Way of Living

Squatters who will soon become house owners are to receive courses on ‘manière de vivre’ if we go by the statement made by the Minister of Land and Housing. This statement may raise many a smile, but it is a most laudable initiative indeed. As things stand, not only squatters but other social categories. cutting across the board, should be eligible candidates for the Way of Living courses generously offered by the Honourable Minister.

Some voices may find it most patronizing coming from politicians to lecture on how a category of citizens should behave. It is a misconception in western style democracy to believe that all adult citizens are educated and mature enough to act responsibly, and should feel free to set out their own standard of behaviour. This is what we mean in this column by applying our own discernment and not blindly adopt the whole package of democratic discourse that is already leading to individualistic wild behaviour in other places.

The Chinese government issued guidelines to its citizens on how to behave as tourists in foreign lands after it took cognizance of reports on their misconduct. Maybe after demonizing and destroying a traditional bourgeois lifestyle with all its elegance and refinement during the Revolution and putting the proletariat on a pedestal, a whole generation has been deprived of proper rôle models, and boorish manners gained ground. The metro in Singapore carries electronic messages about to civism, wisdom and ethics for passengers to see daily. Visitors from the West may interpret such a phenomenon as state propaganda to influence citizens, but the practice seems compatible with local culture.

‘Péna manière’ is a complaint often aired in public places over here. So what’s wrong with squatters ?

Not respecting rules, rowdy, noisy, irresponsible and displaying anti-social behaviour? So are quite a number of normal citizens. After being told off for the loud music he was bugging the neighbourhood with, one fellow retorted that he has the right to do what pleases him in his own house! As long as private homes are kept clean, never mind that public places including beaches are unscrupulously littered with all sorts of wastes! Others elbow their way to get to the front line in social gatherings, not to mention irresponsible lack of hygiene and health awareness. The manière de vivre advocated by the Minister should also includes conflict management, advising people not to resort to abusive language and physical violence. For instance, not to take ministers who use foul language with journalists as rôle models, and avoid punching people who accidentally scrape your car.

Applying civilized standards to oneself and others, vaste programme !

* * *

Any society needs regular assessment of its development, and corrective measures be taken to address misconception of fundamentals that create havoc among its members.

Responsible parenting advocated on billboards is another positive sign, and was long overdue, to say the least. Whoever is spearheading the project should be encouraged to carry it out at a national level.

To some parents, raising children amounts to giving them food so that they stay alive, and sending them to school and private tuition. Gosh! You see them ill-speaking of other people in front of their children, sowing the seeds of animosity and hatred for others, very often, their own relatives, unaware that they should be rôle models and promote values of tolerance, respect and love.

Others yell and fight with neighbours and relatives in the presence of their children, causing unnecessary stress and misery. Not only do some parents not know how to raise children, they also venture to take in pet animals, specially dogs, without any idea of how to treat them properly.

Vaste programme again, one might say, tout est à refaire !

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There is a Captain at the steering wheel, the boat is not drifting aimlessly – so we are made to believe judging from SAJ’s frequent presence at the MBC. SAJ’s strong personality makes one forget the pathetic show put up by his ministers to gain media coverage every time they open their mouth.

Indeed, SAJ’s firm stance regarding any potential trouble-makers who dare to threaten internal security is in sharp contrast with the total paralysis of leadership in 1999 during the first days of riots following Kaya’s death. No smart lawyer acting as Saviour came up to pay Rs 10000 to get Kaya out of Alcatraz.

If ever the situation got out of control and SAJ declared a state of emergency, ninety per cent of the population would have supported him. Just as it was obvious that the ruling party was speeding headlong into defeat during the last months of 2014, it is clear to any keen observer that the mood in the country today is: let the government work.

Trying desperately to impose a permanent electoral campaign atmosphere in the country, the unofficial Opposition appears as a team of jokers providing light entertainment to the public. Right now, they are basking in self-delusion if they seriously believe the public is craving for them to come back to power. Any real desire to polish their image should incite them to be more useful and constructive.

  • Published in print edition on 18 September 2015

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