Forum: Pressure cooker society results in bad behaviour

A lunch crowd at Singapore's central business district, on March 29, 2019.
A lunch crowd at Singapore's central business district, on March 29, 2019.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Lim Ang-Yong rightly views Professor Tommy Koh's lament about the behaviour of Singaporeans as "the growing and expressed intolerance of a few of our retired elitists, who are often detached from the changing realities of everyday living complexities in crowded Singapore" (No need to put down those from Third World, ST Online, Oct 12).

In a pressure cooker society like Singapore, many Housing Board flat dwellers who commute by public transport and eat in hawker centres face annoyances of all sorts on a daily basis that encourage us to be selfish and rude.

Walking up to MRT stations or eating in hawker centres, we are interrupted by fund-raisers, promoters and distributors of fliers of all sorts, whom we have little choice but to rudely ignore. We cannot be expected to smile back, listen to their story and politely refuse.

We compete for breathing space along narrow MRT escalators, in crowded MRT trains and in supermarket aisles. We cannot relax on footpaths for fear of injury by a personal mobility device user. Any vacant seat, standing space or short queue is a luxury. We have to deal with noise and dust from upgrading works which are endless and omnipresent in Singapore. Back home, some have to contend with smells and noise from inconsiderate neighbours.

Our kiasu attitude is most evident in the bumper-to-bumper traffic at immigration checkpoints. There is little room for kindness to let another driver cut into your lane.

When we are uptight and agitated constantly, we build defence mechanisms to protect our sanity.

Before we become overly judgmental of Singaporeans, we should be gracious and understanding as to why many have descended to becoming selfish and uncaring.

Seto Hann Hoi (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2019, with the headline 'Pressure cooker society results in bad behaviour'. Print Edition | Subscribe