Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Never Say No

I first read of the idea that Singaporean workers never say No in a blog entry and mentally filed it under to be tested. Well, it may be true. Certainly my coworkers tend to say things like "I just do what the boss wants" and "She says, I do". I'd like to think it is just the usual distain of management sprinkled with a little Singaporian authoratarian icing sugar.

Alas, I am beginning to suspect not. The attitude is prevalent in the wider cultural context also, heavily influenced I presume by a paternal government, a strict educational system, mandatory national service (for men) and 5000 years of Chinese emperors. To me it's a real shame because I value ideas and innovation, neither of which tend to flourish in the presence of such attitudes. Or as another blog entry talking about business startups said:

"Singapore seems very aware of the importance of encouraging startups. But while energetic government intervention may be able to make a port run efficiently, it can't coax startups into existence. A state that bans chewing gum has a long way to go before it could create a San Francisco."

I'd hope to prove him wrong but the potter can only throw the clay that is a hand.