The Straits Times
Published on Nov 27, 2012

Simple test to gauge the 'kampung spirit'


ARE Singaporeans really emotionless ("Strong feelings over 'emotionless S'poreans'"; last Friday)?

This question has surfaced following the Gallup poll that ranked Singapore as the world's most emotionless society, based on responses to questions such as "Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?".

For those who disagree with the results, here's another self-assessment test that they can take:

- It's a rainy day. You are at a traffic junction holding an umbrella when you notice a pedestrian without one. Do you walk up to him and offer to share your umbrella?

- When you exit the lift, do you say "thanks" to the stranger holding the lift door for you?

- Do you automatically hold the door for the person behind you?

- As the first person to enter the lift, do you assume the role of holding the door for the other passengers, or do you step to the back of the lift after pressing the button for your floor?

- Do you thank the cleaner as he wipes and clears your table at the hawker centre?

- When you hop on a bus, do you smile or say "hello" to the driver?

- Have you ever smiled at a stranger?

- Have you ever offered to help a tourist poring over a map even if he had not asked for help?

- Do you make time for small talk with your neighbours?

- Do you hang up the phone on a telemarketer before he finishes his third line?

This is a simple test that not only gauges how expressive we are, but also how strong the human-to-human connectivity is within our society, that is, the "kampung spirit".

We can give many reasons to explain our "emotionless" state, but it all boils down to whether we are intuitive to the moods and needs of the people around us, or if we are too wrapped up in our own feelings and issues.

I hope we can find a way to bring back the kampung spirit of old, starting at the school level.

The day when students (and their parents) are no longer focused only on competing to get into top schools, but instead look out for one another and for others in society, is the day I would look forward to in Singapore.

Ng Wee Chew (Ms)