Monday, March 17, 2014

Massive Compassion Deficit

Thanks to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the world knows we are the most expensive city in the world. Now the BBCNewsmagazine is helping to broadcast that Singapore has a massive compassion deficit. As if to add credence to the BBC article, Lee Hsien Loong prefaced his comment on the observations with "We needn’t accept everything the writer says".

Freelance writer Charlotte Ashton, who moved to Singapore last year, wrote about her experience on an MRT train when she was pregnant:
"One morning the nausea finally got the better of me just as I had stepped onto a packed train. Worried I was going to faint, I crouched to the floor, holding my head in my hands.
And so I remained, completely ignored, for the full 15 minutes it took to reach my station. Nobody offered me seat or asked me if I was okay."

Couple of years ago, while walking the busy underground linkway between Liat Towers and CK Tang, a young mother with a baby in arms was trying to persuade her older child to get on her own two feet so mom could carry the collapsible stroller up the stairway. The 2-3 year old girl would not surrender her ride. I approached the little one and told her I could carry the stroller up the flight of steps, but she had to hold on real tight so she won't fall out. She nodded in assent, and mom and kids made the ascend safely. But there was no word of thanks, just a blank look which made me wonder. Back in the office, colleagues lambasted me for being kay-poh. What if she had reported me for kidnapping?

A decade earlier, I was at a bus-stop in Australia when another mother with a pram was in queue. She maneuvered the pram to the entrance of the bus, picked up her baby, and went into the bus. Without a single  word exchanged, the driver got out, and carried the pram to the back of the bus where there were brackets to hang the pram. When she reached her destination, she got off the bus and waited at the curb.  Said driver went to the back of the bus to retrieve the pram, so mom and baby could continue their journey. "Thanks, mate," she managed.

Ms Ashton's Singaporean friend - who chose to remain anonymous because "in this authoritarian democracy, the majority of people are very reluctant to go on the record with anything remotely negative about Singapore" - enlightened her about the difference between Singapore and other countries:
"The problem here is that we measure everything in dollar bills - personal identity, self-respect, happiness, your sense of worth - it is all linked to how much money you have. But only the top few percent earn serious cash - so everyone else feels worthless and apathetic."

36 comments:

  1. Singapore is well on her way to becoming a zombie nation. What is a zombie . A living dead entity with no conciousness enslaved for the rest of its existence for the benefit of its masters. Sounds familiar ?

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  2. I would bet 70% of the passengers in the MRT are new citizens or foreigners like her lah. Why put the blame on true blue sinkies.

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    1. I agree. Having recently returned to Singapore, I have counted many times the faces of people on board the MRT. 4/7 are not easily identifiable as non-local. And any foreign writers should remember, close to 40% of our city island are now occupied by foreigners. So the fingers could fall largely into either camps. And if you look back at our great Singaporean's record when we were 3.5m strong, I don't hear that kinds of accusation and complaints before. So the truth is pretty telling.

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    2. That's right! 6 out of every 10 are foreigners in our land, a fact which perhaps the BBC lady failed to appreciate but definitely Pinkie and his men should know, unless they are still seriously out of touch. Regardless, Pinkie seems to be quick to whack true-blue Singaporeans; let it be then for at least 39% of us have given up on him and hopefully more will turn away from the white.

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    3. Even while cycling on the park, I was shooed to the side to make way for the Ang Mos speeding on their bikes like they own the path.

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    4. The blangadeshi likes to lean on grab poles when they could not find a seat. They don't care if their sweaty bodies come into contact or press against your hand and forces you to give up grabbing the pole.

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    5. The PRCs even worse. They talk loudly and the girls would fight with our senior for the reserve seats.

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    6. I have seen an Ah Neh trying to hold on to the information panel above the MRT door in a crowded train. When he left, I could see his black finger prints all over the ceiling.

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  3. The MSM's big coverage of ex-MP Dr. Michael Lim's crude imitation European villa is surely a sign of the times in this little red dot. The PM would do well to read his Minister Lim Chuan Jin's recent Facebook posting about his wife's travails travelling the MRT before making his comment. As one intellectual commented years ago, nowadays nothing counts unless it can be counted.

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  4. The failure of our society and the government, yet our leaders have refused to acknowledge it. Quite sad to also see social campaigns, if any, are politically motivated....

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  5. I have my fair share of rude angmos, particularly the business district types, who refuse to bulge during the morning peak hour train rides. Charlotte might want to reflect on recent bad expat's behaviour in our country.

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  6. Look...

    Before any self pawning idiots bash Singapore...

    who MADE Singapore into this kind of society...it is the PAP Gov't okay..;.not the Singapore Gov't...

    So all those idiots out there get their farking facts right before bashing Singapore and its peoples.

    ZZzzzzz

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  7. Few months ago, I was at forum galleria. I held onto the lift when I saw an expat mum with her toddler in the pram heading towards us. She took her time to park herself nicely before I hit the button. There was no thank you or face contact or even a nod. It is as if they have the right/entitlement of way.

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    1. Same experience last month at City Square but ah neh couple with kid in pram. No smile, no thank you, no eye contact.

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    2. Maybe Ms Ashton is saying that since the papigs have the red carpet out for the foreigner, then they have a God-given right to sit down as long as they show a tummy? Look, all I am saying is pregnant women everywhere face the chances of not being treated fairly, in the red dot or in UK, its basic genetics, basic probability, red dot will not have a higher chance of getting more assholes than the UK. I have seen equal number of kind and unkind folks from all over the world, here and overseas. But sometimes, the foreigners after being repeatedly given the impression that they are "talents", could end up believing they are really living in Shanghai of the 1920s, where the locals are dogs not welcome in parks?? Teo, am I making sense to you?

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  8. Why should Singaporeans have compassion these days for anyone? Besides, you are likely looking at the office/PMET stenching poor crowds (as Anton would call it) who have to face the daily competition with the foreigners who are here to compete and take their jobs. Did they have compassion to hire and promote core locals for key jobs? Or are they forming their own tribes and territory of allies with their own kinds? When you have that kind of unspoken, deep-seated mistrusts, why should anyone show any compassion? It is a cut throat world out there. Especially when your politicians say Competition is good~!!

    We want more writers like her and others to keep us on the #1 Top most expensive & less compassionate & unhappiest nation on world. That's the PAP's new way. There is no tricky situation..just tricks aplenty up MOM's many sleeves.

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  9. aiyoh..why worry about compassion deficit when you have reserves surpluses....that's what really counts lah...

    when you got moolah, you can show compassion with moolah or subsidies or rebates etc..

    but when you have no moolah..you cannot show compassion with kindness or dignity or sincerity etc..

    can you measure the latter? can you put food on table? can you measure happiness from these? Not according to PAP's playbook lah...

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  10. How come not nbr 13/17/2014 2:22 PM

    Tattler, you forgot about the Economist article which also ranked SG as 5th place for crony-capitalism index....huat ah!!!!

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  11. Questions -

    1) Did the writer stand next to the priority seat on the trains?
    2) Did the writer care to politely ask for seat/help?
    3) Is the writer's pregnancy bump obvious enough for people not to mistake it as merely 'obese/overweight'?
    4) Did the writer encounter this situation enough times (say 6 our of 10) to warrant such broad brushing remark?

    It could just be her unlucky day on that instance.

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    1. Hello, did you even read what she write: she was crouched (i.e. squatting) for 15 minutes. Clearly a sign of serious discomfort. If you see your family or friend in this position, you would automatically ask if she is ill.

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  12. I disagree. Most Singaporeans are kind and helpful.

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    1. The fact that the terms aunty and uncle are used in such a tone as code for you old bastards, just proves you are wrong. In countries where children are taught manners the terms are madam or sir. Aunties and uncles are your relatives or people who are actually respected.

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  13. Misery index goes up while Graciousness index falls. Quite logical isn't it? How come Tan Chuan Jin & Lawrence Wong never tell his Party cadre to reflect upon themselves when the Crony Capitalism Index has shot up.

    Just look at our glorious Marina Bay district, that is beautiful right? Why care about the sofware as long as hardware infrastructure is shining outside for everyone to see. Tio bo?

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    1. Tio bo hoo hoo, Rot starts from the head.

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  14. I recall Singa the Lion had quit some time ago.

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    1. The lion like everything that glitters in Singapore is nothing but a myth. Fools gold. No lions in Singapore - not in the past, not now, not ever.

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  15. Compassion has to start from our leaders to show us a good example. But our PAP leaders for their own selfish interests do not even feel shameful when they warned us to repent & upgrading will be last in queue if we don't vote for them.

    But for themselves no money no talk, million dollar salaries & bonuses first above everything else. Then followed manipulation in MSM, PA politics, S$2 AIM companies, damn cheap source of CPF funds to benefit themselves, etc. So how not to think of our own self interests first when we have leaders with that kind of mindset ?

    Talk of graciousness & compassion our PAP leaders should first stop abusing all those kind of shit & nonsense !

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  16. Simple but precise words. Its all about numbers. The non-humane behaviour and the deaf-ears policy are just ripple effects originating from our policy makers. As policy makers don't listen to ppl, ppl too are less aware of others. As policy makers only think of numbers and themselves, the population simply tend to follow.
    Should they ask of the ppl and not apply of themselves ?

    Lost TOUCH to SOCIETY.

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  17. "We needn’t accept everything the writer says".
    The emperor indeed has no clothes.

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  18. This is rightly an issue between the writer Charlotte Ashton and the Prime Millionaire LHL.
    This has nothing to do with Singaporeans.

    It's up to PM Lee to make Singapore more welcoming to foreigners ... since he needs another 1.5 million foreigners.
    Singaporeans should not bother ... unless we want to support PM Lee's alien policies.

    Singaporeans;
    Please keep your focus on our war of independence from the PAPigs in GE 2016.

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    1. The prime minister has already replied to Ashton:
      "We needn’t accept everything the writer says".

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    2. Must be a "voice in the wilderness"
      Philip Yeo

      "background noise"
      Ex President Nathan

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    3. Who?

      The writer or PM Lee?

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    4. What else do you expect the pee mam to say.

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  19. Dear Ms Charlotte Ashton
    My pregnant 3rd generation Singaporean wife was forced out of her corporate position by a gang of Indian IT professionals from India.
    This happened in Singapore.

    She got no sympathy from Foreigners like you.
    No sympathy from NTUC.
    And no sympathy from the PAP government.

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  20. I have thought about the question of why Singaporeans can be seen as miserable. The following is my answer.

    http://thethinktankguideforsmarterliving.blogspot.sg/2014/03/singapore-misery-city-lack-of-social.html

    Charlotte Ashton was using her own personal experience to make sense of Singapore’s ranking on the global survey that found it to be the least positive country in the world. Many people did not realize this and assumed she was using her single experience to judge the whole of Singapore.

    Even though Charlotte Ashton’s article from the BBC is not a big survey of Singapore’s level of graciousness, her experience on a public train that eventually led to her feeling unhappy is a cause for consideration for all locals.

    I think that the ability to practice graciousness in public is based largely on one’s ability to be socially-responsive, empathetic and courageous(ability to adapt well in uncommon situations). These qualities would allow a person to react adequately to those in need.

    Although I do feel that many Singaporeans do possess empathy, I feel that the qualities of social-responsiveness and courage are under-developed in most, which has led to them being perceived as being indifferent and uncaring in public.

    Native Singaporeans are commonly brought up in very strict Asian households that instilled subservience from a young age. This, as well as Singapore’s rote-learning education system, do not provide much encouragement for us to think on our own. The added pressure to be intensely competitive in terms of studies and work has made us even less focused in such a crucial skill.

    The overall lack of social-responsiveness has many times in the past gotten the general youth in Singapore to be perceived as being politically apathetic.

    Professional medical staff in Singapore are well-trained to take charge of demanding medical-related situations so they stand ready to help those in need. I am quite certain if such medical staff were present during Ms Ashton’s plight on her train, they would have immediately assisted her without a thought.

    Regarding my thoughts on the train passengers who did not assist Ms Ashton, it is difficult to know if they were actually being indifferent and uncaring towards her plight. Their lack of social-responsiveness and lack of courage are also factors needed to be considered.

    The qualities of social-responsiveness, empathy and courage are much needed to overcome adversity to create liberation that can make one feel happy. The lack of such qualities could keep one stagnant in misery.

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