Great Nation or Stressed-out Nation?

Posted by See Leong Kit under Letters on 12 March 2005

Not surprisingly, my contributed letter below was "rejected for publication" by our TODAY newspaper.

When the TRUTH hurts, you can count on our "controlled and compliant" Press/TV media to step in and keep the facts from the people who then, as usual, gets to hear "only the good news".

In your report "Family found dead in flat" (TODAY March 8), a 40-year old man jumped to his death, while the bodies of his wife, 12-year old son and 4-year old daughter were found in his HDB flat.

This family tragedy is a second wake-up call. The first was when an LTA engineer took his son's life and his own life, leaving his wife and daughter in shock and despair. Such tragedies may be just the tip of the iceberg.

People are our only valuable resource. So the death of even one Singaporean is surely one death too many, and not a mere statistic to be quickly forgotten.

In 2001, about 14,000 children were seen by psychiatrists at our Institute of Mental Health, of which 2,233 were new cases and these figures have stayed relatively consistent over the preceding five years.

From 1997 to 2001, 20 primary students have jumped to their deaths. In 2001, we had 357 suicides --- almost one suicide every day. The suicide statistics for subsequent years were never disclosed.

In 2003, marriages here fell 5% while divorce cases doubled over the last decade to 6,561 --- 18 divorces every day. Particularly worrying is the rising trend of our young couples divorcing within the first five years of marriage.

Few Singaporeans are aware of these disturbing trends as such "shameful" social statistics tend to be swept under the carpet. However, they cannot be good for our children's generation and for Singapore in the long run.

After 40 years of independence, it is time our politicians and people seriously address such social concerns with these soul-searching questions.

Have we achieved great economic success at high social costs? To what extent have our high cost of living and expensive homes contributed towards such social trends?

Nowadays, both parents often have to work to pay off hefty home loans as well as numerous taxes and dues. How did the HDB arrived at the $200,000 selling price for a new 5-room flat when its tendered construction cost is only around $50,000?

Of what use is all our wealth if our children become social misfits, jump off high-rise buildings or end up with broken marriages?

The writing has been on the wall for some 10 years. In our pre-occupation with economic success, if our politicans and people choose to turn a blind eye to such social issues, our children will end up paying the heavy price. They will certainly reap what we sow.

Sources and Relevant Links:

Singapore Review Great Nation or Stressed-out Nation?

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