Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Yes, We Are Miserable

"Does Singapore deserve its 'miserable' tag?" BBC journalist, Charlotte Ashton, definitely think so when she wrote an op-ed on the BBC’s website which has went viral in Singapore.

As a true blue, born-and-bred Singaporean I will ask this; “Is the sky blue?” Or maybe I should ask, “Is that even a question?” Come on, who in Singapore was surprised by Mrs. Ashton’s account of crouching on the floor of an MRT train with no one to help her? This is Singapore! You expect someone on the street to stop and waste their time to help a complete stranger; even if she was pregnant?  

If Mrs. Ashton expected that, she is sadly mistaken. It may be a culture shock to her, but as a true blue, born-and-bred proud Singaporean, I can safely say what happened to her is expected and very normal. So yes; Singapore truly deserve our ranking as the world’s most miserable country. 


Anonymous said...

Miserable and proud. One day it will be your turn to need the grace of a stranger.

thomas tan.. said...

If god is really there, pls ensure the grace of the stranger is not there..

Ghost said...

A helpful stranger? Not in Singapore. In Singapore, those guys are rarer then the dodo...yes, I know the dodo is extinct.

Timothy Tang said...

I have thought about the question of why Singaporeans can be seen as miserable. The following is my answer.


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 being 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.