In what seems like a subtle jibe at the present Lee Hsien Loong’s administration, Emeritus Senior Minister commented is a media interview yesterday (May 29) that he doesn’t want to live in an ungracious society even when it is the richest in the world:

“…while Singapore’s rapid economic development had driven wages up, the opportunity cost of time had increased too, leaving people feeling more hurried and overlooking the need to be gracious in everyday life. If competition drives people to look out only for themselves and their own families, it would be tragic. I do not want to live in such a society even if it is the richest country in the world”

Ever since his handover of premiership to Lee Kuan Yew’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore has been on an overdrive for GDP and economic growth. GST has been nearly doubled from 4% to 7% and a housing bubble formed leaving many Singaporeans in a lower standard of living under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong than the time under Goh Chok Tong.

Photo by Goh Chok Tong
Photo by Goh Chok Tong

Unlike his predecessors, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong believe only economic growth and intense competition will uplift the whole of Singapore society. Singaporeans today now work the longest hours in the world, at 2,402.4 hours in a year, way higher than its nearest “competitor” Taiwan at 2,140.8 hours in 2013. Lee Hsien Loong has also this to said about the lack of work life balance in Singapore:

“If you look at other countries: Vietnam, China, even in India, they’re not talking about work-life balance; they are hungry, anxious, about to steal your lunch. So I think I’d better guard my lunch.”

Will you prefer Goh Chok Tong’s preference of graciousness over competition instead?