Saturday, March 22, 2014

Charlotte Ashton and Singapore the Misery City — The Lack of Social-Responsiveness and Courage to Those in Need

(The following is a letter I sent to TODAY newspaper in regards to Charlotte Ashton's BBC article on Singapore. Either it did not get published because the editor rejected it or they did not receive it. I remember there was no confirmation message sent back to me after I sent the email)

The Lack of Social-Responsiveness and Courage to Those in Need

I refer to the March 17th article, "BBC article a good reminder to be more gracious, says PM Lee".

I agree with the Prime Minister that Singaporeans can still do much better in terms of being considerate in public.

Charlotte Ashton was using her own personal experience to make sense of Singapore's ranking on the global survey that found it to be the least positive country in the world. Many people did not realize this and assumed she was using her single experience to judge the whole of Singapore.

Even though Charlotte Ashton's article from the BBC is not a big survey of Singapore's level of graciousness, her experience on a public train that eventually led to her feeling unhappy is a cause for 
consideration for all locals.


I think that the ability to practice graciousness in public is based largely on one's ability to be socially-responsive, empathetic and courageous(ability to adapt well in uncommon situations). These qualities would allow a person to react adequately to those in need.


Although I do feel that many Singaporeans do possess empathy, I feel that the qualities of social-responsiveness and courage are under-developed in most, which has led to them being perceived
as indifferent and uncaring in public.

Native Singaporeans are commonly brought up in very strict Asian households that instilled subservience from a young age. This, as well as Singapore's rote-learning education system, do not provide much encouragement for us to think on our own. The added pressure to be intensely competitive in terms of studies and work has made us even less focused in such a crucial skill.

The overall lack of social-responsiveness has many times in the past gotten the general youth in Singapore to be perceived as being politically apathetic.


Professional medical staff in Singapore are well-trained to take charge of demanding medical-related situations so they stand ready to help those in need. I am quite certain if such medical staff were present during Ms Ashton's plight on her train, they would have immediately assisted her without a thought.


Regarding my thoughts on the train passengers who did not assist Ms Ashton, it is difficult to know if they were actually being indifferent and uncaring towards her plight. Their lack of social-responsiveness and lack of courage are also factors needed to be considered.


The qualities of social-responsiveness, empathy and courage are much needed to overcome adversity to create liberation that can make one feel happy. The lack of such qualities could keep one stagnant in misery.