Singapore must not forget its 'heartware'

It is sad, but true, that the worth of a person today is increasingly measured by the salary he commands, the type of car he drives, the grandeur of the house he lives in and the luxurious lifestyle he can afford (Beware casual snobbery that shows contempt for ordinary folk; Aug 12).

What is more worrying is that this reality is slowly but surely causing an increasing dichotomy in perceptions and sentiments between the elite and the ordinary folk, and between governing bodies and the man in the street.

It does not help when communication is beset with implications of "not listening to feedback", or a "talking down approach" to issues raised.

It is further aggravated when ordinary folk who are struggling to make ends meet conclude that those in authority lack empathy and that those making policies do not understand the sentiments on the ground.

My work as a general medical practitioner allows me to interact with people from different levels of society and the feedback given to me is far from encouraging.

It would seem that many organisations and agencies are far more interested in projecting a good image than in solving the problems of society.

Written queries and requests are often given standard answers, which elaborate on written policies but which mean very little to those who still face the same problems.

I am also concerned about the responses of the younger generation, who pepper their comments with vulgarity, showing little respect for the office of those who are given the responsibility to govern.

There seems to be little awareness of where we have come from as a nation, as well as an increasing sense of entitlement.

In the early years of our struggles as a nation, the general populace felt that the leaders were one with them.

The people were willing to endure hardship when they sensed that there was a unity of purpose and objective.

With this growing dichotomy mentioned above, the question that begs to be answered is whether we, as a nation, can weather future crises with the same resolve that was seen in the early years.

As a nation, we cannot afford to progress with just the hardware and not the "heartware".

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore must not forget its 'heartware''. Print Edition | Subscribe