include("cmp.php");

Ultimately it’s about culture

Saw a letter in the Straits Times Forum at this start of the month, which came from a school teacher who argued that having smaller class sizes helped to foster “innovative” thinking. The forum letter can be found at: [LINK]

She’s right. It easier to generate and encourage discussion with a smaller group. Universities, for example work on the principle that you have lectures, which is a time to listen to a learned professor drone on about something or other. Then you have your seminars, which are smaller group discussions and supposed to be where you do your real learning (at Goldsmiths in the late 1990s, you had to attend a minimum number of seminars to graduate but nobody cared about your attendance at lectures). Churches work on a similar system – there is the sermon and then the private sessions.

You’re more likely to be open up here:

Than here.

In Asia, where “face” is an integral part of culture and the message of how the needs and rights of the individual are always secondary to that of a group, you’ll find that people are highly reluctant to stand out and express themselves. Government press conferences in Singapore, are the perfect example of this. Unlike the mad scramble of the White House press briefing room, our press conferences are inevitably quiet. It takes a while for reporters to ask questions and the people conducting the press conference don’t actually like questions.

The one personal example that comes to mind is back in 2006 when, during the visit of the late Saudi Crown Prince Sultan, who was giving the Singapore Lecture. I was asked to brief the Saudi corp-comms team. Told them that in the post 9-11 world, they had to be prepared for “awkward” questions about terrorism and the price of oil, but then I assured them they would have a totally different problem – a lack of questions. Interestingly enough, I was proved right. The Crown Prince delivered his lecture. The Chairman, who was then Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, opened the floor to a single “NON-TIME-WASTING” question.

This incident highlights one of the undiscussed aspects of fostering independent thinking that’s often left out of the discussion – namely culture. The size of the group or the discussion is irrelevant if it happens in a place where the culture does not encourage independent thought.

That particular Singapore lecture was a perfect example. It was actually accepted that a government official could declare the nature of questions asked at a public event where media would be present. As with the word “responsible,” who is to decide on what constituted “time-wasting.”

When you work in a system where the man speaking is the person with power over your livelihood and shown a willingness to use that power – you learn to tread very carefully. Our first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew was clear that the media would serve his agenda rather than the other way round. There were no defined “OB” markers as in places like Saudi Arabia (don’t touch Islam or Royalty) or Malaysia (No Bumiputra Issues) and so editors learnt to er of the side of caution. Rewards for “independence” were not rewarded and “complying” meant a safe and comfortable life. I think of veteran journalist, Clement Mesenas who led the last journalist strike in 1971. He once stated that the success of the strike was in a way the downfall of independent journalism – the government saw to it that journalists were paid well and it was not in their interest to “rock the boat.”

A look back at another press event where I was invited to. Our then Minister of Communications, Dr. Lee Boon Yang (who is interestingly enough Chairman of Singapore Press Holdings) gave a prepared speech. Then, Carl Bildt, former Swedish Prime Minister delivered his speech. Even the Ministry of Communications had to admit that the Swedish Minister simply outshone ours. The reason is simple, our minister operates in an environment where he arrives at events and tells people what to do. The Swedish minister operates in an environment where he is constantly judged and has to answer questions. Carl Bildt is comfortable being open in public with people who question and think differently. Dr. Lee is not.

It’s this simple. If you want to really foster independent thinking, you have to ensure that there is a culture that does not punish people who raise questions. You need a system where those in authority are comfortable with having a dialogue rather than giving dictation. The size of your classes will not matter as long as the culture does not permit discussion and independent thought.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be.

 

 

yyy
READER COMMENTS BELOW

16 Responses to “Ultimately it’s about culture”

  • Culture?:

    I notices one thing when I work with South Asian.
    When you ask them questions, there will not be direct answer.
    Yet when their own people ask them question, suddenly the group knows how to resolve it.
    This has become an Indirect bullying practices by the South Asian.
    Learning from them can be difficult. Of course there are exceptional cases.
    Once they learned from us, they will channel you to another department, let you learn new skillset. At the end, you cannot take it and have to leave the organization.
    I AM very concern with the MASSIVE influx of South Asian into SG if this is NOT UNDER CONTROL.!!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Let's be clear:

    It is a big deception to call oppression a culture.

    Take Peru during its dictator days. Oh, it’s their culture to arrest, torture and kill anyone they want.

    Please stop bootlicking and whitewashing.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • lip-service concern:

    //I AM very concern with the MASSIVE influx//

    White monkey idiots and gang are too cocooned in their own ownself-check-ownself-one-curry-party-function bubble (“nicely rewarded” with a lot of doggie boys to ensure it ??) that they cannot REALLY appreciate (perhaps lip-service concern and appreciation ???) about the ground reality lived by average daft sinkies ???

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • to raise the ranking of 160th:

    //It’s this simple. If you want to really foster independent thinking, you have to ensure that there is a culture that does not punish people who raise questions. You need a system where those in authority are comfortable with having a dialogue rather than giving dictation. The size of your classes will not matter as long as the culture does not permit discussion and independent thought.//

    when you have 4 = 5 and selected = elected, you know that the system is anointing a few (the aristocrats ??) to LORD over the rest ??? generally, here is not for “independent thinking” (if it too questioning on the white monkey gang and their policies ??) but about trying to raise the ranking of 160th to perhaps 180th ???

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • mrWie:

    You hit the nail!
    And that kind of culture is folstered at our school,
    right from the beginning!

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s a govt agenda.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • True Blue Singaporean:

    @ culture,

    I have the same experience with the PRC and even the Malaysians. They just support themselves and form gangs against locals. You might have noticed that once a Malaysian or PRC gets into a senior position in a project or organization, then soon all the top positions are taken by them. They are aggressive, unlike Sinkies. I am very concerned with the HUGE , MASSIVE influx of them numbering into millions and probably more bigger in population now than true blue Singaporeans

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • The Machiavellee Anti-Culture:

    “It is dangerous for a ruler to trust others. He who trusts others can be manipulated by others… People are submissive to power, and few of them can be influenced by doctrines of righteousness.”

    - Han Fei Tzu, Father of Chinese Leegalism

    Isn’t it safer to Pofma, more secure to Fica? … To hell with FreePressIndexes and shit the Oxfam rankings…. now let’s get our call boy AhLi to talk crediblity cock & sing the patron’s song…..don’t we have our own good ole Bala’s Mendacity Index?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • FTs are creating jobs:

    //When you ask them questions, there will not be direct answer.
    Yet when their own people ask them question, suddenly the group knows how to resolve it.//

    white monkey idiots and gang have open-leg policy inviting hungry chat-ba-lang FTs to steal jobs from daft sinkies lar but fool daft sinkies (through their white monkey propaganda ??) that such so-called FTs are creating jobs for daft sinkies hor ??? how idiotic such white monkey reason can it get hor ???

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Taleban:

    “Saw a letter in the Straits Times Forum at this start of the month, which came from a school teacher who argued that having smaller class sizes helped to foster “innovative” thinking.”
    The opportunity for a smaller class came and went away .
    When the school enrolment fell, instead of having a smaller class of students and or operate a single session school, the MOE merged the schools and up goes the class room size.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Shenkoji Buchikonya:

    Ultimately it’s about culture?
    The author makes an all too common mistake regarding his Saudi friends(???) Did he engage fully in the search of their personal opinion on the subject, or simply accept his ‘hire’ package? Does he mean “awkward” through his illogical desire? Or “awkward” through accumulated knowledge, examined thought and evidentiary experience? What “slippery” words he choose “awkward” and “terrorism”?

    In any discussion, multicultural or otherwise, basic facts must be accepted and eventually agreed upon if differing perspectives are comparatively discussed, examined, and learned from.

    I deal with culture clashes all of the time. My students are from all over the world and sometimes are shocked when they find out the cultural norms of their fellow classmates, but they often learn a lot in the process. I love when students like a veil wearing Saudi woman befriends a miniskirt and heels wearing Japanese woman, which happened last term. My favorite was a classroom friendship between a 50 year old Vietnamese fisherman and a 15 year old Latino kid trying to do extra work after high school. These students may come from very different places, cultural norms, and backgrounds, but somehow they figure out how to build bridges to understanding and appreciation.

    We should really try to make a point of being more open minded about different cultures — it is actually what this country should based on not xenophobes.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Culture?:
    I notices one thing when I work with South Asian.
    When you ask them questions, there will not be direct answer.
    Yet when their own people ask them question, suddenly the group knows how to resolve it.
    This has become an Indirect bullying practices by the South Asian.
    Learning from them can be difficult. Of course there are exceptional cases.
    Once they learned from us, they will channel you to another department, let you learn new skillset. At the end, you cannot take it and have to leave the organization.
    I AM very concern with the MASSIVE influx of South Asian into SG if this is NOT UNDER CONTROL.!!

    This is racist …written by none other than PSP or supporters of PSP…pure and simple.

    If you vote in Opposition, Singapore will spiral downwards and go into civil war.

    Be warned. Singaporeans and newly minted citizens do not vote PSP.

    PAP supporters please print/distribute/share my post.
    In Dollar$ We Tru$t. Prai$e the Dollar$. Glory be with the Dollar$

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaperer, Betterer, Fasterer

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Shenkoji Buchikonya:
    Ultimately it’s about culture?
    ..
    ..
    We should really try to make a point of being more open minded about different cultures — it is actually what this country should based on not xenophobes.

    Just curious:
    How open minded are you towards such culture:
    1. actively promoting LGBT life style and promoting it to young school children ?
    2. actively promoting X religion and promoting it to people of different religion ?
    3. actively promoting cheating through the use of 10 years series ?

    PAP supporters please print/distribute/share my post.
    In Dollar$ We Tru$t. Prai$e the Dollar$. Glory be with the Dollar$

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaperer, Betterer, Fasterer

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Shenkoji Buchikonya:

    Your phrasings here are loathsomely euphemistic.
    “Moral Disputes or Cultural Differences?” My fees are exorbitant. My profession is advise, not MEET, BEFRIEND high-level politicians.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    @ Shenkoji
    I am just a small prawn …not high level politicians with millions dollars salary.

    So, what is moral and what is culture ?

    Read carefully how it was define here:

    Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

    https://www.livescience.com/21478-what-is-culture-definition-of-culture.html

    So, based on above definition, moral is culture and culture is moral.

    If a group of people kept doing abnormal stuff but say it is normal, and it became a way of live for that group of people, is it culture ?

    PAP supporters please print/distribute/share my post.
    In Dollar$ We Tru$t. Prai$e the Dollar$. Glory be with the Dollar$

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaperer, Betterer, Fasterer

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Shenkoji Buchikonya:

    I believe you are making the classic naive error of confusing “what is moral?” with “what is culture?” It’s almost circular. First, “moral truths” don’t exist – only moral beliefs. Secondly, distinguish between beliefs that people has about how they should live their own lives and beliefs that they feel should be enforced upon others. Is it really all that hard?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Singaporeans R Free Riders:

    Shenkoji Buchikonya:
    I believe you are making the classic naive error of confusing “what is moral?” with “what is culture?” It’s almost circular. First, “moral truths” don’t exist – only moral beliefs. Secondly, distinguish between beliefs that people has about how they should live their own lives and beliefs that they feel should be enforced upon others. Is it really all that hard?

    No… not at all.. in simple term, it is called what is poison to you is food to others or what is junk to you is treasure to others.

    what is moral to you is not moral to others.

    what is democracy to you is not democracy to others.

    PAP supporters please print/distribute/share my post.
    In Dollar$ We Tru$t. Prai$e the Dollar$. Glory be with the Dollar$

    GE2024.PAP.Guarantee.Win.Again
    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Singaporeans must be Cheaperer, Betterer, Fasterer

    GD Star Rating
    loading...

Leave a Reply

 characters available


Scroll Down For More Interesting Stuff


Member Services
Self-SupportMembers LoginSelf-Support
Sponsored Advertisement
Search On TR Emeritus
Sponsored Advertisement
Announcement
Advertisements
Visitors Statistic
Latest Statistic

UA-67043412-1