I happened to catch the Singapore’s new PM’s maiden speech as PM ( How could I not – the national TV had retelecast it so many times, not to mention the mobile TV in the bus on my way back home). While I havenâ€™t heard the whole speech, I happened to catch bits and pieces. Media here has been singing praises after praises about it (why am I not surprised..:). i do agree, for most parts. It was a good speech, grounded in reality and with a lot of details, not a general overview or unnecessary optimistic rhetoric. But, there was sthg that amused me- so I have to write it here…
PM Lee was exhorting the Singaporeans to think out of the box – to be less conforming. And he cited a personal example. He was coming back to Singapore from a trip abroad and was at the Singapore immigration counter. If you have been to Singapore immigration, you will know that there are two rows for ‘Singapore passports and Permanent Residents” and about 8 rows for ‘All passports”. Apparently, when PM Lee arrived, there was a long queue at the Singapore passports counter, while the other 8 rows were free. So, PM Lee joined the Singapore passports queue and waited for abt 30 secs. Then he decided to try the other queue and managed to pass through the immigration without much delay. And that, my dear friends, is non-conforming and out-of-the box thinking.
Two things amused me here – doesnâ€™t “All passports” include Singapore passports? Donâ€™t Singapore schools teach subset relationships? And secondly, is this really out-of-the-box thinking? I mean, there is a long queue counter and a no-person counter. Even though you may know you might be turned away at the no-person counter, wouldn’t you just try your luck? I bet PM Lee has done several other out-of-the box stuff in his illustrious life time. Then, why did he choose this example? Is it because this is the extent of non-conforming behavior and out-of-the box thinking he expects of Singaporeans? More like, for things like getting ahead in queues, be non-conforming, but for more important things in life, donâ€™t bother..!
Oh well, I guess I will never know.
Disclaimer: I couldn’t find a script of the PM’s speech to quote exactly. This is from my memory of the speech, as I have heard it. The interpretations and implications are my personal opinions. If you have violent objections, please drop me an email or comment, and I would be glad to discuss this amicably.
PS: I wonder if it is 10 years of living in Singapore that made me write that disclaimer..!