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The Issue on Casinos in Singapore from the eyes of a Citizen April 19, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, life challenges, Singapore.
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‘The purity and simplicity of a society gernerate peace & prosperity for the nation’.At least that is what I wrote in mandarin:’民风纯朴, 国泰民安’. And really this is what I feel.

I think this election is by far the most heated one to date; and I will talk about this from a personal and candid view as a local born and raised Singaporean. I wonder how many would take this seriously but I often feel that something is off when I think about the casinos despite the rules being set in place to make sure all is running in order. So far, it has been almost perfect though I can spot a change on the social ground. The casinos do generate billions but the social cost in the long term may be underestimated. That cost, I feel, has a lot to do with changing the social mindset about what ‘survial’ is.

{A} Response to Mr Lim Boon Heng’s emotional reaction.

SM Goh and PM Lee have made their comments in response to the setting up of the 2 integrated resorts that the government understands the implications of the casinos, but feel that the benefits are not obvious to all. Both cited that Mr Lim Boon Heng‘s emotional response came out from him as a devout Catholic, who abides to his religious cause. Mr Lim finally conceded to the idea of building 2 casinos as a way of creating massive number of  jobs for the locals.

So far, the government has put in place strict measures to control gambling within the premises very well, making sure that gambling does not go out of hand. But can this last when it is going to expand? The implications of gambling does not stop physically. It sends signals to people about the changing scenario of what is a brilliant economy and beyond.

The casinos are there to stimulate the economy and therefore in a huge way generate jobs for the locals, mainly for the lower income group. But I still feel that they should go in due course. There are quiet signs of what these casinos are bringining in — mainly values that are inculcated into the minds of many. For the young, they question the existence of these world class gambling dens and more from older kids, who are more than intelligent to figure out what sort of societal trends are coming in. We have a bunch of very bright kids who now question norms. We should be very pleased of their personal development that they do not take what they are given. The sense of national belongingness is far stronger than it was ever before.

[B] Our forebearers.

Our forefathers, who mainly come from China and India, sweat their way through the colonial and the Japanese occupation years by toil and sweat, in the social class where we used to be 3rd class citizens. We’ve made it from ‘coolie’ to first class economy where people are no longer illiterate & unable to control their lives. Their lives were sacrificed but they taught us what success was– industriousness, thrift, excellence in acdemia & at work. The idea of gambling was seriously scorned at. Anyone who gambled or haboured thoughts of gambling was really taught a lesson. And so our grandparents ploughed their years to support a family of usually at least half a dozen on meagre earnings. But their children were usually brought up very well. I always remenber during my childhood days going back to Aljunied to have the weekends spent with my relatives. Those were the days when people were really simple at heart but shared what they had with others. If anyone in the neighbourhood was feeling lost in some way, there would always be help just next door. If it wasn’t right next door, someone along the corridor would come.  They harboured nothing complex at all.

[C] The simple idea is probably a better idea.

Simple in virtue, steadfast in what ever duties they are given — our ancestors came up to who they were by ensuring a purity of minds and a passion for earnesty & hard work, sheer thrift and a pure emphasis in top education. These were the basis to break out from the ‘coolie’ poverty status. From a scrappie education structure that survived because people wanted to be more than great (laid the foundation of industrioiusness & intellectual astutedness) to become what it is today. In any case, success has never been about gambling.

Simplicity through the ages has not dampen our intellectual thought. We grew because we had a pure heart and honesty that many trust.  Our image is that of a squeaky clean society where people respect one another, and that our citizens develop a penchant for learning and tolerance for others. We still have that and I hope we will maintain it without the tarnish of image by any kind.

[D] Something ‘out of point’ — the candidates.

So what is in for the coming election? Based on the candidates, I don’t feel comfortable with many of the new faces. Not because of their ages but because of the way they carry themselves as being lack of substance. When we talk about poverty and life experiences, we don’t expect people who plainly say they have experienced them all when they were younger;or claiming that they come from humble beginnings. It is not enough. Go and mix with the really destitute and go sit and observe the people around you not along the hustle and bustle of city centres.  Notice how some very old folks have to work for a living. Or see how a lot of middle aged workers have to settle for lower pay in an edgy world economy to support their growing children. The atmosphere is different from the 50s, 60s or even the 70s. The struggle is about staying alive in an extremely competitive environment where it is further competed with foreign workers who may not be as competent but comand a lower pay. Many parents think that the only way to survive is to get their children in coveted schools and better still the scholarships. I cannot blame them because this is the very environment that we are in.

Contrary to some belief, we are not that short of talents. Many have gone abroad to study and resided overseas. It is a matter of getting these people back, whose education and experience is probably higher than some whom we have taken in. Of these top calibre people, many are not comitted to politics. On another point, while we are churning out numerous numbers of top graduates; many of whom are not as passionate as our predecessors when it comes to serving the nation. So in that sense, we are going to have a tough time looking for the fine leader who will lead a grand pack of ministers.

What is our future going to be will be dependent on whom we, the citizens of this country, are going to pick. But I do hope that the leaders will seriously look into the role of casinos. Should we continue to use them, they have to fulfill certain objectives. Failing which we should really consider closing them. Still, in the long term, I feel they should really disappear.  — Karen Fu

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