This must be the time the government loosen up its grip on all aspect of society and trust its own people that they too want a better Singapore for all and are capable of making significant contributions.
A dark cloud is looming in our horizon as we celebrate the nation's birthday . In the many years of changes, how many of them can really be considered progress.
Today, even our Minister Mentor (MM) seems to have grown apart from us, predicting the next 5-10 years as the most promising in Singapore's history, when almost every economic predicts otherwise. He must know something that we don't and as usual, we will never really know anything until he deems it time to share with us.
An adult of 43 can learn to reason and make decisions for himself, why are Singaporeans today still being kept in the dark of decisions and rationales by its leaders?
Why does MM not share the good news of how he arrived at this conclusion while Singaporeans writhe under the oppressive economic conditions?
43 years we listened to our leaders, trusting in them to lift us out of trouble. They were good in managing crisis. The SARS episode saw our health professionals struggle with a deadly virus, many were sacrificed in the process but the calamity was averted. Yet in all the self congratulatory back patting, how many families had to grieve over their loved ones who were lost in the early days of the disease's onset. Had we had more information, would not more lives be saved?
The lack of facilities in our public hospitals meant that patients were put up in temporary tents when the number of patients started swelling, if more information were available would our response not be more efficient and effective? Why are our workers not empowered? Why are we always kept in the dark?
CEOs today would never claim to be able to predict the future, 5 year plans are no longer what they were before, set out as guides, a good leader now build a team that empowers every staff to make decisions within their scope of work, information about risks and opportunities are conveyed down the line to make sure everyone knows which direction we are heading.
In the new economy where changes become more and more unpredictable, the flexibility and determination to go through together is what would make a difference between success and failure. The captain of our ships are not telling us what is happening, we are told just to row, like soldiers below the decks of an ancient battleship. How can we give our all if we don't even know where we are going?
The difference between the leader and the follower in the new economy is no longer as vast as what existed in the past. Then leaders were thought to have foresight and could navigate an organization in the long run. Now such visions are not as clear and innovative ideas from all within an organization is the fuel that drives the new engines of growth.
Knowledge workers today broker ideas assess decisions and move as one to fight the competition, time is of essence and each worker contributes their expertise. The world today is more complex than before and no single person is capable of managing the rapid and incessant changes that the environment throws at him, the leader must gain the trust of its people otherwise the workers would just leave to join a more enlightened leader or organization.
Brain drain is very real problem today as more Singaporeans decide they are not made to feel like part of the family and leaves to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
The economy centred mindset of our past leaders have made decisions based on economics to justify their agenda, everything is subsumed under the call to sacrifice for the economy. In the end, we become more materialistic and look at life based on how much we would get in return.
But is this how we would like our children to live, as materialistic go getters? And our leaders ask us why we never develop a Singapore culture. They think by wearing orchid printed clothes we would feel more Singaporean. This cannot be the legacy we leave for our children, it has to be more and now is the time to make a difference.
We have grown these 43 years to feel confident of ourselves, the number of graduates have increased over just one generation and we are envied by many in the region that they send their very best to our schools. But why do we not make use of all the recent graduates' brain power? Why are they stuck in their own profession, unable to contribute to the intellectual and cultural landscape of their own country?
This must be the time the government loosen up its grip on all aspect of society and trust its own people that they too want a better Singapore for all and are capable of making significant contributions. We just need space to share, learn and grow.
As we reconsider the priorities of our lives and what we hope to achieve,the government should listen and nurture civil society instead of feeling threatened and stamp on every initiative that does not seem economically viable.
Let a thousand flowers bloom for these very blossoms are what defines us as Singapore - A true garden city full of ideas, compassion for its fellow citizens and passion for the future.
Sources and Relevant Links:
Think Centre National Day Message 2008 08 August 2008
Today Singapore: Some 3.4 per cent of children are malnourished06 July 2008
Think Centre National Day Message 2007 07 August 2007
Think Centre Think Centre: Labour Day Message 2007
Think Centre Is Singapore an inclusive society 06 December 2006
Think Centre Think Centre National Day Message 2006