Lack of civic mindedness in Singapore. And in Malaysia…



In Malaysia: Always throw litter where it is prohibited…



In Singapore: Rubbish, rubbish everywhere at Punggol marina.



The Straits Times @STcom

Forum: Lack of civic-mindedness apparent in Singapore

zzzccc.jpgLitter on the floor of the void deck at Block 205 Toa Payoh North.PHOTO: ST FILE

I share the sentiments expressed by Professor Tommy Koh in his commentary (Five tests of a truly First World people, Dec 21).

Littering and a lack of graciousness are just two reasons why I am suffering from a reverse culture shock after 12 years of living in Taiwan.

Cigarette butts, used tissue, paper cups, plastic bottles and plastic bags are strewn all over the streets and grass patches of Singapore, even when bins are in sight.

I had to lodge several reports with the National Environment Agency about dozens of cigarette butts littered around a bench at a covered walkway before the situation improved.

The Taipei MRT has a very effective poster on board the trains encouraging passengers to speak softly, keep their conversations short and send text messages instead. This results in peaceful and comfortable rides.

In Singapore, I cannot leave home without my earplugs, because of people talking loudly on their phones or students roaring with laughter, oblivious that they are in a shared, public space. I have had to pluck up my courage to ask bus passengers to lower their volume more than once.

The sight of priority seats being occupied by young, able-bodied passengers is rare in Taiwan, whereas it is rather common here, with passengers using their phones or napping to avoid eye contact with passengers who truly need the seats.

Furthermore, Taiwan has an exemplary recycling culture which we can learn from.

I was dismayed that recently at my estate, the four recycling bins for paper, plastic, glass and metal were replaced by a single large recycling bin. Although this makes it much more convenient for people to recycle, it increases the possibility of contamination such as from food stains on paper, rendering it unrecyclable.

It is ingrained in the Taiwanese to keep the environment clean and show consideration for others. One wonders what accounts for the difference in civic-mindedness between Taiwan and Singapore.

Liu I-Chun


The Straits Times @STcom

Civic-mindedness won’t happen if people focus only on themselves


MAY 17, 2019, 5:00 AM SGT

zzzeee.jpgA lunch crowd at Singapore’s central business district, on March 19, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

I could not agree more with the recent editorial on civic-mindedness (More civic-minded behaviour needed, May 15).

The feeding of pigeons persisting despite hundreds of notices discouraging the act and the random use of mobility devices at void decks point to the lack of civic-mindedness among people in Singapore.

These are in addition to people not clearing their rubbish from tables at void decks, despite the fact that there are rubbish bins nearby, and having a blatant disregard for notices instructing cyclists to dismount when crossing bridges and some road junctions. The list goes on.

While the editorial pointed out the role of town councils in implementing and effecting rules in such areas, the problem goes deeper than the setting and abiding of rules and laws to correct inconsiderate behaviour.

The paradox of Singaporeans behaving only when the rule of law is imposed is well known, but this does not speak well of civic-mindedness here.

The editorial rightly pointed out that one should not impinge on the rights of others in order to have the freedom to do what one desires.

This speaks of the unhealthy development of individualism and the lack of concern for the well-being of the rest of society.

The demand for one’s rights at the expense of the rights of others and society at large is the root of the problem of the lack of civic-mindedness here.

It explains the angst among many when their rights are threatened by changes of policy or curtailed by the rule of law – it does not matter if such changes benefit society in general and augur well for the progress and survival of family values and the time-tested values of the nation. What matters is that only the individual’s rights have been violated and he will not take it lying down.

For example, I have seen senior citizens demanding their rights by blatantly jumping queue or admonishing younger people for not giving up their seats on the MRT. This is not to say that this problem affects only young people but, rather, it is an issue affecting all strata of society.

People in Singapore are concerned about themselves, their individual “rights” and their happiness, rather than the well-being of others. As long as people do not cultivate and nurture concern for others and society as a whole and choose to focus only on themselves, civic-mindedness will never blossom.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)


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