Give up 'entitlements' to become more civic-minded

I agree with Mr Christopher Burchell-Davies that pragmatism has an impact on civic-mindedness (Rein in pragmatism to spur civic-mindedness; Jan 17).

Pragmatism breeds a "me first" mindset, especially in an open economy without any state social safety net.

Meritocracy is one of the root causes for pragmatism. It contrasts and divides the "entitled" and those aspiring for the same "entitlements".

The social divide is a constant sub-conscious reminder of what we have to give up for the sake of grace, thoughtfulness and social responsibility.

For example, a family living in Changi may have to think hard about whether or not to get their child priority admission to their old primary school located in Bukit Timah.

Not doing so means the child can be enrolled at a school nearer home, thus reducing the daily travel time and stress.

As a result , the parents can spend more quality time with the child, and the child may have more play time at home too.

An elderly owner of a detached house in district 10 may have to decide whether or not to claim the privilege of getting dental care at heavily subsidised Pioneer Generation rates.

Not doing so would reduce the queue for others waiting for dental appointments.

To spur true civic-mindedness and thoughtfulness, we need to re-think some of our policies on meritocracy, our measure for success and our sense of entitlement.

By doing so, we can endeavour to narrow the social divide and precipitate more and equal opportunities for all Singaporeans to compete and succeed in their dreams for the future and the pursuit of happiness.

Sum Kam Weng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline 'Give up 'entitlements' to become more civic-minded'. Print Edition | Subscribe