By: Ben Matchap
Once the high cost of acquiring space disappears Singapore will “suddenly” have a surge of entrepreneurs and creatives willing to take risk and put Singapore on the map many times over.
Although high rental is something every major city suffers from, Singapore should be different because we have the highest paid ministers in the world. And they are paid such exorbitant amounts because they claim they are the most competent to manage a small country like Singapore. And all their decisions smack of sophistication:
- Need a casino? build two! DONE!
- Constitution does not suite your needs? Change it! DONE!
- Too many people drinking? Alcohol ban! DONE!
You get the idea. One of the perks of a one party majority rule is that things can change fast and Singapore can adapt quick. But the problem is we are not doing that. We are going no where quick. The government wants to push for entrepreneurship and that is a great endeavour. But they need to solve the societal problem of most Singaporeans not wanting to take risks.
When you have to spend your whole life paying for an-almost-half-a-million-dollars HDB flat, entrepreneurship seems like an endeavour for the rich with a big enough safety net to afford to fail. In Singapore can we afford to fail? Do we have a society that leaves us room to fail and grow? No we don’t!
Instead we have a society that stigmatises failure, repeating a year of school could be a reason for contemplating suicide for a lot of students. Our teen suicide is at an all time high and it is not because of Pokemon GO. Just in 2015 alone there were 27 suicides among those in the age range of 10-19 year olds.
How does a society which takes huge pride in its academic results with a rat-race-mentality begin to be creative and innovate? Simple, we need to address our past and come to terms with it. Only then can we learn from our mistakes and move on. Right now Singapore is like a car trying to start up with the parking brakes on, it ain’t good for the car.
So while I think lowering the cost of acquiring space will help a little in solving the the problem, we still need to get to the root problem – our country didn’t become this way overnight.
Maybe things like tough censorship, non-independent mainstream press, low ranking on press freedom, suing bloggers with defamation, having police raid people’s houses for posting Facebook comments…might have a chilling impact on Singaporeans to not stick their heads out too much, feel too strongly about issues and voice out the way they feel.
We need to change and the change has to come from the top. If not, the only place where hope and dreams can be found in Singapore would be at Changi departure hall.