Forum: Be sensible in moving towards a gentler society, Forum News & Top Stories

My parents, who belong to the Pioneer Generation, speak of living under a paternalistic government and tough love.

Now, my generation is living alongside a younger generation that challenges hierarchy and the status quo, and values meaningful motivation.

Singapore has evolved, and its citizens have aspirations for a gentler society (Ads on clearing tables should focus on empathy instead of fines, June 16).

While I agree on the importance of evoking empathy to bring about change, in reality, different people react to different motivations.

Another Forum contributor, Mr Amos Wu, talked about “nudging” individuals into doing good, saying that “the end is more important than the means” (Look at ways to nudge people towards good practices, June 16).

To a great extent, many like me live by traditional ethics based on duty or doing what is right.

We regard the approach to an action as equally important as the achievement itself. When both the means and the ends are similarly noble and good, which is more important does not matter.

Besides, one should not attempt to push the boundaries of utilitarianism too far. That we should be remunerated to love our children, if it proves effective – an idea Mr Wu said might work – is incomprehensible to me.

The Government is using an intriguing playbook of push-and-pull motivation tools to get citizens to do the right thing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whether it’s the carrot or stick, pain or pleasure, moving towards a gentler society is not easy. Let us all be sensible about it.

Chow Kok Fai