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Good social behaviour must be taught early in life

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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.

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