There have been a number of blogs dismissing the forum letter by Lim Sing Tat telling Singaporeans to “stop acting like petulant children” and put forth suggestions instead of merely complaining.
The common message is that it is not the responsibility of the people to come up with solutions when the government and the PAP is paid to do this. Or that suggestions have been given but the government does not listen.
Now, it is true that if you see yourself as a paying customer, then there is no obligation on you to come up with solutions. Please, go ahead and “bang table” to demand better service.
But I firmly belong to the “Lim Sing Tat” camp. Because I do not see myself as a paying customer of Singapore’s government. I see myself as a citizen of Singapore. Just because the govt is paid to serve me, doesn’t mean that I have absolved myself of the responsibility to contribute to Singapore’s well being.
Being a citizen comes with rights and responsibilities. You have the right to a safe and secure home. You have the right to a HDB flat and afforable healthcare and education. But you also have a responsibility to pay your taxes, defend your country, and look out for your fellow citizens. Hence we have a responsibility not just to complain, but also to constructively offer solutions, and to accept that sometimes, the solutions that we champion may not actually work.
If everyone in Singapore saw themselves as a “customer” of Singapore, then this is not only selfish, it is also dangerous. A democracy requires everyone to respect that different people have different views, and a compromise is needed to accommodate everyone. If we only insist on complaining, how can there be compromise? I will not want to stay in a country where the people behave this way, nor will I want to bring up my kids in this kind of place. Worse still, I will fear that my children will be infected by this “crutch mentality” of being a “customer”. I want my kids to be constructive people in their community, not loud complainers who simply bang table for better service. I want my kids to recognise that they are not always right all the time, and that we should tap on the wisdom of others as well.
So I ask you, my dear reader. Are you a customer of Singapore? Or a citizen of Singapore?