Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ultimate Apathy?

In my previous posting on the topic, I discussed Michael Hwang's speech urging lawyers to less apathetic and work for the interest of the community[Link]. I speculated on the causes of this apathy among Singaporeans. Many Singaporeans don't seem to care what happens to other Singaporeans. Some of you might feel the lack of reaction and outrage among Singaporeans for having political detainees locked for decades and bankrupted for their views can be rationalised by the tumultous politics of the 60s that they are actually not so uncaring and ignorant but pragmatic. Optimists among you may believe if something big happens to our society people will stand up when it matters and all this talk about apathy is overblown - Singaporeans are more caring that what critics make them out to be. These optimists are wrong. Singaporeans are really apathetic, many really practise "mind your own business" religiously and will simply continue doing what they do no matter what happens around them. Don't believe? Try dying in front of Singaporeans to see if you get a reaction!






When you see no reaction from Singaporeans to govt policy, decisions, mega-losses by Temasek & GIC and countless price hikes, it is not because they think the govt has done nothing wrong or they have accepted those losses as honest mistakes - they have simply don't think and don't care.... period. They just mind their own business. The lack of reaction cannot be interpreted as Singaporeans being contented and generally happy. The lack of reaction is the result of extreme apathy. People don't care, they mind their own business.....their fellow Singaporeans can just drop dead in front of them and they can continue eating their chicken like nothing has happened. It is very sad what has happened to Singaporeans - almost nothing can move them and wake them.

36 comments:

Musicwhiz said...

I don't agree on this one, Lucky.

The article was obviously written from a tabloid slant, and was trying to stir up emotions.

For me personally, I've always seen people helping others in need, whether on buses, trains or malls. People are not as apathetic as described in your post.

Cheers,
Musicwhiz

Anonymous said...

Apathy is good for Singapore politics. Or else there will be protests or even riots and chaos if people are otherwise.

If that happens everybody suffers.

So apathy is still the lesser of 2 evils.

Of course voting with your feet is the best choice, provided you can find the choice.

skeptic said...

let people be apathetic until disaster strikes. when no one is around to help them.. then they deserve it...

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Not necessarily apathy.

Could be something like the Bystander Effect (eg. the classic case of Kitty Genovese and more recently, the Richmond High School gang rape).

Also I agree with Musicwhiz that the article was written to provoke.

Since it is from the mainstream media, maybe it is trying to reinforce the image that Singaporeans are hopelessly apathetic, so that people who do care should just give up and accept the status quo.

Anonymous said...

this is called "simply BO CHAP", LOL LOL LOL!!!
this is reflection of s'pore culture which consists of Kiasi, Kiasu, Bo Chap

Anonymous said...

Hey lucky,

I agree with you, but don't like the slant of your post.

Have you noticed that it is a govt habbit of asserting that Singaporeans are special. Singaporeans are aspecially uncreative, law abiding, do not like children, kiasu etc, etc. PAP govt is special and does not need checks and balances, ministers are especially talented etc, etc.

Truth is that Singaporeans are just people. No different from any other. People are selfish.

What is different is that Singapore soceity as a whole does not have the understanding of how a modern civic soceity works. A civic soceity is not just about good laws and checks and balances. A good citizen must actively support the causes that are impt to him, whether it is animal rights, death penalty, oppostion politicians, etc, etc.... It is the only way a soceity can function. Without it, ... well... you get PAP. The truth is the present mess in governance is not the govts fault. Its ours. Changing the govt is not the solution. Changing our soceity is. In many contires, citizens have endured jail and abuse for their rights (watch iron jawed angles for a very recent example). Freedom is not free.

Although we live in an under developed soceity, Singapreans are not innately better or worse than other people. Just like a uni graduate is not innately better than someone who did not have a chance to receive an education.

To a certain extent, the under-development of SIngapore is the fault of the govt. The moral education tells us that good citizens obey the laws and help old people cross the street. In the US, they celebrate their freedom fighters like Martin Luther King, here, we treat them as jokes (Chee Soon Juan). However, ultimately, we are responsible for our own country.

Let me say this again. Voting out the PAP is not the solution. Building a soceity that has the guts to vote out the PAP is.

3 cheers for lucky tan for doing his part! Thank you man. =)

Anonymous said...

The apathy level in Singapore is definitely much higher than in society with more freedom and less oppressive government.
Unwittingly, the PAP government, in its' selfish and singleminded pursuit of continued dominance in Singapore, has led to this major weakness in our society. I really wonder whether Singaporeans even bother if an outside force take over Singapore.

Onlooker said...

Of course Apathy is hyped up recently considering the number of Charity shows and Drive that is going to hit soon in this troubled economic times.

Yes donate everything including your underwear so that "WE ARE ONE" ;) ;).

And then you find out that some one just installed a golden tap for his office bathroom or get a big fat bonus.<-_->

These articles does not spring up for no reasons.

There are specific targets to be met for charity shows.

Expect more Singaporean "APATHY" "NEWS" when considering this fact at least a quarter of the populace are non committed Foreigners who are just making a living here.
There is no sense of belonging here so why should they care.(which I concede I have to agree with them)

Anonymous said...

I would say SIngaporeans are the coolest cucumber in the world.

who gives a fuck when somebody drops dead, thousands of people die everyday.

As for me, if i was caught in a long traffic jam becasue of an accident up front, it better be a fatality! or my wait will be in vain.

Anonymous said...

I feel that Singaporeans are apathetic because we are helpless. And have grown used to being helpless. Can we do anything when ministers enrich themselves while we are paid peanuts? Can we do anything if we are unfairly retrenched? The thing we'll do is probably shrug it off and start looking for another job. Can't even expect sympathy from own kin. So if we're apathetic even about our own situations, how much less others? Yet this was not always the Singapore I know. Many years ago when we were more closely knitted, the bonds were stronger. So who's to blame? I think we all know where the finger is pointing.

Anonymous said...

I feel that Singaporeans are apathetic because we are helpless. And have grown used to being helpless. Can we do anything when ministers enrich themselves while we are paid peanuts? Can we do anything if we are unfairly retrenched? The thing we'll do is probably shrug it off and start looking for another job. Can't even expect sympathy from own kin. So if we're apathetic even about our own situations, how much less others? Yet this was not always the Singapore I know. Many years ago when we were more closely knitted, the bonds were stronger. So who's to blame? I think we all know where the finger is pointing.

28/11/09 13:34

I agreed 100% to what you said.
Many of my friends 40plus said that the MP are shits who do not come up anything to help them but talk about learning to 'fish', explain how the prices are AFFORDABLE, ONCE EVERY 50 years, etc and all sorts of excuses and no SOLUTIONS.

Result : Must think of ourselves already and F*** all things else. They are apathetic because THEY CAN DO NOTHING.

Anonymous said...

Those people are apathetic sitting there do nothing because they are not Singaporeans, lol.

ation said...

No, we are not hapless. Some chose to be hapless.

We are apathetic because we cannot come together as a united force to champion for any cause.

The only exception is when natural disaster strikes, e.g. the Tsunami, but even then only a segment of our society has bothered to do something to help our unfortunate neighbours.

Having said that, I doubt most Singaporeans will stand up to fight for the country. If there is a stronger military force that invades Singapore, the calculative, selfish, kiasu and kiasi mentality will be set in play and prevail.

I, for one, will not fight to defend the country. Why?

Simply because I have nothing to gain. What is a 99-year lease govt flat? Can it entice me to die for the tiny island that has no hinterland, no depth, no resources but only a handful of selfishly power-crazy people.

Why should I die to protect the filthy rich investors, the powerful exploiters, the opportunistic foreigners, and the uncaring self-enriching ministers and elitist scholars in the civil service?

I would rather welcome the invading forces with open arms and hope that things will change for the better - a new government and a new country; a new life and a new hope.

Whether I become a second class citizen is not an issue at all. We are already a second, if not third, class citizen under our own so-called 'leaders'.

"Hope springs eternal in the human breast:
Man never is, but always To be Blest." - Alexander Pope.

Anonymous said...

The bystanders are probably secretly happy for the guy who dropped dead while eating. Many would have hoped for a similarly peaceful ending to a meaningless life in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

well said ation.

This PAP only care for themselves. Just look at all the policies which they have createD over the past years.
The general population objected them, but the ministers will say "this is for the long term, just endure".

The FT policy is the worst of all. The FT have taken over our rice bowls, create overcrowded condition for the Singpaoreans.

Yet, the PAP say "without FT, We will have no jobs". PAP totally ignore us.

Apathy?

THAT IS THE RESULT OF BRAINWASHING OVER THE YEARS.

Anonymous said...

Let me say that again:

A FLAT IS A BASIC NEED FOR US. A PARTY THAT TELLS US THEY ARE AFFORDABLE WHEN THE TRUTH IS NOT SHOULD BE VOTED OUT.

Forget about all the grandoise plans, if they can't EVEN GIVE US A SATISFIED SOLUTION. OUT OUT OUT IS THE WAY TO GO.

I have made up my mind not to vote for them anymore in the next election, IRREGARDLESS.

Anonymous said...

I think I love you! Spent the past hour reading your blog and laughing so hard. :)

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are some of the most selfish, inconsiderate, kiasu & kiasi people in the world.
There are a few Singaporeans who are not, but very few.

Anonymous said...

Is this what they had wanted????

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 28/11/09 11:47 says "There is no sense of belonging here so why should they care.(which I concede I have to agree with them)"

Anon @ 28/11/09 13:34"I feel that Singaporeans are apathetic because we are helpless. And have grown used to being helpless. Can we do anything when ministers enrich themselves while we are paid peanuts? Can we do anything if we are unfairly......"


Dear above anon,
Thank you for saying it. I agreed with what both of you have say.

This is pragmatism, not apathy said...

This is not apathy. This is pragmatism. Since he is already dead, what do you expect me to do? Will my starving of myself instead of eating my lunch, raise him from the dead? Since the family are already comforting each other (in vain), will my going forward to console them help them feel less paini? Nothing I do can change the situation, and so I do nothing. That's pragmatism!

But if my involvement can help in the situation, I help! And the evidence is in the outpour of donation after a poor man jumped onto the MRT track, the outpour of help for Huang Na, the yearly mega record donation for NKF etc etc.

Thus, there is no evidence that Singaporeans are apathetic. They are really pragmatic - get involve only if their involvement will make a difference.

"Helping" a dead man and his family does not make any difference!

Anonymous said...

A typical chinese problem. Same thing in China. Not the same thing in india or malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are apathetic when it does not affect their interest.

But if there is something to be gained, like promotions and free gifts, you will see long queues, even overnight. Not apathetic at all.

So very easy to make Singaporeans not apathetic, especially when it comes to elections. Just release some goodies before elections. Sure work one. PAP know this very well already.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it just shows that Singaporeans do not know how to respect the deads.

In Western countries, people will refrain from making noices when death occurs.

In Japan, people attend funeral in all black with sorrowful expression. In fatal accident, their police will try to hide the death from the views of reporters' camera. These people respect the dignity of the demised.

In Singapore, it is not uncommon to see Chinese funerals running like "Getai," sometime with people playing mahjong throughout the wakes. The funeral process features various musical entertainment, including "western bands" performing oldies with Malays and Indians in shroddy outfits among them. You can see people watching with indifference or curiosity, from their HDB windows or coffee shops. Have they ever shown any respect to the death? Ask yourselves.

Singaporeans do not know how to show respect to the death. Will they respect the living?

SG Girl Next Door said...

I had (quite a few times) helped unwell female passengers in mrt by walking them to taxi stand to take a cab home; placing them at station's staff room and wait for their parents to come fetch them; stayed with them till they're better to continue their journey.

I'd also helped a boy who fell off a bicycle (and injured his arm)to contact his parents, called the ambulance and waited with him.

I had waited at a spot for half an hour where I picked up a wallet containing four hundred dollars, hoping the owner would return. When that didn't happen, I took it to the police post (at twelve midnight).

Singaporeans still got hope?

yamizi said...

Well...I wonder how did the decease 'drop dead' then. Was it in a very dramatic manner or he was like as if he was napping.

Lucky, what would you expect people around to do?

Anonymous said...

"Many Singaporeans don't seem to care what happens to other Singaporeans."

A lot among us have finessed the art of blocking out what does not concern you directly - as every single act or effort now has a price or cost tag to it.

Anonymous said...

"Lucky, what would you expect people around to do?"

Why not ask yourself the same question : -

What would you expect people around to do if the sad incident happens to befall onto someone closer to you.

yamizi said...

anon @ 11:48

Wow, sounds like an angry man hiding behind anonymity.

Firsly, I don't quite trust how the news had reported this case. And I believe many readers over here understand that we always have to take a pinch of salt with MSM's reports.

For myself, I have met Singaporeans who are kind hearted and with initiatives but I dare not say that we would meet such nice Singaporeans everytime.

Becareful that demonising Singaporeans won't help in solving any issues because, after all, you are Singaporeans too.

That's why I posted the question how did the man die. That is something important. If his uneasiness was obvious then it would garner attention. If he just somehow appear as if 'falling asleep', then it won't catch much attention.

I touched my heart and I had ever stopped at the CTE to help an injured motorcyclist to get an ambulance. And that was after seeing near 10 cars that drove pass her and did nothing. Apathetic people exist, yes, but are they oblige to do anything for you?

We all know that we are far behind from a gracious society, so come on, be realistic. Demonising Singaporeans ain't going to help.

And asking me "What would you expect people around to do if the sad incident happens to befall onto someone closer to you." not going to help much but only show that you have absolutely nothing constructtive to offer at all.

Anonymous said...

This is the true success of the pappies. They have breed the ultimate singaporean, who has enabled it to stay in power, no matter what it does.

Anonymous said...

THOSE SINGAPOREANS ARE FUCKING SICK!!

Anonymous said...

In Vietnam, the dead(or dying) man will be relieved of all valuables.

Anonymous said...

Apathy? I think all you have not seen ultimate apathy till you hear about the passing of lee. Being apathetic is our culture. Truely Singapore, Uniquely Singapore. Remember we are a country without soul? Howelse would you explain our kindness and courtesy campaigns over the years? Look at how HDB treat the homeless. How CPF took our money without our consent? How drivers were charged ARF and COE for wanting a car? You think they care about us? Sad as it is, it is our tradition. I'm getting more angry as I write. Oh wait, that too is part our culture being insignificant and oppressed individuals. Filled with anger and bitterness and constantly cynical. And you wonder why we need to be replaced by FT.

Anonymous said...

Apathy? I think all you have not seen ultimate apathy till you hear about the passing of lee. Being apathetic is our culture. Truely Singapore, Uniquely Singapore. Remember we are a country without soul?

Howelse would you explain our kindness and courtesy campaigns over the years? Look at how HDB treat the homeless. How CPF took our money without our consent? How drivers were charged ARF and COE for wanting a car? You think they care about us? Sad as it is, it is our tradition.

I'm getting more angry as I write. Oh wait, that too is part our culture being insignificant and oppressed individuals. Filled with anger and bitterness and constantly cynical.

And you wonder why we need to be replaced by FT.

Puzzled said...

Just because this incident happened in Singapore, you assumed that Singaporeans are apathetic. One third of the population here comprises foreigners (talented or otherwise). Aren't they apathetic too?

Anonymous said...

Look at the picture again! Anyone who has ever helped someone in that situation would know...

Once the police arrived, all non-related people would be asked to leave the enclosed scene.

I have seen many helpful people and had helped others. Hence, I'm sure there are people would disagree this generalization of Singaporeans being apathetic or pragmatic.