Myth 173 - No talents in paradise
In the 70s, when HDB started to build 5rm point block flats, there used to be this remark that the talents in a block of 5rm flat, 96 units, are enough to run a country like Malaysia or Singapore. For in each block there will be enough engineers, doctors, lawyers, professionals, senior executives, civil servants, with enough experience and talents to run a country. And several of our senior ministers too came from 5 rm flats too. Till then, only 3% of each cohort went to university. But we have talents, great talents that brought us here today. We now have 30% or more of each cohort of students going on to tertiary education. Some gone further to do post graduate degrees with MBAs and doctorates a common certificate to flash around. And every year, we proudly declared the thousands of straight A's students graduating from O and A levels. There used to be one or two such students per year per cohort in the past. And today we are living in a myth that we have no talents. How so? The Hokiens will exclaim, 'Oo Yia Boh?' Literary it means got shadow or not? Got shadow means human. No shadow means inhuman. Actually it means true or not. But I digress. Why is there no talents when talents are everywhere? Or are we looking at the wrong place or at the wrong things. Today's talent means you must be able to prove that you are a million dollar earner. Many Ah Longs will qualify, including pimps. But many of these are only interested in chasing money. They have perfected their skills in their chosen fields and set their minds to make millions. That is their reason in life, not serving the people and earning peanuts. We do not need exceptional talents to run a country. We need the heart to be in the right place. For we have all the best talents, the super talents in the civil service and the stats boards to provide the brains and do the real works. We need a heart man to lead, to tell these talents what is good for the people and not what is good for their own pockets. In a way, we need people with a little bit of idealism, selflessness and a little bit silly, to think of others and not of self. These kinds of silliness are now laughed at as naive idealism. What is being promoted and championed are hardcore materialism and what is in it for me. We have ended up like the animal farm when the wrong pegs were fitted into the wrong holes. Wrong kinds of talents to do the wrong kinds of work. And the objectives, goals and policies manifest the thinking and values behind them. We will have solid and high growth rate but for who and for what? In the meantime the people were made to believe in the myth that there is no talent, maybe one, or two, or at the most five. The rest are not talented or good enough. When one block of 5 rm flat was deemed enough, now we have one third of the population that are far well read and schooled, and we can't find the talents. Oo Yia Boh?