To chup or not to chup?

Is there ever a time when you should not mind your own business?

The Singapore Kindness Movement says yes, there is.

In its third Kindness Conference held today, many of the 300 participants raised the importance of cutting through apathy and calling on fellow Singaporeans to speak up and take action against unkind and ungracious behaviours.

The Conference is part of an ongoing series that aims to engage Singaporeans through open dialogues on the topic of kindness and graciousness in Singapore.

Guest of honour Dr Lily Neo, Member of Parliament, Tanjong Pagar GRC, in her speeech, cited two contrasting behaviours shown by Singaporeans recently - the bad, with grown men verbally abusing a fast food chain's staff over Hello Kitty stuffed toys, and the good, when Singaporeans helped each other during the haze crisis.

She said: "This year the theme for the conference is 'Are you the Bochup kind'? It is a little different from the previous years, but through this cheeky tone, we hope to reach out to the 'bochup' citizens of Singapore and urge them to voice out what THEY think will make a kinder and more gracious society."

Dr Kumaran Rasappan, an avid mountaineer who is best known for his charity work along his journeys, delivered the keynote address. He proposed that being bo chup is a choice, brought about by fear of sticking out, or that by going the extra mile to do a good deed, we are losing out to those who don't. But in his closing, he recalled the old Courtesy Campaign tagline - "kindness begins with you and me" - reminding conference participants that our defence against a bo chup culture is to "be the spark that inspires good".