BBC article a good reminder to be more gracious, says PM Lee

March 19, 2014

SINGAPORE — In response to a BBC online article that dubbed Singapore “misery city”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the report served as “a good reminder” to Singaporeans to be more considerate.

“We needn’t accept everything the writer says. But her article is still a good reminder to us to be kinder and more gracious to one another,” Mr Lee wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

In the article “Does Singapore deserve its ‘miserable’ tag?”, published on the BBC website on Friday, freelance reporter Charlotte Ashton cited a survey which found Singaporeans to be the least positive people on earth, and highlighted incidents in which train commuters did not offer her any help when she felt faint from morning sickness.
Mr Lee posted on Facebook: “We have made progress over the years with the courtesy campaign, the Singapore Kindness Movement, and efforts in our schools. We often read newspaper letters about acts of kindness to strangers. But we can still do much better.

Added the Prime Minister, who said he had shared the article with his colleagues: “It takes effort from each of us, but it is important and worthwhile. Our pace of life is fast, and we all feel the pressures of living in a city. But all the more we should try harder to respect and help one another. It will make life more pleasant for all of us.”

Two members of the Cabinet also echoed Mr Lee’s views.

“I think many of us would be able to relate to some of her experiences. I remember my wife facing the same situation,” said Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin in a Facebook post on Saturday.

“Building a gracious society starts with every one of us. When we begin to care for those around us, we would have started building not only a gracious society, but perhaps a great nation.”

Mr Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, added that he had seen signs of hope, such as in the form of group-up initiatives started by young Singaporeans encouraging others to be more gracious.

“I still remember the tagline of the old Courtesy campaign: Courtesy begins with me. It may be a cliche, but it’s still true,” Mr Wong wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

First published in TODAY – March 17, 2014

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