By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
At a World Cities Summit dialogue yesterday, PM Lee told the audience that trust has been built between the Government and Singaporeans and that the people are willing to work with the Government (http://www.straitstimes.com/
He said that Singaporeans trust that they will benefit from Government’s initiatives and that the Government will make the right trade-offs for them.
He cited the public acceptance of the extensive network of some 65,000 police cameras the Government has installed in public areas like lift lobbies nationwide since 2012 to deter and combat crime.
“It’s very useful from a law enforcement point of view, but it’s not so straightforward to do because people must be convinced that this is good for them, they will benefit from it, and it is not to intrude on their privacy,” he said.
“In Singapore, we have been able to do that and there has been acceptance from the population that this is a scheme which is good.”
It’s not known where Mr Lee got his statistics from with regard to the acceptance of the camera installations by the public. Certainly, the citizens were not asked for their permission for the police to install the cameras and no nationwide referendum has been held over the matter.
It’s also strange that Mr Lee said that Singaporeans trust his government to make the right trade-offs when the massive first-of-its-kind public protest over the 6.9 million Population White Paper in 2013 has shown otherwise.
“We expect you to work”
When asked about Singapore’s secret in maintaining a “constructive citizen-government relationship” when many societies failed, Mr Lee replied that Singapore had developed a balance between self-reliance and government help that worked.
“We work with you but we do expect you to work. And it’s backed up by the resources of the state in terms of education, housing, healthcare, security and safety,” he added.
“That’s a balance that’s not quite the same as in most other countries, and it’s a dynamic one we have to find, but it has so far worked for Singapore.”
Indeed, in Singapore, it’s not uncommon to find elderly working until they literally die at their workplace.
Few years ago, it was reported in the news that an 80-year-old elderly dishwasher was found dead in the toilet of a hawker center in Redhill where she had been working for the last six years of her life. She was found sitting on the toilet bowl when she passed away.
According to her supervisor, she worked daily from morning till night and only had two days off a month. “When I saw her yesterday, she was walking unsteadily and appeared pale. I heard she has been having diarrhea for the past few days,” the supervisor said.
Singapore has the highest density of elderly toilet cleaners in the world?
Several years ago, a pediatrician, Dr Chong Su Yan Anne, wrote to ST Forum (‘Elderly toilet cleaners a sad reflection of society here’) making an astute observation.
“Recently, I was at a toilet in a shopping centre when I noticed an elderly woman with a bent and crooked back trying to clean the floor while fashionable young women applied their lipsticks and checked their hairdos in the mirror.
I find this scene to be a sad reflection of society here, one that is played out daily in numerous shopping centres.
During the course of my travels through China, from rural Yunnan to cosmopolitan Shanghai, I never once encountered an elderly toilet cleaner. This is perhaps because in China, it is considered a stain on the family honour if your mother, grandmother or aunt has to clean toilets to support herself, so the elderly are usually supported by the family network. The situation is the same in the Philippines.
Singapore seems unique in having the highest density of elderly toilet cleaners in the world, surely not an accolade to be proud of. Although cleaning toilets is easy to learn, it is far from pleasant, given the bad toilet habits of Singaporeans.
Besides this, it is a job that may be hazardous for the elderly, who are more likely to suffer serious fractures should they slip on the wet toilet floor.”
Still, Singaporeans do indeed seem to trust the government going by the spectacular results obtained by the PAP during the last GE.