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Professor Tommy Koh's remark that Singapore is a First World country with Third World people is extremely insensitive and insulting to citizens of Third World countries (Singaporeans can be more civic-minded, considerate, says Prof Koh, Oct 2). The examples (not caring for the environment, inconsiderate driving, and so on) of poor civic-mindedness cited by Prof Koh are not typical of citizens of Third World countries. I lived in several First World countries many years ago and I can testify that such poor civic-mindedness was often displayed by the people there as well. No country can be completely without citizens who behave less than perfectly. Let me cite an instance of a low-income Singaporean who displayed a "First World" spirit of civic-mindedness. I once suffered a tyre puncture on a busy main road in Singapore. I moved my car to the roadside and struggled to change the tyre myself. A couple of minutes later, a young lorry driver stopped his vehicle next to mine and changed the tyre for me with his equipment. I thanked him profusely and offered him $10 for "coffee". He politely refused. We shook hands and he drove away smiling. Do you think I could have received such assistance in London, Paris or New York? 안전놀이터 Criticise Singaporeans' bad behaviour by all means. Show us how we can improve. But don't display arrogance by labelling poor civic-mindedness as Third World behaviour, especially when most Asean members are technically Third World countries. I found the report, "Tommy Koh laments that Singapore is a First World country with Third World citizens", troubling (ST Online, Oct 1). We often fail to make a distinction between Singaporeans and the people living in Singapore. I do agree that too many Singaporeans are not civic-minded. However, even if all Singaporeans in Singapore are uncivilised louts, there are only 3.5 million out of a population of 5.7 million, of which 22,550 were made citizens only last year. Another 530,000 are permanent residents (PRs), of which 32,710 became PRs last year (Singapore population grows at a slower pace to reach 5.7m, Sept 26). I make this distinction not to absolve long-term Singaporeans and blame bad behaviour on new or non-Singaporeans. The distinction is necessary, though, as any programme that seeks to improve standards in a country takes many decades before there is any effect, if at all. Take the example of the Singapore Kindness Movement. It was launched in 1997 to execute public education programmes aimed at cultivating kindness and graciousness in Singapore society in response to then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's call to Singaporeans to develop into a more caring and gracious society. After 22 years, any change in the behaviour of Singaporeans who have lived here throughout is modest. We cannot then realistically expect the benefits of whatever programmes we put in place to "upgrade" Singaporeans to filter through to those who have newly arrived in Singapore instantaneously. Furthermore, there are another 1.7 million people in Singapore who are non-residents. We cannot reasonably expect too many of them to be committed to, or even consider making Singapore a more gracious society. Their focus is eking out a living to feed their families back home.
Veteran diplomats Kishore Mahbubani and Tommy Koh have had their say on the topic of Singaporeans in our First World country behaving like Third World people (Why are Singaporeans a Third World people?, Oct 6). Some possible reasons were offered and few people in Singapore would disagree with the observations. Human behaviour essentially depends on three factors: the instincts a person was born with, his upbringing and education, and imposition of the law. Some of the obvious biological instincts we have inherited through evolution are self-preservation, parent-child bonding, herd instinct, and compulsion to propagate. They are the foundation of the formation of families, tribes and nations, and, indirectly, of racism. 카지노사이트주소 But all our biological instincts are subject to modification, suppression or enhancement by the process of conditioning. This is the process by which our childhood upbringing and school education shape our minds. Our moral and ethical values, religious and political beliefs, social behaviour, sibling and child-parent relationships come as a result of this conditioning and they largely decide our behaviour in adulthood. Once a form of conditioning has taken hold of our mind, it is extremely difficult to change. The third factor in human behaviour is imposition of the law. We observe laws not because we are truly benevolent but because breaking the law can have harmful consequences. Law imposition is the final line of defence against bad social behaviour. To improve the social behaviour of people in Singapore, and in all other countries, early conditioning is the answer. That the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is taking steps to reduce the proportion of employment contracts that are cancelled prematurely is encouraging (MOM to help employers retain maids for full length of contract, Oct 7). Maid agency fees are expensive and yet many agencies do little to verify the credibility of a foreign domestic worker's background, capability and integrity. Since the departure of our wonderful long-term helper of nine years, my family has had the most unpleasant experiences both with unscrupulous agencies and with unqualified, dishonest helpers over the past year. The current process of interviews at agencies is most unsatisfactory. The employer has to sit in a cramped space, surrounded by helpers, and interview the shortlisted person with no privacy. One has no way of assessing the skills the helper says she has, because many do not bring references and agents do not provide the phone numbers of past employers. One also cannot do a test run, such as getting the helper to cook a meal or to do any of the things she says she can. The agencies claim that they are not responsible for background checks or the integrity of the helper as they are just a conduit for a job match. Often, when the helper starts work, one realises that she has marginal skills or that her claims were exaggerated and she really is not suitable. The employer is then either stuck with the sub-optimal choice or returns the helper to the agency. In the case of our disappointing hires, we have never been provided with a suitable alternative choice of helper, nor were we ever returned the service fee. We have been stonewalled by an agency and even threatened with false allegations. It is time that the MOM held agencies accountable for the competencies advertised of any helper. There needs to be better ownership of background checks and behaviour standards from agencies.
It is not uncommon to see a number of senior citizens serving in physically intensive jobs such as facility cleaners, dish cleaners or cardboard collectors. Some of these seniors appear to be frail or not in good physical shape, and some are limp or severely hunched over. This occurs despite the Government having various schemes that help low-income seniors, which are very beneficial. A team of university researchers from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, published research in May that showed that the budget required to meet basic standards of living is about $1,379 a month for a single man or woman aged 65 and above (Study finds older singles need $1,379 per month, May 23). ComCare provides long-term assistance of about $600 a month, for a single person. For a senior on ComCare long-term assistance, there is also the Silver Support Scheme which provides a payout of $300 every quarter. 바카라 It may be possible that these seniors work because they wish to. But there are those who work as cleaners despite physical challenges perhaps because they are not able to cope or they do not know how to apply for the available schemes. Perhaps the authorities could research this matter more deeply. This is so that needy seniors in Singapore who are frail or in poor health may be adequately served by social assistance schemes.
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