Response to Singa’s ‘exit’ offers hope

May 31, 2013

WE ARE grateful for the letters and comments, such as the ones from Mr David Tan Kok Kheng and Ms Gillian Koh (“Singa, please don’t go”; May 17), who wanted Singa to stay on and continue reminding us about the importance of kindness and graciousness. It is a sentiment that I share.

But the different opinions surrounding Singa’s resignation letter have provided interesting insights into the state of kindness in Singapore. Does Singa still matter to us? Is he still relevant to Singapore today? These are some questions that have been raised in the last two weeks.

I hope that through this episode, we will all give more thought to the role each of us has to play in order to make Singapore a kind and gracious society.

While the goals of the Singapore Kindness Movement remain the same, our society has changed. The movement must also change its methods in order to engage and relate to people better.

Ms Koh mentioned that she spoke to her friends to try and help them understand the frustration that Singa expressed in his resignation letter. That struck me as particularly poignant.

The opinions of our family, friends and peers are usually more well-received and seen as more credible. We need real role models and champions of kindness to make an impact in our community.

Mr Rajasegaran Ramasamy (“Singa’s ‘exit’ a sad reflection of modern society”; Forum Online, May 17) wrote that “it is really up to all of us to make Singapore renowned for not only its efficiency, but also its graciousness and kindness”.

I agree with him. Our progress as a nation is not without cost, but every society will have its attendant problems and difficulties. Singapore is no different. It is up to us to decide how we respond to these challenges, and whether we can be models of kindness in our own communities.

Since Singa’s letter, many have spoken up about what our society should and must strive to achieve. To me, that response has been a beacon of hope. Life may not be as simple as before, but as long as there are those among us who are willing to step forward and take responsibility, the vision of a kind and gracious Singapore can be a reality.

Dr William Wan
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

First published in The Straits Times – May 31, 2013

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