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“Many of our people are selfish and unkind” – Tommy Koh laments that Singapore is a first world nation with third world citizens

Dr Koh said that for an advanced nation many Singaporeans were lacking in basic civic consciousness and cited disregard for the environment and poor driving etiquette as examples




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Lamenting that Singapore is a first world nation with third world citizens, veteran diplomat Tommy Koh said that he is “more critical of Singaporeans than of the Government” and that he finds that many citizens are “selfish and unkind.”

Dr Koh made these remarks as he spoke at the Singapore Bicentennial Conference yesterday (1 Oct). On the topic of ways Singapore can improve, Dr Koh asserted that many Singaporeans are not as civic-minded as they should be as a citizen of an advanced nation.

He said: “I am more critical of Singaporeans than of the Government. Many of our people don’t give a damn for the environment when they should. Many of our people are selfish and unkind. Just look at the way they drive.”

Dr Koh added that he has many ideas for Singaporeans and that he will share his ideas in his upcoming columns that are published by the national broadsheet. The 81-year-old added: “I love Singapore. I would die for Singapore. But are we a perfect people? We are not.

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“But I believe that we can always be better and in the remaining years of my life, I want to dedicate my time, energy to making Singapore an even better place, and Singaporeans an even better people.”

Dr Koh currently serves as Ambassador-At-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Professor of Law at the National University of Singapore. A distinguished diplomat, he has served as Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador to the United States of America, High Commissioner to Canada and Ambassador to Mexico. -/TISG

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