Nip ‘Ugly Singaporean’ habits in the bud

Source: The Straits Times   Jun 03, 2013

THE supermarket shoppers who abandon their trolleys indiscriminately in void decks, pavements and on the roadside are symptomatic of the “Ugly Singaporean” phenomenon in our midst (“Halt rise of ‘trolley junkyards'” by Mr Muhammad Hidayat Isnin; last Thursday).

This problem is a perennial one that plagues supermarkets here. Apart from putting up warnings, which are likely to be ignored, the supermarkets could consider liaising with the National Environment Agency to enforce more effective methods to ensure that trolleys are not carted away from supermarket precincts.

It is obvious that the system whereby users insert $1 to use the trolley and retrieve the coin at the return points is not working.

Recently, writer Leong Chan-Hoong shared the lessons he learnt while studying in New Zealand and rightly advocates that Singaporeans can afford a dose of magnanimity by “treating one another with mutual respect and dignity, regardless of backgrounds” (“Singaporeans can afford a dose of magnanimity”; last Wednesday).

Having lived in New Zealand myself, I identified with his experiences. I found that in New Zealand, trust, honesty, graciousness, courtesy and magnanimity were extended to people and were likewise expected of people as they went about their daily lives.

There is much that Singaporeans can improve on, whether it is returning supermarket trolleys and foodcourt trays, displaying gracious manners on the road, or giving way to alighting passengers on the MRT.

Despite all the exhortations from the authorities for kindness, graciousness, courtesy and magnanimity, we are light years away from reaching standards that are commensurate with those of a developed first-world country.

A lack of kindness, compassion and the human touch will nullify all the progress we make in economic development.

The solution lies at home and in the classroom because these core arenas are where the seeds of good behaviour and citizenship can be planted, nurtured and cultivated.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)