Give leeway for creativity to flourish

I commend the Jurong-Clementi Town Council for taking time to evaluate the issue of the Christmas decorations outside an HDB flat and for giving its approval for the display (Christmas decor on ledge of HDB block can stay after all; Dec 15).

It can be very difficult to make a call on where to draw the line when it comes to regulating unconventional initiatives.

If an initiative does not pose any safety, stability or security threat to the community, then the authorities should engage the key stakeholders behind the initiative and understand the situation better before deciding to impose any restrictions.

If the authorities are over-enthusiastic in applying restrictions, they may unwittingly stifle creativity, and may not be harnessing people's potential and energy to do good.

To make matters worse, if people believe there are too many restrictions on any activity, their fears and concerns may hold them back from stepping up and playing their part to help better their environment.

The major currencies of the new economy are creativity and innovation. Therefore, we have to continue to give people the space and freedom to pioneer new ideas and initiatives so that we can leapfrog our competitors and achieve not just incremental but also radical results.

We should also encourage more bottom-up and peer-to-peer initiatives so there will be stronger buy-in of the nation-building process and greater participation from all walks of life to improve our economy and society.

Within the community, people should exercise more tolerance and let others explore and pioneer new ideas, which could end up giving joy to everyone.

New initiatives may add colour and spice to the fabric of society and make Singapore a better home.

Patrick Liew Siow Gian (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2018, with the headline 'Give leeway for creativity to flourish'. Print Edition | Subscribe