Forum: Civic-mindedness the real gauge of a First World people

People crossing the road at Shenton Way, on March 29, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

While Professor Tommy Koh (Five tests of a truly First World people, Dec 21) has proposed five tests for Singaporeans to find out if they are first-rate, there is actually only one test needed, the test of civic-mindedness: actions that show concern for the public good. That would include keeping Singapore clean, keeping public toilets clean and caring for the environment.

In highlighting the lack of civic-mindedness among Singaporeans, Prof Koh based his conclusions on observations of behaviour by members of the public. But are these all Singaporeans that have been brought up in our society?

Singapore is such an open society. It is estimated that at any one time, there are more than a million foreigners walking on its streets and using public transport. Many of them are not familiar with what we mean by good behaviour, including standing on the left side of the escalator.

On keeping Singapore clean, Prof Koh says it should start with the practice of getting students to clean their schools. Actually there is a more fundamental problem. It has been reported that in less than a decade, the number of foreign domestic workers in Singapore has spiked about 27 per cent - from about 201,000 in 2010 to 255,800 as of June this year.

This translates to every fifth Singaporean household having a maid. With Singaporeans used to having maids cleaning after them, naturally they would expect professional cleaners to clean up public spaces.

Liu Fook Thim

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