Idealism 0, Practicality 2

Some weeks ago, my encounter with Peter Schwartz fired up the dormant idealism within me and led me to muse about an Agency of the Future.  I had initially wanted to pen my thoughts on a draft Terms of Reference (TOR) and thoughts on how such an entity could be implemented.  However, my new-found idealism sputtered after I saw the response that Peter had received, and any embers fizzled out entirely after an afternoon coffee session with a certain friend who was in the loop within the establishment.

Idealism versus Practicality– modified from flickr photo by keylosa’s “empty goal

Idealism started the game brightly with some sharp passing and promising attacking play, but fell behind to a powerful attempt by Practicality’s attacking trio.  Idealism saw it coming, but could do little to stop the inevitable.  At half-time, the score stands at Idealism 0, Practicality 1.

Last evening, while browsing K. Ismail’s “A Reporter’s Memoirs: No Hard Feelings” at Borders, it struck me that Idealism was a concept that was much better embraced and more welcomed during the early days of our nation’s history.  In those days, change (of the socio-political type) was in the air – a stark contrast to the Indon slash-and-burn-inspired haze that fills our lungs come this time each year.  Then, a highly charismatic and capable Harry Lee capitivated the hearts and minds of the nation with his idealism, and brought about sweeping changes to turn Singapore over the past 44 years to turn this swampland into the beautiful place that I call home today.  These days, pretty much the only place where one can see Idealism at work is at the annual Singapore National Day Parade come 9 August each year.  For the most part, Idealism has given way to strong, prescribed doses of Practicality.

Personal Opinion/Observation: It appears that in Singapore, the notion of a civil society will remain an ideal for a while longer.  On the other hand, its more practical brethren – civic society – has been actively encouraged by the authorities in the form of state-sponsored grassroot organisations.  It would be foolish for an incumbent to loosen its stranglehold and foment “the rise of a creative and highly critical challenge to its perceived control and exploitation” (Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in Singapore, by Michael Hill & Kwen Fee Lian), especially when it continues to enjoy the people’s mandate.  Go figure.

The gaffer must have forgotten to give the boys a piece of his mind during the break.  Idealism’s play has been absymal since the restart, and the score could and should have been a lot worse had it not been for some great saves by Idealism’s goalkeeper.  Full-time score reads Idealism 0, Practicality 2.

Till the next rematch then.

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.