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article imageOp-Ed: Singaporeans, how ungracious are you?

By Tan Wen Hui     Jul 16, 2012 in World
It’s no secret Singaporeans lack social graciousness, and public education has done little to reform attitudes and complete the socialisation process.
Can Singapore be classified as a ‘World Class’ city state when the majority of the population is still boorish? Can Singapore live up to its motto of being a First World nation?
The answer is clear-cut. Unless Singaporeans are able to change their selfish attitudes and start caring for others, extensive public education and awareness campaigns are not necessary.
After all, social graciousness starts with the insignificant individual: you.
This brings to point our role in society. As a member of the public, aren’t we supposed to help one another in times of need? Also, to be a socially responsible citizen and do our part to return to society what we have gained?
As popular Singapore blogger Goh Yong Wei aptly states in his blog entry titled ‘Social Graciousness in Singapore’, ‘it’s our responsibility as a society to prove that we’re gracious so that others can learn from our actions’.
Without further ado, we re-visit the four most common traits of an ugly Singaporean and why the Singa Lion needs to be around to serve as a reminder for people to be kind to each other.
• Complain
Complaining is a truly Singaporean pastime, but is it necessary? Especially if it is over petty issues, kicking up a fuss makes us look bad in the eyes of our foreign counterparts. It’s no wonder Singaporeans are labelled as “Complain Kings” and “Complain Queens” for our low level of tolerance sets the precedence for us to be jeered at.
According to the Q1 2012 Customer Satisfaction Index report, the retail sector saw its satisfaction score dip by 1.5 points to 69.1 points, negating some of the strong gains it made in the previous two years.
The survey also found that Singaporean consumers were getting more vocal. The Info-Communications sector in particular, saw an even larger increase in complaints, from 6.2% in 2010, to 9.1% in 2011 and 16.3% in 2012 – the highest complaint rates since 2007.
• Lack of Manners
It’s a fallacy to think that only the Mainland Chinese and Koreans are rude. In fact, the third ugliest people in Asia are – arguably – Singaporeans.
Nevertheless, this stems from the lack of manners from the community at large. Could it be that Singaporeans are nowadays so obsessed with all things Korean they even resort to turning a blind eye on cultivating good manners?
From the looks of it, it seems that Singaporeans, particularly the youths, choose to follow the Korean's footsteps, they even do away with the ‘please’ and ‘thank yous’.
In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, IT Manager Paul Stapleton who is based in Singapore is quoted as saying: “They (Singaporeans) are the rudest f***ing people I have ever seen; they need some basic training in civic awareness. They don’t feel that anyone else exists outside this tiny island.”
Likewise, Singaporean hairdresser Ivan Seah agrees that the majority of Singaporeans are ignorant. “This leads to many (Singaporeans) becoming selfish, they refuse to lend others a helping hand,” says Ivan.
• Ungracious
In an article written by 2012 Presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian and published on The Online Citizen, the latter mentioned that Singapore’s policy makers “may have to re-think some of the policies that have shaped the country successfully in past years, but have become disadvantageous today.”
Tan adds that he hopes Singapore can learn from Taiwan and work towards building a gracious society. “This was the goal set by Mr. Goh Chok Tong some years ago, when he was Prime Minister. This goal seemed to have been shelved in recent years. I hope that it can be re-launched, as it is worth pursuing.”
With that, he ended off by reiterating that Singapore’s policy makers should reflect on past policies that have become disadvantageous today in shaping a gracious society.
Yes. Singapore may have progressed as a society, but not as a civilization. This is reflected in the way people treat others in public. Especially in crowded MRT trains and buses, Singaporeans, regardless of gender, are not willing to give up their seats to the elderly, needy and pregnant.
• Insensitive
No-one would have expected Wee Shu Min, the scholar-daughter of then Peoples' Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament Wee Siew Kim to blast at a 40-year-old executive on her blog for him whining about his future career prospects in this highly competitive country.
Similarly, nobody would have expected a young man in his 20s’ to refuse giving up his seat in the MRT train to an elderly gentleman who needs it more.
As Singapore strives to become a First World nation, it seems more and more Singaporeans are becoming selfish and insensitive towards one another. Whatever the reason, it is evident that Singapore’s rigorous education system has failed to instill in its people quality morals and values that mould a socially-responsible person.
What are your thoughts?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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