Monday, April 18, 2005

Creative Singaporeans and Civil Servants

I enjoy the comments I get, but every once in a while, a comment gets me trembling in sheer delight. The last time I felt that rush of ecstacy was when I recieved that special hate mail (and even blogged about it).

Although I haven't been recieving hatemail of late, a comment in response to my last post (Creativity, Control, and Casinos II) has a similar effect on me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you that comment by shux:

perhaps we may not be as creative as, say, the americans, or the japanese, but u can give us points for trying? what's the point of slamming sincere efforts to get our youths to be more creative. if the top doesn't set the tone, who will?

This smells like something written by a typical civil servant. I may be wrong, but it certainly smells that way...

Enough personal attacks; let me take on the comment itself.

perhaps we may not be as creative as, say, the americans, or the japanese,

Are you saying that Singaporeans are not as creative as the 2 groups you mentioned? It is people with your mindset that we don't need, because it is people like you who don't give the creative Singaporeans a chance. You harbour an inferiority complex for the whole nation, because you are inferior yourself, kowtowing to the ang moh just like what your grandfather did, not realising that your own brother is actually creativer than the gwailo, even though he doesn't speak with a swanky accent and breaks English rules every now and then like in this sentence.

but u can give us points for trying?

I'm probably missing your point (not that it matters now), but give you "points"? Must everything have to be about scoring points? Must everything be measured, quantified, and ranked, just like every other aspect of the civil service, and every aspect of the rest our society, home of the world's number one airport and seaport and who-cares-what-else?

Sure I'll give the government some brownie points for finally recognising the importance of creativity (although it took them a generation to do so (Great Harry had to admit publicly that we need more mavericks)). Unfortunately, a great number of our creative cretins (as you thought they were) have become "quitters", while those who didn't quit in time are still serving time.

Sure, the government is trying. But they are realising that getting civil servants to be creative isn't about ordering them to do be creative. Or even adding a displayed-creativity-at-work component in their yearly appraisals. It's about loosening the controls. And they know that. But they can't do that. Because they are not creative themselves. (Fine, calling "casinos" "integrated resorts" is a little creative I admit.)

what's the point of slamming sincere efforts to get our youths to be more creative.

I'm not slamming those efforts. I'm just amused by the absudity of their attempts, except that it's so sad it's not so funny anymore, especially when you see that they are actually sincere in thinking that they will work.

And, you only mention "youths" as the target of their efforts. Which brings up a salient point - they think that they can have creativity in a vacuum, getting the youths to be creative, while thinking that they could remain comfy in their uncreative asylum. This is why you have situations like in my own institution where uncreative lecturers are trying hard to produce creative students. Very funky, in every sense of that word. Very funky.

if the top doesn't set the tone, who will?

I will. My friends who know they are better than the Americans or the Japanese will. Must we always look to the top? It worked for the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but they're finding that it's not working so well anymore.

Let's get the evil civil servants like you out of the way, along with the government they serve, and we will have made a good solid step onto the wobbly but exhilarating path (which we can't see) towards creative nirvana.

* * *

To shux:
Don't take this post personally. I just found that your comment was so convenient as a scaffold for those rants, I couldn't resist. =)

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