Former chairman of the National Environment Agency, Mr Liat Teng Lit had once reportedly expressed that Singapore was not a clean city, but rather, that it was a “cleaned city.” Whether or not Liat actually said those words, that sentiment certainly does strike a chord.
Do Singaporeans really take ownership for the things that happen around them or for their surroundings? Do they rely on the various state agencies to sort things out as the first port of call or do they take some initiative?
Looking at how local blogger Xiaxue has taken to social media to complain about the various issues that have gone wrong in her estate, one could be forgiven for thinking that instead of first trying to resolve the issues ourselves, we immediately think of how someone else can instantaneously do it for us.
Xiaxue has vented her frustrations on the “unsightly and unsanitary” state of her housing block (which happens to be in the Workers’ Party (WP) held Aljunied Group Representative Constituency (GRC)) on social media despite the fact that we all know that the coronavirus has led to certain works and repairs having come to a halt. Perhaps the controversial influencer does not understand what “global pandemic” means or perhaps, she displays the entitled attitude that things must be done as and when she wants it – never mind the pandemic, that some Singaporeans have.
To be clear, this is not intended to specifically knock Xiaxue. Rather, her complaints are indicative of a certain type of attitude that other Singaporeans also possess.
Her attitude however stands in marked contrast to He Ting Ru (He) and Raeesah Khan (Khan) of the WP who in Parliament have highlighted our lack of ownership in our surroundings.
Khan raised our over dependence on others to keep our environment clean which is a valid point.
“The question of who will take ownership for good quality of public health comes to mind……During the pandemic, we saw how dependent we are on foreign labour as a country to keep Singapore clean. Is this model sustainable? What happens if there is another situation that arises where we don’t have access to them?”
He was reflective:
“Are we truly a nation where individuals take responsibility to ensure that our environment is clean and hygienic or do we instead see it as someone else’s problem? Do we make messes in our living environments and expect cleaners to do their jobs and clear up after us?”
It is certainly a very thought provoking question and one that requires some deep soul searching. We have been described as politically apathetic. But are we also apathetic about our surroundings? Are we always waiting around to be helped or are we willing to help ourselves?
Xiaxue’s perceived entitlement or the WP’s model of ownership?