Thursday, April 17, 2008

Voting with the feet is worse than voting for the other side

Dear editor,


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has in a recent interview with Lianhe Zaobao (and translated for the Straits Times) mentioned how the search for political successors has become a big challenge for his government.

He cited how out of the 600-odd students who scored four As in their A levels each year, about 150 would eventually work abroad, some never to return. Implied in this is that our future top leaders would probably be from this 600-odd.

Looking in the wrong places?

I feel that to limit the search to students who can ace examinations is slightly myopic and that perhaps we are looking in the wrong places. Management students would have heard of Level 5 leadership (eg late President Wee Kim Wee); or Great man aka Traits theory (that leadership is inherent eg MM Lee Kuan Yew) and other theories. But Singapore’s 4 A’s theory of political leadership we have not.

Furthermore, to address this vital issue of future political leadership fully, we cannot avoid the problem of Singapore’s high emigration rate as the two issues are inextricably intertwined.

Singapore’s high emigration rate

Singapore’s emigration rate, one of the highest in the world on a per capita basis, is a serious threat to our viability as a nation. Many social commentators have already voiced their concerns that quick fixes whereby Singaporeans who have left are replaced by more-than-willing new citizens from India and China may not have its intended effect as it is difficult to sieve out those who only see Singapore as a hotel and not home.

Although globalisation -where talented Singaporeans are a scarce commodity courted by developed economies, must be the main culprit for our population outflow, an often quoted push factor is that Singapore is too regulated and stifling. Perhaps these ex-Singaporeans feel that they do not belong here and that they would rather invest their lives in another land.

New Paradigm needed

I wonder if the establishment would agree with me that a political structure that leaves little room for alternative paths and views is “regulated and stifling”. Would our present leaders ever consider a new paradigm- A paradigm with a level playing field and where the best ideas can emerge freely to lead us to greater heights?

Conclusion: Voting with the feet is worse than voting for the other side

The risk of the citizens voting for the other side is still better than if they voted with their feet. Even if they voted against the ruling party, they may still be persuaded the next time. Once they have left, they are gone forever.

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

PS: Hi friends, I sent the above letter to the Forum Page .
19.4.08: The Straits Times Forum Page has published it on the Online section of the Forum page here.

Links to related posts on
1. Thinking beyond tea-chats
2. The exodus continues


SHIMURE said...

It has always been a social concern.

Singaporeans are not feeling the urge to stay here in singapore as there is a few push factors.

One) the standard of living is always increasing. Look at the property prices for 1.

two) Policies are not always in favor of the development of citizens as compared to the hiring of talents from overseas. If our locals find better employment overseas, they will leave.

three) singapore market and areana is too small. those with talent and skills want to be appreciated greatly for their talents and skills more. So they emigrate.

Our government should consider all these factors instead of implementing even more push factors to push singaporeans to emigrate.

Like what they said about attracting foreign talents.

Where grass is greener, there the horses will run too.

My 2 cents worth.

Anonymous said...

I like the ads by google related to your post, a photo of feet nibbled by fish..
How appropriate :)

Anonymous said...

Voting with the feet is a very wise decision for young and old.

I liken Singapore to Sentosa(Singapore)Island. It is a place one goes to relax for a while but not to have a home and stay.
In Sentosa, there are leisure activities and little else.

Singapore itself will soon be like Sentosa. Foreigners will come to visit for rests and recreations for a few days and their next visit, if they ever do, will be quite some time. The World is very well connected now and the trend for tourists nowadays is to go and be close to Nature.

Modern and chic destinations like Hong Kong and Singapore are only good for shoppings and foods. Other countries are already proving themselves to outshine Singapore and Hong Kong. Singaporeans and Hongkies go to Italy, Bangkok and France to shop regularly.

As Singapore makes itself expensive for the Locals to live and the tourists to spend, only those who can afford to pay for leisures will remain or visit.

Very few locals would be able to live like their forefathers as survivals are likely going to be very challenging as time progresses.

So, voting with your feet is wise. It is not that we, the people, are just being pushed away from home. But other countries have make themselves more attractive, socially, environmentally and politically.

Come back to Singapore to visit relatives, friends and stay a day longer on Election Days to enjoy the thrills of the results.

There is a pragmatic Chinese(Teochew Dialect) Saying that goes like this; 'ti ko liang, ti ko chor'. Stays where you get good shade, literally meaning stay where you get protected and care for.


Anonymous said...

Btw, Singapore has lost all its' charms; the traditions and cultures of all the different races. Almost everything from fashion wares to foods have become 'homogenised'. The traditional arts have become extinct. And much of them are westernised stuff now.

It has become a safe haven for the rich and their fortunes. But, our leaders are only charmed by money and care less about you and me. This is the reality.


Anonymous said...

I will leave NOT because I am very talented and need a bigger country for my challenge.

I will leave NOT because Singapore is not good.

I will leave because I am NOT good enough to stay in Singapore.

I will leave because Singapore's Govt is TOO good for its own good.

Anonymous said...

In addition to the above,

For the sake of my children's future, I have no choice but to leave Singapore for good.

Pragmatic Patriot.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with Anonymous, at 2:42 AM, April 20, 2008.

Just to add, it's not just for the sake of our children, but also for ourselves when one day, we grow old and sick.

Nurses' Day is just over, so I'll share some observations of the current state of nursing in Singapore. Hospitals are flooded with foreign nurses, some are good, but many more chose nursing because it is a means to escape the economic realities of their homeland. Nothing wrong with that except when it affects their professionalism. I've seen examples of non-English-speaking local patients (perhaps then deemed to be unable to raise complaints) being treated with disdain and poor nursing skills by these foreign nurses. Sometimes these nurses even vent their frustrations over their lack of promotion/training, lower than 1st world pay, etc on the patients.

In all honesty, part of the reason for me becoming a nurse is also to move out of Singapore's economic & political reality. Being the minority Singapore citizen nurse amongst the foreign nurses, you cannot always stand up against poor service/abuses because the senior nurse that you report to may actually be the abusive nurse's fellow countrymen and side with their countrymen. In addition, I have seen these foreign nurses ganging up against anyone who is deemed to be "spoiling their market". So lan, lan, zip up, help local patients where possible behind the foreigners' backs while waiting for my ticket out of Singapore Inc.

Maybe it's not just the foreign nurses personal attitude problem. Maybe the way Singapore labour force is treated contributes to the issue. Otherwise, why would these foreigners not live up to their countries' reputation of gentleness and excellent customer service when they work in Singapore?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 9.43:
Her comment is more suited to another post.
I have taken the liberty to post it onto the post about Nurses Day.

Thank you