The small Himalayan country called Bhutan came into prominence recently when its king married a commoner in a colourful ceremony and brought happiness to his subjects winning the universal acclaim of being the most happy nation on earth. This seems to strike a chord with Singaporeans who wish the Bhutanese well for their happiness which is to many people an elusive element in the Singapore society. However, along came a jocular figure in the person of Minister Khaw Boon Wan who pooh-poohed the universal perception that Bhutan could be the last Shangri-la on earth.`He also denigrated Bhutan that it could not be the happy country made out to be as its people are almost eking out a living from its not very fertile soil. Mr Khaw could not have been more pretentious by his depreciating remarks on Bhutan just from one brief visit to the country. Of course, he could not be faulted for trying to be more critical than the former MM Lee Kuan Yew in disparaging others.
Be that as it may, it could come as a mild shock to Mr Khaw to discover that there is a highly-cultured Bhutanese who goes by the name of PaSsu who could give him a lesson in logical argument in English. Does it surprise Mr Khaw that an ordinary Bhutanese could operate a blog on which he has posted that "this is in reply to National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan of Singapore on his comments made on our country". For a Bhutanese he surprises readers with his fairly high standard of satirical replies to each of Mr Khaw's disparagements of his country.
Saying that he was not surprised when Mr Khaw said that "Bhutan is not the last Shangri-la on Earth" because a friend of his from Singapore found Bhutan only "full of mountains and valleys". The Bhutanese asked sarcastically:"When you visited Bhutan, what did you expect? Those flying mountains you saw in Avatar? or every Bhutanese merrily dancing in designer clothes? Well, you must have at least expected fancier cars and taller buildings but we only have taller mountains (not flying ones) and thicker forest (truly natural)". To Mr Khaw's uncomplimentary remarks that most of the time he only saw unhappy people toiling in the field, worried about the next harvest and whether there would be buyers for their products, the quick-witted Bhutanese quoted a proverb he had heard in school:"Two men looked through the prison window, one saw the mud and the other saw the horizon".
The humorous Bhutanese said that he was surprised that Mr Khaw spent most of his time in Bhutan looking in the fields and was amazed at his ability to figure out whether the people are happy or unhappy just by looking at them. He answered point-blank that if Mr Khaw had gone closer to see the people in the fields, he would have heard them singing and enjoying the social lives which Mr Khaw would not understand. He would have seen a woman with a basket on her back holding arms with several children coming with steaming food and everybody will sit down to eat their lunch, laughing, joking and feeding babies. The people do not worry about the next harvest or whether there would be buyers for their products. In fact, they do not do much commercial farming but do the farming to keep with tradition. When the sun sets, the people leave for their homes where they have a large family waiting for a family get-together.
Well, Mr Khaw, Singapore may be a thriving modern city but what percentage of the people are really happy like the Bhutanese. The people who can be said to be extremely happy are ministers like your kind self who are drawing whopping salaries from the taxpayers' money. So before you venture again to dispense your uncomplimentary remarks about other countries, you will save yourself a lot of public disapprobation if you think twice before you open your big mouth. Or maybe ministers are so thick-skinned that one more criticism does not add further to their dented reputation.
The Bhutanese blog post is titled:"Bhutanese replies to Khaw Boon Wan's 'Shangri-la' comments". It is meant to be an open letter to Mr Khaw Boon Wan if he has not already read it.