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Thursday, February 05, 2004 


I'm heartened to know there are Singaporeans who believe that money isn't everything. I hope that I never forget that... Of course, there are those also those who believe that money is progress, like the other letter-writer in today's forum page. And he quotes LKY too:

"My point to Mr Stefansson is that if one stops striving to achieve more, to be better than one is now, to set a higher target once the target is reached, one has stopped progressing.

Why do you think Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew is exhorting Singapore not to rest on its laurels and stay at 30,000 feet? He thinks that Singapore can and should climb to 36,000 feet." - - PETER TEO BOON HAW

Exactly. WHY? Mr Teo, progress for the sake of progress, is why Singapore is the way it is today, a place with no respect for the past and no sense of the present. We are obssessed with better. We are obssessed with new. So much so that one of our tabloids - more than a decade old - is called "The New Paper". An apt name, come to think of it - one which describes Singaporean mentality. Building too small? Tear it down! Replace it with something bigger, something better, something new. Nevermind that the building is still in perfect working order. Nevermind that the building holds memories dear to Singaporeans. Nevermind that renovations were just carried out a few years ago. Why have pseudo-new when you can have a brand new, bigger, better building? Progress? Mr Teo, think hard about why Singaporeans are so depressed nowadays. I say it's because we've been told - no, ordered - that staying at 30,000 feet is not progress, Not good. Ironic that he quotes Ben Franklin saying, "Who is rich? Someone who realises he has enough."

Maybe we should realise that we have enough. We complain about not having things to do when the reality is that the weekend comes and we are too tired to do anything. Why? Progress. We have to, we must, climb to 36,000 feet... then 50,000 feet. And then we'll finally reach the outer limits of our atmosphere. Suddenly, we'll realise that we can't breathe and that we're about to - literally - burst.

Easy for a professional bum to say all this though... right? As I said at the start, I hope my belief that money is not everything holds even after I enter the working world.

Is chasing after money good or bad? - The Straits Times, Forum Page, FEB 5, 2004

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I APPLAUD Mr Paul Stefansson for dispensing very wise advice at the start of a new year in his letter, 'Money, money, it's a rich man's woe' (ST, Jan 31).

After the momentous events of the past few years, one has to realise that, at the end of the day, there is more to life than chasing money.

While my peers and my husband's moved from Housing Board flats to condos, we remained in our HDB flat. While our friends moved on to own cars, we stuck with the efficient public-transport system.

We are living on a single income for the fourth year so that our son can have a full-time mum to look after him, and imbibe our values.

While we live simply, we have created opportunities for our child to see the world, to realise that there is so much more outside this island. There are flowers to pick, open fields to run in, birds to chase; on the other hand, there are also hungry people and not all children are playing, some are working.

At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves, what do we really want?

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