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Raymond Han

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Monday with the Editor: Too Much Of The Good Life?

Hi everyone

National Day is upon us again. Tis the time for us individuals to take stock of the changes happening around us on this little island as well as around the world.

As we put out the nation's flag outside our homes to commemorate Singapore's 38th year of independence this Saturday, let us not forget we have come this far because life has been good to us all. Lest you disagree, let me invite you to read the daily newspapers' reports on the unrest, mayhem, bombings and senseless slaughter of innocent civilians taking place around the world even as I write this column.

Then, let me ask you whether you have witnessed such turmoil here in Singapore. Some of us Singaporeans take the peace we have for granted for we have not seen disorder. Because we have had too much of the good life, we become unsettled when we see Singapore go through a rough patch and some of us get retrenched. 

We begin to wonder whether things will get better or worse. Now, isn't that rather sad? It only speaks volumes of our lack of self-confidence. Perhaps, our Government has to share the blame for this - it made life too comfortable for us.

We have become too soft for our own good. We complain that it is difficult to find a job nowadays, but there are many jobs in the cleaning industry waiting to be filled. Just look around us - there are foreigners serving us in the restaurants, food courts and coffeeshops. Along our roads, we see many foreigners working in the sun. The list goes on. 

We can't blame the businessmen for taking in foreigners to work for them. It's because we Singaporeans are not keen on such jobs. And as long as we continue to have this mindset, we can't deny others' the right to hire foreigners. And we certainly can't say honestly that there are no jobs available. The jobs are out there waiting for us to fill - it's just that there are hardly any takers among us Singaporeans. 

So we let workers from neighbouring Malaysia take over such jobs. The strange thing is that our neighbours are only too happy to take over. And they are even willing to get up much earlier than us, hop onto their bikes and make their way through Johore, across the causeway and then travel all the way into town to earn an honest day's wages. Some of them find lodging here and travel home when they get the chance. 

Can we emulate their example? Do we have their spirit of adventure? I daresay no! We have been leading an easy lifestyle and know that we need not resort to such a measure to find work. 

And that's because we have confidence in our Government's ability to rise to the occasion to help us ride out the bad times. So, despite our little grievances with the Government when things go wrong, we nevertheless take for granted that these not-so-rosy times will go away soon.

But, the Government knows it must wean Singaporeans off this habit of depending on it to provide all the answers. And it has been working in the background to get us to learn to fend for ourselves. In recent months, rules have been relaxed to allow Singaporeans to use their homes as offices. Licences have been issued to let people sell cooked food in vans at designated spots around the island. Fees for setting up companies and businesses have been lowered appreciably.

Perhaps, it's time for us to look into planning a future in which our current employer is not the be-all and end-all. We need to realise that lifetime employment with the same employer is a thing of the past. We must get ourselves to accept contract work with our employers as the norm. So, we must upgrade our skills and remain employable with different employers. This means we market ourselves to companies for a fixed-tenure job and remarket ourselves when the contract period ends. 

Those of us in our 40s or older may find it a little too late to embark on such marketing strategies. I suggest we think of becoming entrepreneurs. The Government has relaxed the rules. It is up to us to take up the gauntlet to ensure our family gets fed. Why not give it a try? We may be a wee bit older than we were but I am sure we still have the drive and the gung-ho spirit to pull through.

Have a good week ahead!

 

 

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Monday
4 August 2003

Singapore Time

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