Governments' job to provide platform for pursuit of happiness

Junior college student Lee Song Yang says it is a misconception that it is the Government's role to make us happy ("Not Govt's job to make everyone happy"; Voices of Youth, Wednesday).

I could not agree more.

If you were to visit the many socio-political websites that have sprung up in the past five years, you are bound to get the sense that many believe the Government is responsible for every aspect of their well-being, every problem they face and that, therefore, the solutions lie with the Government.

This is worrying, and Song Yang is right in pointing out that the Government cannot and should not make everyone happy.

Happiness and the achievement of happiness should lie with the individual.

However, while I agree that it is not the Government's job to make everyone happy, it should still be responsible for providing the platform that enables us to achieve happiness.

While the definition of happiness is generally defined by the individual, there are certain things essential for happiness that are common to people around the world, regardless of their cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Take the issue of safety. With the exception of "adrenaline junkies", people find happiness when they feel there is security for themselves and for their loved ones.

I think of an Englishman I know who declares Singapore the freest country he's been to. He says that the safety the country provides him and his family gives him freedom and security.

Education and preparing people to face the world are areas governments should be responsible for.

Most of us have dreams, but in order for us to achieve our dreams, we need jobs or a means to make a living. And to make a living, we need education and training.

Like it or not, individuals need to be responsible for their own welfare. However, governments must be responsible for ensuring that the people have the means to pursue their dreams.

Tang Li

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'Governments' job to provide platform for pursuit of happiness'. Print Edition | Subscribe