Friday, 18 October 2019

Forum: Pressure cooker society results in bad behaviour - with responses

1) Forum: Pressure cooker society results in bad behaviour

Mr Lim Ang-Yong rightly views Professor Tommy Koh's lament about the behaviour of Singaporeans as "the growing and expressed intolerance of a few of our retired elitists, who are often detached from the changing realities of everyday living complexities in crowded Singapore" (No need to put down those from Third World, ST Online, Oct 12).

In a pressure cooker society like Singapore, many Housing Board flat dwellers who commute by public transport and eat in hawker centres face annoyances of all sorts on a daily basis that encourage us to be selfish and rude.

Walking up to MRT stations or eating in hawker centres, we are interrupted by fund-raisers, promoters and distributors of fliers of all sorts, whom we have little choice but to rudely ignore. We cannot be expected to smile back, listen to their story and politely refuse.

We compete for breathing space along narrow MRT escalators, in crowded MRT trains and in supermarket aisles. We cannot relax on footpaths for fear of injury by a personal mobility device user. Any vacant seat, standing space or short queue is a luxury. We have to deal with noise and dust from upgrading works which are endless and omnipresent in Singapore. Back home, some have to contend with smells and noise from inconsiderate neighbours.

Our kiasu attitude is most evident in the bumper-to-bumper traffic at immigration checkpoints. There is little room for kindness to let another driver cut into your lane.

When we are uptight and agitated constantly, we build defence mechanisms to protect our sanity.

Before we become overly judgmental of Singaporeans, we should be gracious and understanding as to why many have descended to becoming selfish and uncaring.

Seto Hann Hoi (Dr)


2) Forum: Learn from the Japanese

Dr Seto Hann Hoi, in his Forum letter, contends that the unrelenting pressures of urbanised and competitive living in a compact environment contributes to selfish and uncaring behaviour (Pressure cooker society results in bad behaviour, Oct 15).

If so, why is Japanese society - even in ultra-urbanised parts like Tokyo's Shinjuku Station - markedly disciplined and civil?

During one recession, I witnessed homeless salarymen staying overnight in the station's underground premises.

However, there was no trace of their presence, no litter, no rubbish whatsoever, the next morning when train services commenced.

Japanese discipline regarding civility, in terms of noise, public hygiene, service and green consciousness, is to be envied.

Excuses for incivility, such as competition, cramped co-existing, joblessness and so on are seen as dishonourable and cowardly in Japan.

Japan enjoys an exceptional ethos.

It may be unfair to compare our nascent civility to their centuries of evolution and refinement. But to become gracious and understanding, who better to emulate?

Anthony Lee Mui Yu


3) Forum: Pressure cooker life is one's own doing

The issues and problems people face daily in society could lead to them living in a pressure cooker society - I will agree with that but I do not think all these should be a reason for bad behaviour (Pressure cooker society results in bad behaviour, Oct 15).

The danger of accepting such reasons for our bad behaviour is that it will become a norm, which could lead to us destroying our own society and country.

With technology advancements and globalisation, it is inevitable that we live in a very fast-moving and competitive world. Everyone would try to get ahead of one another. If we choose to join the race in getting the latest gadgets, a bigger car or house, choose the most luxurious travel, eat at the best restaurant in town, we create pressure on ourselves unknowingly.

We choose the kind of lifestyle and make decisions for our own life, and no one should be blamed for the outcome.

Being tolerant and gracious towards others will set us apart from the rest of the world and could even be a competitive advantage. So let's not use our personal challenges to determine how we treat others, and together we can build a more gracious society.

Steven Lim