Blindly following government is not being responsible for Singapore’s future

I refer to the 30 May 2014 Straits Times letter “Singaporeans responsible for building better future” by Ms Faith Connie Tham.

Ms Tham is sad that Singaporeans feel the government is not doing a good job and encourages those who are not happy to travel abroad to experience high inflation, rampant crime and dirty streets in order to see the government in a different light.

• Ms Tham, Singaporeans don’t have to go overseas to experience high inflation, we already are experiencing high inflation

• Ms Tham should specify where abroad to travel to lest Singaporeans end up going to Denmark, Australia, Finland, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand, Canada and the United States and feeling even more unhappy.

• If low crime and clean streets is all that we need to be happy, what are we pushing for ever higher GDP for? What are we growing at all costs for? What we paying million dollar minister salaries for?

Ms Tham reminds us that our low crime rate and clean, efficient public transport are what people in other countries pray for that we should not take for granted. But Hong Kong, Japan and most First World nations have low crime rates and efficient public transport. These are part and parcel of what constitutes First World living that First World citizens expect as a minimum. Only Third World citizens don’t expect First World comforts. Is Ms Tham suggesting Singaporeans are merely Third World citizens deserving only of Third World living who should be grateful to be living in First World Singapore?

Ms Tham asserts that it is our responsibility to work for what we want regardless of high property prices and high cost of living. Ms Tham doesn’t seem to think that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure affordable housing and low cost of living. Ms Tham should realize that the government obtained the bulk of Singapore’s land for as cheaply as $1 per square foot from the people. It is for this reason that the government is obliged to provide affordable housing to Singaporeans. It is also the prerogative of responsible governments all over the world to keep costs of living low. Ms Tham should not absolve the government from fulfilling its basic duty to the people which is the reason why people vote them in the first place.

Ms Tham refers to training grants given to firms to develop employees, funds to encourage people to further their education, and grants to help entrepreneurs start businesses as examples of ways the government is helping citizens. Ms Tham should realize training grants don’t help Singaporeans who are laid off as the grants are given to firms, not to Singaporeans. Ms Tham should understand that any society will have more workers than entrepreneurs because not everyone can be an entrepreneur so again the entrepreneurship grant is useless to many Singaporeans laid off.

Ms Tham urges us to embrace the future with a positive mindset and reminds us of our responsibility to build a better future. But pointing out mistakes and pushing for the country to go in the right direction isn’t negative. Similarly, blindly following the government and condoning its wrong path isn’t positive either. Our responsibility to Singapore’s future cannot be to sit back and take whatever the government throws at us, good or bad.

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