A developed economy, an inadequate society

It is really sad to read about the way some people are treating the bicycles from bike-sharing firms (Bike-sharing firm oBike to lodge police report over bicycle left in canal; ST Online, May 4).

Laws can only do so much to punish those who vandalise the bicycles.

This episode is another indication that Singapore has yet to arrive at an advanced stage of social development.

We are only First World in the economic sense, and lag behind other countries when it comes to kindness, thoughtfulness and maturity.

This includes both locals and foreign residents. Just a few weeks ago, an elderly man was treated ungraciously over a table at a hawker centre (Police reports lodged over dispute at hawker centre, April 25).

Our society is now highly diversified and stratified. There are different vertical and horizontal layers.

More effort is needed to develop a stronger social fabric and keep antisocial behaviour in check. Multi-level, cross-societal participation is likely needed.

Social media is often used to shame individuals but it is not an appropriate channel. Alternative forms of handling are needed.

Instead of a law, maybe an app can be developed for people to flag such behaviour to a social agency created under the Ministry of Social and Family Development, one with the expertise to take the feedback forward. The solution could be a social one.

Our social development needs to be in line with our growth, status and reputation.

As our population grows, more social cohesion is needed.

Yap Hoe Kiat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2017, with the headline 'A developed economy, an inadequate society'. Print Edition | Subscribe