Saturday, March 26, 2005

Society & Me



How do you feel about PM Lee's recent speeches about the elite and the civil service in Singapore?

Living in a HDB flat and seeing my family struggle with monthly expenses, I can't help but feel my place in society is far removed from the "power, influence and wealth" of the elite. When people realize I was from ACS(I), I sometimes qualify that "I'm neither rich nor snobbish."

Having achieved financial independence for more than half a year didn't do that much for me. Sometimes I worry about bills, other times I loosen up and indulge some, but money is constantly on my mind. A lesson for me has been to learn to love through giving and it has certainly put things in perspective.

But enough about me, through my brief work experience thus far, I've come to realize the importance of both leadership and followship. During a recent OBS retreat, placing outspoken individuals into groups with novel problems to solve saw much vigorous talk, fiery sparks and rolling of eyeballs. Kinda like Survivor.

Interestingly it seemed that groups were those that didn't have too many leaders - capable, informal or just wannabe. Perhaps this can scale to apply to our sunny island as well - one political party is just fine, we don't need congressmen bickering over prolonged periods.

Amongst my friends, there's quite a significant number of civil servants - and not only teachers, mind you. Looking at them - and myself - I wonder who will turn out to be successful and who won't. Oh, don't give me that popular interview question about what success means to you. Let's just be money-minded for now.

As I've come to realize, there's absolutely nothing wrong with being in the civil service. In fact, it's great for family-oriented people. But for able and eager fresh grads? Go figure.

PM Lee seemed to prefer AOs who execute and don't question policies, but he did add that good civil servants are able to maintain a broad helicopter view of matters. This is a real and worthy challenge indeed and of a daily sort, though I wonder how many AOs will actually succeed in meeting it.

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