A few years ago, I stepped into a taxi and the cab driver started railing about his taxi company’s unfair employee policies and high rental fees. He went on and on, and while I did sympathise with him, he just wouldn’t stop. I got fed up and shot back at him: “So what have you done about the situation?”
As it turned out, he did nothing. He said: “What choice do I have?”
But all he was content to do was just criticize his employer in front of other people, but he had no guts to go solve his own problems (or leave the organization which made him so unhappy).
A friend pointed out that he may not have had a choice about being stuck as a cab driver. I disagreed – everyone has a choice about their careers unless they are disabled in some manner. This guy was just perpetuating an endless cycle of anger and unhappiness where there was no happy ending or resolution.
As the Singapore general elections draw near, I’m feeling the same level of annoyance towards many people when they post their unhappiness about the PAP or the Government online.
Sometimes, it’s hilarious to read, but most of the time, it’s inane when people go to great lengths to criticize just about anything.
It’s a matter of perspective, folks. And it’s sometimes lacking in this country. Or at least online.
Now let me get some things straight before the same angst-ridden people descend on my comments page with rude comments and such.
– I’m not a PAP fanboy. I am not part of any grassroots organization nor am I desiring to. I don’t work for the Gahmen (well, I used to work for a quasi-quasi-Gahmen organization that didn’t pay as well as the real thing though.) I have my days very filled by my family, work, and hobbies, thank you.
– I’m not against an Opposition in Singapore. I have deep respect for folks like JB Jeyaratnam and Chiam See Tong, but most of the Opposition have yet to impress me. Then you have guys like Chee Soon Juan whose Wikipedia entry is quite self-explanatory. Most youngsters today are too young to remember his media stunts in the 1990s and some actually look up to him.
– My nickname in the army was Complain King, but as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in just complaining, I believe in fixing the problems.
This past week, we’ve had two interesting examples that kicked off more off-centre outpourings from Singaporeans.
The Army Boy And His Maid.
I was quite taken aback when I saw this picture of a maid carrying the fullpack for this NSman. It created an instant uproar, especially among us guys who have to serve National Service. The usual plethora of Photoshop spoofs followed, poking fun at both the guy and the SAF. Even the SAF said they’ll take action, but good luck to them in weeding out this anonymous guy.
But let’s put things into perspective.
– It’s a freak picture of one guy, out of hundreds of thousands of NS guys and reservists who drag themselves to camp daily or annually. Surely you’ve met your fair share of spoilt brats in the army? And how many of them get their maids or mothers to carry their bags?
– We don’t know if it’s real or fake.
– I think it’s far sadder that we turn 18-year-olds into officers who believe they can lead a platoon of men into war, when in other countries, being selected to go OCS is not a matter of grades, but real, proven ability to lead. Today as a reservist officer in my 30s, I never fail to be stunned by how young and inexperienced the young officers look, and how I was the same too in 1996.
This SAF episode is more a humorous episode than anything, but it can get nasty as in the case of:
The PAP candidate who’s too young to be true
Poor 27-year-old Tin Pei Ling, she’ll be drawing flak for being too young to be an MP until she’s about 40. And whether she realizes it or not, she’ll be drawing away a lot of media attention from other PAP candidates during the election, which is an excellent political tactic if you ask me.
I don’t know what to make of Ms Tin, except that she really gives the PAP some Gen Y marketing prowess in a sea of typical-looking new candidates. As an ex-journo, I can tell you what makes the news, and the PAP is very well-versed in this aspect.
What I do know is that such demeaning posts on her are uncalled for, especially within a day of her official media outing.
Now what impressed me during her first media outing was that she didn’t freak out when surrounded by a crowd of hungry journalists (who were probably tired of interviewing middle-aged high-fliers). She didn’t give really mindblowing answers, but she held her ground.
Let me ask people who are unhappy with her, or who are making fun of her on forums or Facebook/Twitter
– Have you given her a chance to communicate further before you cast judgement on her?
– Do you think you can do better than her in grassroots work or political ambition? Have you tried to? Would you like to? Can you hope to?
– What is it about her, really, that makes you so unhappy and critical that you want to jump in and rip her apart with your Internet claws?
– If you really don’t like her, and she’s going to contest in your estate, will you then cast a vote to show your displeasure? Or will you, like the taxi driver, say you have “no choice” but to vote in the status quo?
I don’t ask the above questions to cheese people off. I ask it as a matter of fact, for people to examine why they are unhappy/derisive about any thing or person they don’t even know very well in their entirety or context.
At the end of the day, the army boy could be genuine jerk, or it could have been another Internet hoax. Ms Tin could fail miserably at her bid for greatness, or become a brilliant politician given her early start.
Who knows? Do you?
What wouldn’t change, is the fact that so many people, especially on certain websites that I’ve long stopped reading, are so willing to follow herd mentality and voice their displeasure on everything that doesn’t fit into their frame of what they believe the world, and other people should do for them.
If you’re not happy, don’t just talk. Make a change where it counts. If you really can’t change things, then at least get another perspective.
Trust me, you’ll wonder why you were so upset in the first place.