'Yin-yang balance' vital for progress

Intangible values such as graciousness and kindness as well as environmental considerations have been perceived to be lagging behind.

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's call for a "yin-yang" balance is most timely as it comes at a crucial juncture in our history ("Finding 'yin-yang balance' for S'pore"; Tuesday).

In the five decades of development after independence, emphasis has been understandably placed on the survival and competitiveness of our fledgling nation. This meant economic growth and material progress took precedence over values such as care and concern for the elderly, the vulnerable and the lower-income strata of society.

The growing wealth and income inequality between the haves and have-nots has been an area of concern, even as Singapore is seeking to improve its competitiveness in the global arena.

Intangible values such as graciousness and kindness as well as environmental considerations have been perceived to be lagging behind, to the extent that there has been a growing sentiment that more needs to be done to improve social development and the quality of life for the average Singaporean.

Uppermost is the dire need for greater consideration towards our fellow Singaporeans and foreigners. Being caught up in the pursuit of material wealth and the pressures inherent in our increasingly competitive society, we sometimes fail to give enough traction to the intangibles.

We need to strike a balance on, among other things, work-life policies; emphasis on academic qualifications versus allowing students to pursue their passions in a stress-free environment; immigration policies versus the need to maintain our economic competitiveness; the pursuit of material comforts versus achieving a better quality of life; and infrastructural needs versus the need to preserve green spaces.

These are but a few "yin" and "yang" challenges that Singaporeans face as we chart our future progress. Sustainable development and a good standard of living must go hand in hand, so that future generations of Singaporeans will find greater happiness and contentment.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)


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