How can Singapore improve its graciousness? Chief of Singapore Kindness Movement has some tips

Dr William Wan, chief of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM). -- PHOTO: T KUMAR
Dr William Wan, chief of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM). -- PHOTO: T KUMAR

SINGAPORE - Singapore scored 61 out of 100 in the latest Graciousness Index released on Tuesday. The Straits Times asked Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement what areas Singaporeans can improve in.

Public debate - It appears to me that we have not learned to engage each other in real constructive debate. In choosing our sides of an argument, we neglect to listen and seem unable to consider viewpoints that run contrary to our own, and the next inevitability follows: name-calling, abusive statements, or worse. And to say the least, that is most ungracious!  This behaviour is also not unique to the online space, but can also spill over into everyday life.

Road users - Other than giving up seats on public transport which has improved every year, every other behaviour related to transport or road usage falls below 6. Our partners like the Land Transport Authority and the public transport organisations have now taken the lead in continuing to encourage more improvement in public transport behaviour, and we have gladly taken a supportive back seat.

Our plans going forward include seeking out partnerships with bodies or associations dealing with private road users such as motorists, cyclists, pedestrians.

Cleanliness/environment - We should treat our shared public spaces (our nation!) in the same way we treat our own homes. It's not just about litter, it can even be as basic as the unhygienic scraps we tend to leave behind at hawker centre tables. We wouldn't do that in our own homes, would we? Even if we had a  domestic helper, we would ensure that the mess is cleaned up immediately.

And when asked what is one area that could help Singapore make a big improvement in its graciousness index score?

Neighbourliness -  While our findings are quite positive about the current state, we also see the desire for more neighbourliness, but some uncertainty, fear or awkwardness on how to get started. If we live in comfortable and positive neighbourhood environments, it will be just so much more pleasant for us. And we will take that positivity and pleasantness to other people in other shared public spaces.