Monday, 31 August 2009

Singapore’s got Cash and a New Extreme Skate Park!

The 'Y' generation has it good in Singapore.
But many young Singaporeans do not seem to recognize the fact.  They tend to complain a lot - on almost any subject.
Some may dismiss my sentiments as misguided by suggesting that with a Third World background I have low expectations. However, those Singaporeans who have lived in the First World will know that there is more than a grain of truth in what I say.
Like any society, Singapore has many imperfections.
Certainly, debates surrounding policies may be less vibrant than in more mature democracies. Yet, as is important in a relatively small society, consensus and consultation is a prime motivator underpinning significant policy shifts.
Singapore is more open today. Plays with openly gay themes are being reviewed in the Straits Times. The internet is amok with sentiments that would have got people sued and bankrupt less than a decade ago.
And, of course, skateboarders are no longer considered a curse on society.
In the past, many Singaporeans may have considered skateboarders and other 'urban sports people' as a public nuisance.
Today extreme sports are supported by the government.
Official patronage can make a difference when the government has cash. Singapore does have cash and can throw money at problems because of its legendary fiscal prudence.
Look a little further, say at the US and the UK, and you will notice that these governments' are unable to spend 'real' money. The only funds available to them are borrowed from China and the oil rich Arab countries.
After the recent bank bail outs, it is not outrageous to suggest both nations are technically bankrupt.
Meanwhile here in Singapore, the Prime Minister officially inaugurated a new extreme skate park facility. The park cost SGD 8 million to build and was the outcome of a consultation process with young Singaporeans.
Transforming a society is a slow process. Government bureaucracies and the proverbial 'Establishment' alter attitudes at a glacial pace. Implementation of change is even slower.
The 'Y' generation's feedback is essential in encouraging change but so is an awareness of the Law of Unintended Consequences. Change does not always take us to where we were hoping to go. 

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