The reason why when there’s a fire, Singaporeans would sit down and wait for instructions


Last Updated on 2016-09-04 , 11:09 am

There’s always a joke: When there’s a fire, Singaporeans would sit down and wait for instructions.

Before I enlisted in the army, I was told by many friends: Go in and follow instructions for two years. Initially, I did not follow the advice, for I’m a Gen-Yer—we’re thinking soldiers! No—soon, I realized I was also following instructions. Maybe not exactly blindly, but definitely following.

In life, people also follow instructions. You would seldom see a Singaporean protest—they would follow instructions, then go home, log in online anonymously and complain. The next day, he would continue to follow instructions.

Have we been trained to be a robot?

Ever since we were young, a strict instruction has been implicitly passed down from every adult: Study hard, get a good job, marry. Don’t ask questions. Don’t test the system. When we are in school, we do whatever homework teacher gives us. Heck, once, in my school (which is not too long ago, in fact), we were given Powerpoint slides to study. We were analysing the components of English language but were given a comparison between Spanish and English sentence structure. After cracking our brain for a while, we then realized we were given the wrong slides.

Do you agree, or disagree?


Even if you disagree, let’s face it: More of your friends work like a robot. Think out of the box? You siao arh? Think critically? Why, when we can complete the work just by following instructions? Do something different? You wanna kana scolding, izzit?

What do you think contributes to this? Could it be that we have such a great system in place that we don’t want change? That, as long as we follow instructions, everything will turn out well? Maybe. But what is the drawback?

You might have guessed it. We lose our creativity.

As a novelist, I would define creativity as not conforming to the prescribed rules—i.e., instructions. Of course I’m not referring to breaking the law, but more of challenging instructions when required. Why do you want me to touch the tree and come back? You’re training me for shuttle run?

Maybe it could this that we’re either short of creative people, or creative people are being restricted to showcasing their talents online (remember how Singaporeans follow instructions then rant online?).

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