All that we can be

All that we can be

As a Singaporean working closely with foreigners, I’m starting to see Singapore from an outsider’s perspective and understanding why our little red dot appeals to them so much.

To them, especially to our counterparts across the causeway, it’s amazing how much we’ve grown economically and established ourselves as a cosmopolitan world capital while making sure we preserve our Singaporean identity.

However, as one of my friends once told me, it’s not enough for us to be proud of where we are, but also to take a look back at how we got there.

In other words, we shouldn’t just celebrate what we have become (prosperous, dynamic, safe) but also reflect on the parts each of us has played to get to such positive outcomes.

In that sense, much of what we have now is thanks to the government’s no-nonsense approach to social development and economic growth.

Most importantly, our leaders’ perseverance when all odds were not in their favour allowed us all to enjoy the things we take for granted today.

For better or for worse, those are the foundations our nation was built on.

That’s why I get quite disappointed when I increasingly hear people complaining and demanding things instead of following the example of our ancestors and taking charge to resolve problems and push things forward.

Approximately this time last year, PM Lee called out for citizens’ support to have an ongoing national conversation with our Singapore leaders to develop broad perspectives that can help us build a Singapore we all want to be a part of.

In PM Lee’s own words: “Individual achievement must be tempered with a mutual obligation… The Government will do more, but it cannot do everything. Every Singaporean must play his part in creating an inclusive Singapore.”

This is basically the context in which Our SG Conversation was born. Except the platform progressively became a place for Singaporeans to vent, complain, and ask for things from the government instead of contributing ideas, initiatives, or manpower.

The mentality is such that it’s always about what the government can do for people, and never about what people can do for themselves or for others.

Want opportunities from Singapore’s vibrant economy? Improve your skills. Want strong families? Make time for one. Want a society with values? Start practising them.

The basics are already there for the taking – housing grants, opportunity funds, healthcare and parenthood support, etc. – but in order to reach meaningful and durable results we all need to start giving back!

So how about we start acting like the Singaporean we claim to be?

  1. I can certainly identify and agree with many of the key points in this article. Having seen and been through the formative years till today, I can certainly feel in resonance with the contents outline.
    We have come a long way from the colonial days to the current recognized and respected nation globally. From Open drains to highways, from rickety buses & lorries to air-con buses and mass transit trains, from shared common taps to drinking fountains & oasis, and from simple wood huts to Ultra modern appartment blocks.
    And there are more which we can proudly see. To get here wasnt easy, and we should truly appreciate those who have contributed in small or significant ways to have this achieved. The leadership and the collective effort of the society, their wills, tenancies and grits must be admired and acknowledged.
    As with other activities, maturity and saturation points are also to be reckoned with. And we are at such crucial points today. The future will not be easy, and would require even more concreted collective efforts from all in society to step up. Complacency and false expectations could probably be our greatest challenges.
    I have this nagging apprehension that the route ahead would be even more bumpy than the past. Mainly because we have had it too smooth, and have allowed both complacency and false expectation to creep into our values. In addition, old methods which had worked well in the past would have to be reviewed and revamped if we are to face what’s ahead with better risk management strategies. Success would not be guaranteed.

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