Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Surviving the Winter of Singapore's Divine Discontent.

So many things happened the past 24 hours !

First, PM Lee gave all Singaporeans a big scare but proceeded to finish off his National Day Rally. Less than 24 hours later, we lost Past President S R Nathan.

I just want to pen several quick thoughts about making the three wishes granted by God.

PM Lee's intention was definitely noble and well-intentioned when he wished for Singaporeans to be divinely discontented but also balanced with wisdom so that they can be grateful to the lives which they have. But ideas like making wishes can be rapidly be perverted by social media.

Here's my take on what can go wrong when Singaporeans start becoming discontented but becomes tempered by wisdom.

a) TFR will remain dip below 1.0 and remain there forever

When parents are discontented, no amount of support is adequate for the raising of children. The warfare waged between parents for the best schools will reach a fever pitch with financial resources being plowed to ensure a seat in local universities. With such high investments being made on children, only an insane parent would have a second child.

Singles being discontented with what they have achieved in life will avoid settling down. They also have the wisdom to be grateful for their single status even though they might wish for more. This is already happening to a segment of the male population here.

b) No one with any smidgeon of talent will work for SMEs. 

Singapore bosses are discontented with employees. Singapore employees want a better workplace. The net effect is that discontented but talented employees will look for MNCs so that they can get a better corporate culture, pay and work-life balance. Once they get a taste of MNC work, they will have the wisdom to be grateful for their working environment.

The net effect is that SMEs are festering pit full of the least talented employees with bosses who are continually dissatisfied with them.

c) Many older Singaporeans will leave for Australia

Genuine discontentment is not a happy state. Ambitious guys like me grapple with it with an obsession only other ambitious guys can understand. This is in spite of financial independence and having a life which looks quite good on paper.

Imagine what Divine Discontentment would mean - I imagine the state of discontentment to be eternal. But wisdom counteracts by knowing when Discontentment ends. There will come a point whereby Singaporeans become discontented with discontentment. After all, the winter of discontent is destined to become a glorious summer and Singaporeans only have themselves who can play the role of the Son of York.

Discontented people get old, they find a society which can give them more work-life balance, to be able to invest their hard earned money in a different jurisdiction which gives them a high quality of life.

Facing Eternal Discontentment, Singaporeans may leave for place like Australia where no one has wished for discontentment. Where the capital accumulated through hard work can be invested to give a modest lifestyle in the countryside net of taxes. Where children will not constantly be judged for their mediocrity.

Fortunately for us, PM Lee kept one wish in reserve for Singaporeans for the future.

Right now, I am still thinking about how future generation of citizens, faced with the prospect of permanent Divine Discontent but also infused with Wisdom would word this final wish.

What would you wish for ?


  1. Chris,

    I think animals and plants sharing planet earth with us would wish for less Divine Discontent in humans.

    We are sucking up all the resources and crowding out other species as if planet earth belongs to us and us alone...

  2. But PM Lee is the PM of humans.

    Not plants !

  3. Sorli, sorli.

    I go back to hug my tree now.