Get some perspective, people

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.

saf maid

Pix from the Stomp website

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


Pix from PAP’s website

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.

5 Replies to “Get some perspective, people”

  1. These are my answers:

    – Have you given her a chance to communicate:
    Yes, her responses on the videos are hollow platitudes with no substance whatsoever . She’s even cleaning up her bimbo images on the net – probably after being advised by her handlers.

    – Do you think you can do better than her:
    Yes, and so can any able bodied Singaporean with half a brain. Just because a dictatorship is in charge today does not mean the Singapore spirit has been snuffed out.

    – What is it about her, really, that makes you so unhappy:
    Very simple – cost benefit ratio. It’s hard earned tax payers money wasted on such an inept instrument. In case you forget, Goh Keng Swee was paid a fraction of what she’ll be drawing.

    – If you really don’t like her, and she’s going to contest in your estate:
    If she show up in my ward, I’ll punch her in the kisser.

    Sorry if I’m upset, it’s my country I’m standing up for. And prepared to die for.

  2. Like I said, it’s not as easy as it looks to do what’s she doing, regardless of what one thinks of the current PAP system. Unfortunately, punching her in the kisser won’t solve anything either.

  3. Communication is more than just answering questions from reporters. I know a lot of people who can communicate *cough* bullshit *cough* better than most but can never do the job when it came round to that. It’s still early days. I don’t find her particularly impressive myself, but until she’s had a real chance to prove herself, who knows?

    It doesn’t matter if anyone else THINKS he/she can do better. Unless you’re actually out there doing something similar and doing it better, you are simply NOT.

    Tin didn’t bend any rules to get herself special pay. It’s the system that pays MPs what they’re paid. If you get elected MP, you get paid MP’s pay. If salary is the issue, then the system is what you’re against, not the candidate.

    Punching her in the kisser is as useful as trying to break a concrete wall with eggs. The wall gets dirty for a while but the egg, well, it’s never the same again.

    She may not be an old fogey civil servant, a minister’s kid, bonded to the garmen or even a scholar (on second thought, she probably is a sco-lah). She may turn out to be the best thing since sliced bread or end up a major waste of time. But she is a change. True that public resources are being used but we over-exaggerate the impact/detriment that she has the potential to cause.

    Many people crying for blood are just asking for political parties to go back to the old status quo where PAP fields candidates with a gazillion years in high-profile jobs, with more letters after their names than their names itself, who wash their hands after shaking them with hawkers, etc.

    Me, I’m game for a change already. Just as long as she doesn’t turn up in “Leppard Princez”.

  4. LT, good points there. I think most people get the gist of my posting, but there will always be people who feel very emotional about everything.

    To me, it’s very simple – if you have a chance to vote, then use it air your opinion and don’t regret your action. If you don’t get to vote, well, too bad, just accept reality and move on.

    But assuming that being in politics is very easy (ie. anyone can do what she’s doing), is like saying that it’s easy to be a doctor, lawyer, cleaner, tailor etc. No decent job is easy. Until you walk the talk, don’t talk the talk.

    What she/the PM/the President/whoever is going to earn is really none of my business – I pay my taxes and if I want to decide how it’s split, I should join the Gahmen. Of course, we snigger when we go into reservist and they tell me that we have to pay $6 if we skip lunch – technically I’ve already paid for that lunch through IRAS. But then again, I didn’t do crap to stop any SAF people from budgeting the way they did right – so frankly I’m also to blame for the way things are.

    So in essence, we deserve the Gahmen, the media and the population that we have today. We helped to put them where they are. If I’m really not happy about it, then I should move out of the country. But I’m pretty contented actually.

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