Vision & Control

More than once since independence, Singapore’s government have been described more than once as a nanny state or being paternalistic. We’ve been a very Asian society where individuals are expected to sacrifice for the greater good of the society and community. Over the years, thanks to the good stewardship and development, individuals have been able to enjoy progressively less sacrifice and more “enjoyment”.

The outcomes that our society enjoys have been used to justify some of our “controls” so to speak. We have good citizens complying to measures from the government partly also because there were great vision from the leaders at the point of independence. I would argue the vision is more important in getting people onboard than the promise of the outcome – because that outcome cannot be guaranteed. But a vision and a commitment to the vision can be assured.

Our leadership needs to recognise that for all the upgraded tools in terms of policy-making, enforcement and technology at surveillance, we might be tempted to think that government can carefully calibrate every movement of the nation and people to achieve good outcomes. This perspective sets us up for failure because it was never the controls that drive the results but the vision that got people’s buy-in to the controls.

This point is very nuanced and I really hope we can see more vision, and commitment to the vision in the work of our leaders.