(Published - ST Forum, Online Story. June 27, 2007)
In view of the cases of violence and abuse on buses, a host of social issues must be examined.
These cases continue to prove that there are people among us who lack graciousness, courtesy and civic-mindedness.
Perhaps, the perpetrators of abuse and violence are themselves victims of stress and pressure, on many different levels.
Stress levels in a country or city can increase with a growing population. As Singapore may accommodate over six million people in the near future, it will be highly unlikely stress levels will go down. This will probably be compounded by increasing competition for scholarly and professional excellence, extending to that of other material aspirations the Singapore Dream encompasses.
Laws that protect victims of abuse and violence only serve as remedy and legitimate retribution for violators, but more has yet to be done to prevent the problem in the first place.
A society consisting of people who are highly strung and less than gracious is indicative of the existing social and cultural environment.
According to http://www.happyplanetindex.org/list.htm which charts how happy people in various countries are, Singapore ranks a lowly 131 out of 178 countries.
Since the Singapore Government has the habit of benchmarking our economic practices with those of other countries, perhaps we could also follow the social practices and programmes of other nations to lower the stress levels and make Singaporeans a little happier.
Ho Chi Sam