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Focus on the common good for sake of the young's future

Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong was right to call for Singaporeans to overcome the competitive instinct and learn the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with one another (Singapore must learn spirit of cooperation to survive disruption; Aug 27).

This is necessary as we raise our sights and look to the future. Only then can we not only survive but also progress in the period ahead.

In our history, we saw competing colonial powers secure domination and exploit our people and environment.

We imbibed and continued this mentality of control and domination. But we are entering a new era, with new challenges in a competitive and conflicted world. Traditional ways can no longer be depended upon. We need new approaches.

To be sure, competition fosters some degree of creativity.

But competition caters only to the private interests of the individual and disrupts the community - private good over the common good. Those who succeed are crowned and those who fail are condemned.

We picture success as a pyramid, where few reach the top and the base is filled with those stepped over in the climb up. This is reflected in income inequality and the wide disparity between the rich and the poor. We steal the lunch of others, but we have not provided a better meal for all to share equitably.

When we turn to more collaboration, we promote a better human relationship.

The need to change from competition to cooperation is urgent and relevant if our young are to inherit a promising future.

It calls for more interaction between the public and private sectors. Let us be open to the process of change and engage in collaborating with one another for our common future.

Yap Kim Hao (Rev Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'Focus on the common good for sake of the young's future'. Print Edition | Subscribe