Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Singapore First World? Hmm...her social fabric needs work!

I am bothered. I should not be I reckon on the last day of 2008. However this being the last day of 2008, the year of the "thieving rat" if I could place it that way, I am reflective.

Just 3 to 4 weeks ago, I was enjoying my trip with family to Japan: Osaka Universal Studios - Hokkaido (Chitose, Sapporo, Otaru City, Soundkyo Gorge, Lake Akan, Noboribetsu) - Tokyo Disneyland. Challenging tour group itinerary but beautiful memories of the soft pristine snow land and magical tinkles at Otaru, fantastic rides at Universal and Disney, certainly left an indelible mark in our sweet memories. I will leave further elaboration of my trip in my next blogs.

My conclusion from my trip was that Japan is really First World. There is this strong sense of RESPECT in her people - respect for oneself, respect for others. You see the commitment of the Japanese in the basic cleanliness of their environment (Japanese keep their environment and that of their neighbors clean). You see their commitment in the packaging of their gifts and products. Everyone of us received a small chocolate bar from the Musical Box Museum at Otaru. And everyone of the delectable chocolate token was box wrapped with the words "A gift sincerely from our heart". Then there was the mochi (soft rice balls dessert with filling - did I get this right?) which was packed in really nice red box (which could serve up pretty well to hold trinkets). You be the judge (see below image).

The commitment and the most importantly the respect Japanese have for themselves and others around them are certainly world-class benchmarks for us to look up to. I would like to walk around in clean parks, clean elevators, clean toilets.

1 week ago, earth beckoned and I was brought back down to the harsh reality back home here in our motherland Singapore. I was appalled to find a cigarette butt lying on the inner bay window ledge of my apartment.

A few days ago, I found a plastic packet of biscuits lying just under the mailboxes, the biscuits almost fully consumed. Today, to top it all up, I see a presumably used cotton bud lying in the elevator.

Yes, we are a relatively young nation, independence only having come in 1965. However we have taken huge strides in developing our nation economically, with sound financial and infrastructural platforms and industries for current and future growth. And we should and I suspect which is the grand scheme of things strive to be and reflect ourselves, our environment to be in the class of First World countries. Yet the observations I made over last couple of weeks (and well over the last couple of years as well all around Singapore), we certainly have our work cut out for us to first improve the basic elements in our social fabric – that elusive attitudinal element called RESPECT, before we could call ourselves FIRST WORLD.

Nelson Wee, 31-DEC 2008

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