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I love Singapore, I really do.
I also admire the place, because what they have achieved in 50 odd years is amazing.
So much of that is down to Lee Kuan Yu – Singapore’s founding father and patriarch – a man who had the vision, drive and resolve to drag the country to the place it currently occupies, a place that is the role model for so many other nations, not just in Asia but around the World.
Of course the way he did that was almost dictatorial … and while the place claims to be a democracy, anyone who has lived there knows it is anything but.
That said, the amazingly positive effect his leadership has had on the country and its citizens cannot be denied, but the cost of that is rarely discussed.
There are many byproducts of this sort of dictatorial approach to building a nation and Singapore is currently going through some of them.
From cultural arrogance to the obsession with materialism to the collective sense of entitlement to the divide between rich and poor, Singapore’s success has created some less desirable traits however the one that is – for me – the most alarming, is the dumbing down of decision.
Everywhere you go, there are signs and messages telling you what to do and how you should think.
From signs in malls reminding people it’s wrong to steal to campaigns ridiculing kids who act in ways the government view as inappropriate, this spoon feeding mentality prevails.
However I saw something recently that even shocked me.
A new low in treating the population like fools.
Come on Singapore … really?
What next, road signs on the pavement for which direction you should be walking.
If they really want to do a sign on the escalator, it shouldn’t be where to put your feet, it should be to tell people to stop stopping at the bottom/top of the escalator as you decide where to go, when there’s people coming up/down behind you.
Years ago we used the business consultant Geoff Burch for a project.
He told us that he once was working with a car company who was suffering from a lot of customer complaints.
He suggested to them that their after-sales people were empowered to make some decisions, only to be told that if they allowed that, they would exploit the system and give away too much to anyone they wanted to help.
Geoff looked at them and said 2 things:
1. Maybe you should be hiring better people.
2. Maybe you should make your products better.
I can’t help but feel that if the Singaporean Government feel it necessary to tell people where to place their feet, they should look at what sort of nation they’re building, nurturing and celebrating.
Sure, they have – and continue to do – amazing things for their small country, but there’s no point having a population of very educated, very smart people if they can’t think or make decisions outside of their core competency.
Unless, of course, that is the master plan to keep your unique form of democracy in power.
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