4 Mar 2012

Singaporean Values

FINALLY! After enduring for one extra year, I'm free from the burden of Mandarin! Most would expect that from here on I'll completely segregate myself from the language because I hate it so much. On the contrary, now I get to view the language as something of more value other than a way to fulfil prerequisites for university admission. This need not be the end of the relationship, but the improvement of one!

Meanwhile I recently read about an interesting survey that Straits Times conducted; about 500 people in Singapore were surveyed on how they prioritise personal values out of a list of 20. Results showed that honesty came out on top, followed by kindness, gratitude, fairness, forgiveness and empathy. At the bottom were curiosity, appreciation of beauty and excellence, creativity, spirituality, and courage. I don't really remember what were the other values in between, I should check later...

Granted that this survey may not be the best way to gauge Singaporeans' character, or the effectiveness of certain educational policies and projects, but it does give some idea of it. From what I see in the top group it seems that moral education has been kinda effective, seeing how these values can be utilised in most interpersonal interactions, from sportsmanship to friendship to workplace relationships, and (especially relevant in Singapore) interactions with foreigners; knowing these values helps you to decide what's the best way to interact with others which you know would benefit both ways.

Seeing the bottom group, however, does raise a bit of concern for me. These values are not necessarily essential for the common man in Singapore, so it should be natural for less priority to be placed on such values. But these set of values, in my opinion, will have growing importance in this new age. Sure we may appear to be prosperous and fortunate in material aspects compared to some neighbouring countries/states (ignoring the income disparity), but I think Singapore's somewhat lacking in attempts to strive for non-material wealth, and we don't have as much risk-takers today compared to newly-independent Singapore a few decades back. We're still pretty conservative towards what we see as controversial issues, that other places like the USA or Britain can openly discuss without intervention or censorship by the government.

I guess what I'm saying is that after Singapore has dealt with achieving sufficiently equal and abundant material wealth, or at least reduced the income disparity to an acceptable level, the next step is to focus more on the bottom values. Not that we're ALL totally uninspired people who get stuck in the comfort zone, but there is room for improvement; we can raise ourselves to match other developed countries in these aspects. More open-mindedness towards debate-igniting issues, more appreciation of arts and culture, more brilliant idea generators being born from the newer generations... that's what I consider to be essential in the age where technology and globalisation continue to extend their outreach.

Easier said than done though. Most of us have already been influenced towards the mindset of earning big and attaining material wealth. Having so many shopping centres and even a popular retail haunt in Orchard reinforces that idea.We've pretty much linked the idea of contentment with having money and other nice tangible things.

So when would a paradigm shift towards non-material fulfilment occur? Who knows.
Speaking of "paradigm shift", the ending of Final Fantasy XIII-2 was such an odd cliffhanger. How in the world is the storyline going to be truly resolved in a DLC???