Yan's Corner - In Touch

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Switching Values

In the book Who Switched The Price Tags, the author Tony Compolo relates the story when he was a little boy. He and a friend decided to break into a drug store to do some mischief.

They did not want to steal anything. They did not want to destroy anything. They only wanted to leave some marks.

They switched the price tags around. They put expensive price tags on cheap stuff. Cheap stuff were tagged with high price tags.

They reversed the values of all the goods.

Does that remind us of a truth?

We are switching our values.

I was disturbed this morning by the confirmation by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Singapore is "gambling" on two casinos.

Lee revealed the government's decision in Parliament to allow construction of two casinos. The decision was reached after months of mulling over the economic pros and social cons.

In justifying the country's decision, Lee said:

"In Asia, Shanghai is full of drive and energy. Hong Kong is opening its Disneyland; Hong Kong is also talking about opening a casino to compete with Macau. Will Singapore be part of the new world, or will we be bypassed and left behind."

It was reported that the ministers were evenly split in the debate. They shared the qualms of the public about the social impact.

I have always thought that Singapore's strict social controls are its main assets.

Is Singapore switching its values to things that are not as valuable as the tag that is attached to it?

1 comment(s):

Yan:

This same issue caught my attention and I had given it a take mainly lloking at the perspective of a government's duty to its people, and its leaders' policy and decison-making have to be made for the good of the "majority" of the people, yet respecting the minority's right to differ. But there is always a cost-benefit analysis to a key decision such as the one just taken by Lee Hsien Loong's government -- it definitely is a trade-off of certain social values for economic returns.

As a foreigner, I believe the republic's leaders have had built up a record which is the envy of its Asian neighbours, including Malaysia (yes, frankly speaking as a Malaysian).

I gues at the end of the day, an individual must adapt to his/her environment, and where he/she does not agree with a certain government policy/decision, it has to be respected, as long as that decision is made with transparency and accountability. I'd rather live with this environment than one where "high valueed" policies are preached, but implementation is such that there are manytransgressions and cloak-and-dagger deals at te edpense of the people.


At the end of the day, globalisation will impact on many nations' destiny, and influence their leaders in policy-making and adjustments. We need to benchmark against the better placed countries -- which Singapore certainly does -- and not compare with nations akin to banana republics.

By Blogger desiderata, at 11:16 pm  

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