2012 New Year's resolutions for Singapore
1. Bring back chewing gum
Dear Singapore government, I think we're "old" enough to understand the appropriate use (and disposal) of Wrigley's. Besides, aren't you sick of the world making fun of us? We are.
2. Lose the plan
Planning in Singapore has been meticulously put together down to every yellow line on the roads. It’s resulted in a tight ship, but not everything can, or should, be planned.
Some, like the arts, entrepreneurship and community, need to grow on their own, bubble up organically, experiment, find their own momentum and shape. Can we loosen the leash and let go a little? If we can, we might be pleasantly surprised.
3. Hire service staff who can communicate effectively
Have you recently sat down for a meal in a restaurant only to be served by staff who do not speak English, or worse, expect the customer to order in mandarin, even if he’s a Sikh? Exactly who's providing the service here?
Instead of forcing domestic maids to go for language classes, all foreign service staff should sit for language classes before they are granted their work permit.
After all, English is the official language of instruction in Singapore.
- More on CNNGo: Aimee Chan: Customer service in Singapore, what's that?
4. Stop the banging
Our building frenzy means that there’s a pile driver on practically every corner and if you’re unfortunate enough to live close to construction, the monster can feel like it’s right in your living room.
It wouldn’t hurt our quality of life to slow things down a bit, and allow some peace and quiet to return to our everyday lives.
- More on CNNGo: Singapore in 30 years, according to mrbrown
5. Don’t forget to care and share
In our continuous aspiration to be better and better, we can get caught up in our quest for success -- and some people get left behind.
Being “better” also means extending care and compassion, and making sure that everyone has a meaningful place in society, not just the bright and beautiful, but everyone.
6. Cut the crowds
Our island is so tiny, it's smaller than the red dot that marks it on maps.
Yet its population has doubled in the last 30 years and is on track to hit six million in the very near future. While we all love diversity and multiculturalism, and understand the economic need, perhaps it's time to prune that guest list.
7. Keep online open and free
With the online explosion of heated views during 2011’s two elections, the government is now looking at tightening legislation on local Internet content.
While hate speech of any kind is not desirable, and the unaccountable nature of the Internet makes it easy for vitriol to spew, legislation isn’t the answer.
What is? Accountability, moderation, standards. Easier said than done, but if successful, will lead to a more mature online community, and a more informed nation.
8. Teach less, learn more
We’re not asking for teachers to actually teach less, but more effectively. And in the process lessen the dependence on Singapore's tuition industry.
Also: could the Primary School Leaving Examination be scrapped so that kids below the age of 12 can finally be kids?
- More on CNNGo: Elaine Ee: The Singapore rat race starts at age 7
9. Make Singapore more child-friendly
I know what you’re thinking -- how could this country not be seen as child-friendly?
Try living without a domestic helper or the kindness of a family member for a few days and you’ll re-think your judgment. Having a few by-the-hour crèches at the gym or hairdresser, a supply of good, cheap (and legal) babysitters and a society of individuals who don’t just stare blankly at a woman struggling with a stroller would go a long, long way.
More on CNNGo: Aimee Chan: To maid or not to maid
10. Build more bike paths
As well as making us look more European (and therefore seemingly more sophisticated), this would encourage more people to exercise meaning fewer cars, better safety for cyclists and a road system where people actually look out for each other.
The only trouble is, can cyclists afford the Certificate Of Entitlement (COE)?
11. Spam control
Privacy please. We need regulations -– yes, we’re actually asking for some -- to stop marketing companies and real estate agents from spamming our phones and emails with sales pitches.
They shouldn’t have access to our names and personal details. And with the increase in stamp duty, who would want to buy or sell an apartment to an agent just because they sent you a text message?
12. Jazzing things up
We know there are a couple of golden oldies around, but can someone please open a new old-school jazz bar?
No more trendy clubs with international DJ imports. We don’t need designer interiors with an exorbitant cover charge to match. Just a chill-out joint that sports a decent wine list and the musicians actually play instruments.
13. Curb the taxi trauma
The recent price hikes might be justifiable if there were actually taxis available when we need them.
We’re sick of waiting 45 minutes to book a cab between 7 p.m. and midnight (or even longer when it’s raining).
Fix the booking system or put more drivers on the roads. Or better yet, resolve the MRT situation and we’ll catch the train.
14. Use the cane, not the carrot
Yes, taxis again. Singapore is the only country in Asia where you have to beg for a taxi.
Aren’t cabs a form of public transport? So how is it drivers get to pick and choose their customers/destinations.
There should be a law passed curbing such practices … and at the same time, could all taxi drivers be taught how to drive without all that start-stop braking action, learn to use the GPS system, or at least have a road map handy.
Make them pass a test, or risk suspension.
- More on CNNGo: Aimee Chan: Yes, Singapore drivers really are that bad
15. Can the coupons
It’s 2012 and it’s time to get rid of the antiquated hole-punch car parking coupons. They're frustrating, confusing and environmentally-unfriendly.
What’s wrong with parking meters that take the CashCard system? Electronic, efficient and one integrated system for the whole country -- sounds like Singapore to us.
16. More controversial ad campaigns
You know you’re living in a city that lacks credible edge when 40 shirtless men standing around a store is THE topic of discussion for days.
We’re not just asking for a constant stream of smut or a never-ending flesh parade. But eye-catching campaigns do give us all a good laugh, and more photo opps.
- More on CNNGo: Gasp! Half-naked men spotted in Singapore
17. Less brands, more independents
If shopping (and strolling around shopping malls) is one of Singapore’s favorite pastimes, is it too much to ask for a more diverse retail landscape?
How interesting is it when you go from mall-to-mall, and come across the same formulations of designer brands, chain cafés, fast-food outlets and mass clothing brands?
So nay to more of the usual suspects -- unless they’re sexing things up -- yay to projects such as Blueprint and Parco next NEXT which actually champion and nurture local and regional talent.
- More on CNNGo: Parco next NEXT: Success or failure?
18. More youth-outreach initiatives
We were encouraged this year when the 27-meter carbon fiber Audi Ultra racing yacht docked at Marina Bay. And even more encouraged to hear they were setting up a Youth Academy to encourage local sailors to build their sea legs on a world-class maxi yacht. We need more inspiring non-academic initiatives to give our kids a chance to fulfill their dreams, whatever they may be.
- More on CNNGo: A question of heritage, what's worth saving in Singapore?
19. Please treasure our history
2011 wasn't a great year for Singapore's history.
With the closure of the Tanjong Pagar railway, Old School -- former Methodist Girls' School site -- facing the threat of the bulldozer, the acquisition of Rochor Centre to build the North-South Expressway and plans to run a road through Bukit Brown Cemetery, you have to ask, what's going to be left of old Singapore at the end of this decade?
We need to find a compromise to marry old and new Singapore together. What is a city if it doesn't have a soul?
20. Stop complaining, do something
Next to eating and shopping, Singaporeans love to complain, and they especially love doing it anonymously and via forum posts. We've got one word for you: coward.
If you really feel strongly about an issue, man up, and take action responsibly and with accountability. Get involved in the community and see how you can really make a difference, away from your computer.