The National Day celebration is important. Apart from its historical significance, it’s an occasion when the nation pauses to listen to the Royal address. In His Majesty’s words, our people look for guidance, inspiration, and wisdom.

The tone of the addresses, many say, is changing. For example, for the past few years, the Royal addresses—apart from the appreciation of the contribution of the government, institutions, and the people—have been timely reminders of our shortcomings. From the need to constantly rethink national priorities to charting out a 21st century economic roadmap to major reforms in the civil service and education, the messages have been profoundly clear. 

Are we living up to the Royal visions, though? 

We guess not, especially from the blunt message that came from the Royal address yesterday. One message that stood out clear was accountability. When His Majesty used the allegory of “ngag” to drive home the message on the need to take bold decisions and the need for grit and fortitude in defining the national aspirations, many seemed to have missed the nuances. The message was that we should perform without being driven by misplaced compassion and must be accountable for our actions.

Let’s reflect on the Royal address to understand our responsibilities deeper. Perhaps do a bit of soul-searching on where you and I and our neighbour are going wrong. Are we being sincere to ourselves? 

Indeed, the core message of yesterday’s address can be summed up in what the Buddha taught us many centuries ago—the Eightfold Path. In case we’ve forgotten what they are: Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration, and Right View.

If we follow the messages of the Eightfold Path, holding someone accountable, including ourselves, will not be such a difficult task that we make it to be. Whether we live in a small or a big society, accountability must hold our sacred cohesion. If not, we will disintegrate into a dysfunctional community of pretentious citizenry.

In the pretext of compassion, the system is overburdened. For example, an alcoholic who contributes nothing to his office is tolerated because he has a family to take care of. A habitual gambler who disappears every afternoon from the office is tolerated because he is related to a secretary. This exactly is what misplaced compassion looks like.

 Meanwhile, the inter-generational gaps are rapidly redefining our values. The educated younger generation is more pragmatic. They are ready for the race. They seem to be bold, they seem to have the grit. But then, they don’t trust the system. So, what do they do? They quit the game and fly off to Australia. And then there is the other half, the school dropouts, who see no future anywhere.  

There is a parallel universe calving out in our little country. And this is dangerous. More so because many will be inadvertently left out of the race—because of the very many divides, but mainly because of the educational and digital divides. Social fractures as a result of the technology-driven dynamics can be severe. We cannot simply let that happen.

That’s why His Majesty Himself underscored the fact that the Royal address was nothing new but a simple reinterpretation of our everyday conversation. Perhaps, that itself is the mother of all messages that emanated from the Royal address. 

The time to act is now!