Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong‘s recent remarks that Singaporeans should stop griping and “put their problems in perspective” have ignited a fair amount of debate.
The Straits Times reports that SM Goh made the following comments during a Malay community event last Saturday: ”It’s important that we do not complain too much when we can’t get the house that we want, we can’t get the carpark that we want, when the MRT trains are a little crowded.”
“We are in fact quite fortunate. These are problems created by our own success. There are many people who are not able to benefit from our overall success. Just remember them as we also try to solve our problems at the top end,” he added.
His remarks though have since attracted a fair bit of criticism from those who feel the issues addressed legitimate areas of concern.
Social services executive, Lai Mun Loon, told the same paper, “Mr Goh must have missed the point. If you created the problems, then solve them… We give our feedback as concerned citizens. We don’t want to reach the point where we’re left with no recourse and no one wants to listen to us any more.”
Another, Arena Loo, 32, added,”I don’t think these are just complaints. There is genuine unhappiness among the large middle class and if you suppress them, there will be social tension.”
I, for one, am of the view that both parties have their point.
Yes, we must consider the plight of those in the lower-income brackets as mentioned by SM Goh.
If one goes to a Meet-the-People session or helps to bring food to the disadvantaged as I often have, the average Singaporean will be startled to see the substantial number of lower-income people who consistently require some form of financial assistance.
Perhaps, ironically, the government has only itself to blame for perfecting a system which too often harps on the importance of success, excellence and meritocracy which has inadvertently led to blinkered Singaporeans adopting a self-centred, ”me first” attitude.
But, at the same time, I can see the other side of the coin.
Being a 21-year-old Malay undergraduate, I am sincerely worried about what the future holds for my generation and the ones after.
Will I be able to afford a home? Will I be able to raise my family and look after my parents in Singapore? Will I be displaced by a foreigner when it comes to employment?
These are bread-and-butter questions the government must think about for the benefit of future generations.
General overcrowding in tiny Singapore and rising property prices are legitimate concerns and the government must be wary of waiving off these concerns as mere “gripes” and instead tackle the root of the issues head-on.
Higher HDB prices would make it unaffordable for young couples dreaming of building a family home. With the already high cost of living, sky-rocketing home prices would only place unnecessary strain on their finances. This would translate into low birth rates as having children would be seen as an additional financial burden.
The influx of immigrants is making an already overcrowded Singapore even more crowded. The important thing is to educate them on our ethos, values and the very fundamentals that this country was built upon.
Social stability is sacrosanct and synonymous to the success of this country. Thus, it is vital to ensure that these immigrants understand the various cultures and religions and the significance of racial harmony. This would serve as barriers to formation of enclaves among their own kind. I am also hopeful that they, too, will be told to put their problems in perspective and think of the poor and hungry.
I spoke to some of my peers and friends and they generally agreed that Singaporeans must look at the bigger picture of things.
Among them, Khairulanwar Zaini, a 22-year-old undergraduate said, “It is important to see things through a bigger perspective. I think that the government should find ways to address the concerns and assist the poor as well.”
Lecturer, Michael Rebaczonok, in his 40s said, “Their concerns are justified and it happens in every other society that the people will gripe over certain issues. But we have to look at things in perspective and count our blessings because there are people who are still struggling to make a living.”
I don’t envy the huge task facing the government because it is nigh impossible to please everyone all the time.
But having said that, I hope they listen to the people and hear what they have to say because, gripe or not, these complaints could be but mere symptoms of a deeper malaise.
-Taken from Yahoo homepage