out to travel.
After travelling for a protracted period of time, I realise that it is a huge world out there.
While I tried to keep an open mind, how I saw the world invariably took its reference from my own country.
I am thankful I was born a Singaporean.
Our red passports grant us visa-free access to many countries.
Our strong currency gets us more of the other currencies, giving us more spending power.
Our proficiency in English makes it easier for us to find our way overseas and strike up rapport because we understand and can be understood.
I am proud of the fact that in Singapore, things work.
Basic amenities and infrastructure that we take for granted are still wanting in many places.
Our systems work like clockwork and in seamless coordination.
We feel safe to walk our streets at any time of the day or night.
Our country may not be spotless, but it is clean and hygienic by most standards. We can seek redress if we feel aggrieved.
This island may be surrounded by water, but we have been shielded from natural calamities, such as tsunamis, typhoons and earthquakes, and man-made disasters, such as industrial fallouts.
We have neighbours that have kept the region peaceful so that all can thrive.
We are free from fear, want and encumbrance because we can determine our own future. Birth is not destiny, as meritocracy makes us equal. We enjoy social harmony because we live it.
There is so much that Singaporeans should be thankful for.
All this has not happened by chance. It takes foresight, fortitude, unity and luck. While we feel proud to be Singaporean, let us be humbled by thinking about what could have been.
Let us contribute to the good brand called "Singapore".
Lee Teck Chuan