Foreign Insight: The Foundation of Singapore Culture

(Business Lounge Journal – Foreign Insight)

The challenge I think for our two countries, is to be able to pass this on to future generations, to younger generation, so it doesn’t become we take something for granted and that we have to ensure that the younger generation to come up to us also develop that kind of comfort and understanding the relationship. I think that’s the challenge for us.

BL: Business Lounge Journal

AK: Anil Kumar Nayar

BL: Well to admit that, Singaporean people has working culture and diligent culture, which is good. Can you describe us some more on the working mentality of the Singaporean people and both government and citizen alike?

AK: I think, to understand the Singapore society, you need to look at our history and we are among, I would say, regroup of countries where independence was actually trust upon us. We receive our independence suddenly and that states where we were not completely prepare for it. We did not have any natural resources and niche entirety Singapore survival was dependent on the quality of the people and the ability to work with the government. So, there are few important foundation, I would say, for Singapore which let to our survival, our growth, and to some extend our success, and also this foundations are very important for us going forward. I just highlight three.

First of all, I think Singaporeans accept that, for us to survive and to continue growing. Singapore needs to be relevant. So, it’s always a question in the mind of the government, businesses people, how can Singapore stay relevant to the rest of the world. The moment we are irrelevant we are not important, we do not play any positive role in the international system. Than Singapore become irrelevant, and therefore that would be serious trap to our survival and our growth. To stay relevant obviously we have to be competitive, so whether it’s our education system, whether it’s how plug we are into the international system, we need to be competitive and I think that something that all Singaporean accept.

The second, I would say pillar in our growth would be a good governance. No country can do well if the governance is weak or poor or ineffective, so this is something that the people and the government has constantly focus on improving our system to make sure that the government that is required for a country like Singapore, whether its quality of service, political leadership, and in term of the people trust in the government are remains high quality. Now on that’s call, one expect that we are very … very serious about is our focus in ensuring that our system remains clean, that corruption is never tolerated. It is never accepted. So this is an important part of the Singapore society, if you go to the ordinary citizen, every person are ready to be the government official. This is something that all of us hold very strongly too.

Lastly, as we now Singapore is multi ethnic, multi religious society. And this is very important part of the Singapore story, and this is very important part of our survival and our growth as a country. It is not a country where one ethnic group or one religious group dominates everybody else. There is plurality, and we see that as a strength but that’s also something fragile so no effort, no attempt to disturb inter religious or inter-ethnic relation in Singapore be tolerated. On contrary we are constantly trying to find the base to strengthen the links between the religious group and various ethnic group. I think this is the important foundation I would say of that Singapore society that Singapore mentality.

BL: Between Singapore and Indonesia, there are some Asian social cultural similarities, after longstanding of 50 yrs relationship, how do you see this social cultural movement between both countries?

AK: I think as people in Asia and Southeast Asia, the people of Indonesia and the people of Indonesia over the last I would say more than 50 years have built a good understanding. I am very happy to hear all the time, when my Indonesian friend say that when they visit Singapore they feel very comfortable. They feel very at ease and many of them say it’s like our second home. They do not find anything alien or difficult to adjust in Singapore. Likewise and happy to say that Singapore friends who visit Indonesia also feel very comfortable in Indonesia, the language, the food, and the overall friendliness of the people. I think this is something that we should not take for granted.

The challenge I think for our two countries, is to be able to pass this on to future generations, to younger generation, so it doesn’t become we take something for granted and that we have to ensure that the younger generation to come up to us also develop that kind of comfort and understanding the relationship. I think that’s the challenge for us.

BL: Singapore and Indonesia has set of different values for in cents about hard working and diligent from Singaporean people. Actually there are things that we from Indonesia can learn and improve our selves. For good things of course. But however do you see some values in Indonesian people that can be learned from Singaporean people perhaps?

AK: Well. I always very … very uncomfortable about stereotypes and saying that one group of people behave on this way and another group of people behave on that way. I think the important point here is that we are constantly learning from each other and we are constantly trying to build relationship with each other. Of course I would say that Indonesia being such a diverse country. Even to see that Indonesian people like this or like that would be difficult because this is such a diverse country. What I would focus on is to see how we can synergize and find strengths, for example in Singapore, yes we are very focus on going about things that very organize, the methodical way. But in the same time we recognize that on today’s global setting, you need to be innovative, you need to be creative. And here I would say our Indonesian friends at least in my experience here, the young people will focus on creativity, the ability to adjust to changing situation. This is very important strengths that Indonesia friends have. And I think we need to bring the two strengths together. I think that would be good, not just by literally but by the region as the whole.

BL: Ok. We can learn each other for the better future right?

Business Lounge Journal/VMN/BLJ

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