When I read news stories such as this, I am filled with pride. It reminds me that we live in a society that is by and large kind and generous. It is also heartening that individuals are stepping up to create and facilitate community spirit. What makes a country truly great to live in is not its gleaming skyscrapers or the world events it hosts but whether or not its inhabitants feel a sense of ownership, belonging and pride. In large part, this is fostered by community ties and shared experiences.
While I applaud the efforts of the government to put Singapore on the world map through hosting events such as the inaugural Youth Olympics, the F1 and most recently, the Trump-Kim Summit, I wonder if too much focus has been placed on outward appearance and too little focus has been placed on making sure that Singaporeans do not feel alienated by the rapid changes in their hometown.
When a country grows very rapidly (such as Singapore has), it is possible that some groups of people fall through the cracks. To what extent has the government and Singaporeans sought to ensure that the fruits of growth are shared equally? By this, I don't mean donating money to the less fortunate, I mean actually taking the effort to understand why these groups are left behind. While it is easy to simply dismiss these people as lazy or unmotivated, that is not really the complete story is it?
As we grew, we became more focused on dividing people than bringing people together. Take for instance the relentless streaming in school - we are so separated that we do not even know that the other side exists! This kind of separation, in turn, creates ivory towers whereby people may live totally parallel lives. That is perhaps one of the reasons why many now consider the government elitist, unable to understand the day to day struggles faced by its people.
In praising the efforts by Singaporeans, Member of Parliament Tin Pei Ling has said:
"While the Government will always play a role, the human touch is needed on the ground and as much as the Government would like to (always play a role), it is good to have these organisations come in."
Obviously, we should all take ownership of our country and play a part in creating unity and togetherness but I disagree with the implication that the government cannot also provide a human touch on the ground. After all isn't it made up of humans too. Why can't the government also have a human touch? Perhaps there is a need for those in government to see themselves more as people that form society and build communities too. They don't suddenly become cold inhuman objects just because they join the government. Perhaps that statement shows a mindset that needs to be adjusted.