Instil gracious habits of timely replies, committing to invitations

Singaporeans demand prompt service in all their dealings with other people - whether it is at work or while shopping, eating and so on.

When they ask for a quote, for a report to be done or when ordering food, they demand immediate responses.

Yet, when it comes to replying or acknowledging the receipt of anything, or when it comes to payment for work done, they take their time and often do not respond until a reminder is sent.

Why is this so?

This trait carries the whiff of selfishness, in the sense that it is a bias towards one's interests.

Is there hope for change? Perhaps, but only if adults change and pass it on to the young.

Another Singaporean habit is that of turning down at the last minute an invitation to a dinner, birthday party, wedding or other function after accepting it.

The cancellation can even be done as late as on the day itself or a few hours before the event, for a variety of reasons.

Doing so when one is sick is understandable, but turning down a possibly boring event for a seemingly more enjoyable one with friends is something which should not be done.

Such behaviour shows a lack of commitment.

When I was in England, I was made aware that the acceptance of an invitation is a serious commitment. Even if one were invited to another, grander celebration after the acceptance, one was expected to honour the earlier invitation and reject the later one.

I hope that our society will be one that is not afraid of commitment and that people will honour their given word.

This is crucial as so many important matters - such as marriage and what happens after election to public office - depend on a person's commitment.

Singapore would be a much more mature and gracious society if commitment and courtesy were ingrained in each citizen before SG100.

Is that an unrealistic goal?

Patricia Maria De Souza (Ms)