Singaporeans should be proud of work ethic

Construction workers building a scaffold against the backdrop of the Central Business District.
Construction workers building a scaffold against the backdrop of the Central Business District. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

While in Singapore on a visit from Australia recently, I watched a TV show in which a group of people informally discussed Singapore's use of foreign workers as a means of maintaining economic growth.

Towards the end of the show, one of the speakers stated, with much feeling, that he was proud of Singapore's achievements and he was proud to be a Singaporean.

How wonderful it is when a person can, for all the right reasons, say they are proud of their country.

As a fairly frequent visitor, it is most apparent to me that Singaporeans are a civilised people living under civilised laws and institutions.

One particular civilising effect has been the Parliament's rejection of a welfare state in favour of that time-proven tradition known as the work ethic.

This is a tradition whereby man must live by the labour of his own hands; a tradition whereby wealth and comfort are attained by honesty, industry and endeavour; a tradition that unleashes a boundless striving we know as ambition.

The sum of all this is a prosperous country in which the worker has a share commensurate to his contribution.

Regarding the use of foreign workers, it must be noted that they are, by definition, workers. By the sweat of their brow, they actively contribute to Singapore's economy.

If anybody thinks that the aches and pains occasioned by foreign workers are difficult to bear, try standing upright under the crushing and truly punishing weight of a welfare system.

Try getting up to go to work each morning knowing that a sizeable proportion of the population will be staying home - the unashamed recipients of gratuitous incomes funded by the taxes that you are working to pay.

Then, having set off to your place of employment, the pavements you walk are obstructed by vagrants, sleeping drunks and able-bodied beggars, all of whose lifestyles you are forced by law to finance. Then, you will know and feel real pain.

But happily for Singaporeans, living in a civilised country which they can be rightly proud of, they are spared this pain.

We, visitors, can only look on with envy.

Christopher Hopkins
Australia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2015, with the headline 'Singaporeans should be proud of work ethic'. Print Edition | Subscribe