Let artists paint a vibrant Singapore

This article appeared in TODAY, 23  May 2011, page  18.

I refer to Major-General (NS) Chan Chun Seng’s call for young artists to ‘paint some nice murals on the bland walls at the voice decks’ (TODAY, 21 May).
In July 2010, after the case of grafitti on our MRT, I had written a letter published in TODAY making a similiar call to allow public spaces and objects such as street corners, MRT trains and postboxes to be opened up for budding artists to apply for permission to paint on them to inject more vibrancy to life in Singapore.
Street art is gaining popularity in some cities such as London, Berlin and San Francisco. In Singapore, we should encourage this too so that we can engage the creative energies of our artists and make life more interesting for all. It would also signal the opening up of Singapore to be more bold and appreciative of the expressions of others.
Hence I support this initiative by Major-General (NS) Chan. I hope to see it being practiced throughout Singapore and not just in his Buona Vista ward. We can even make it into a national competition with sponsored prize money for the best wall murals.

Footnote: I had proposed something similiar during my GE2011 campaign for Joo Chiat. I will be happy to link interested private home residents in Joo Chiat and in the eastern side of Singapore with arts group I am familiar with for paid wall mural services to their homes.


7 comments on “Let artists paint a vibrant Singapore

  1. Hi Mr Yee,
    If that idea has come from you, then Chan would have to give reference to your proposal and give you credit, or he has committed plagiarism. He should this better, given that he is a scholar.
    All the best.

    • I like to think of it as ‘great minds think alike’. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to know everything about what others may have suggested earlier, and he is unlikely to have read my forum letter in TODAY last year or my campaign plan for Joo Chiat which included a similiar suggestion. I am happy to see a similiar suggestion and am glad to support it.

      • You are just being gracious. Good on you.

        Given the benefits of doubt that Chan might not have read what you have suggested, I think it is not too much to expect that all policies implemented by the ministers must be well researched and tested in advance and not to continue with the old ‘trials and errors” method of doing things, which have resulted in Singaporeans having to pay dearly for their failed experiments, e.g. Singapore birth rate problem. The more I read about what the PAP govt had done to quick fix this problem through the “Population Control Policies” (http://countrystudies.us/singapore/14.htm) the angrier I felt. Why?

        Problem 1: High birth rate

        PAP govt solution: Use manipulative measures to prevent (money for sterilization) or kill (legalized abortion) potential babies after they are conceived in the 1970s.

        Result: Low birth rate

        Problem 2: Low birth rate

        PAP govt solution: Used manipulative measures (tax incentives for working mothers) to try to get Singaporean families to have more babies in 1980s.

        Result: Failed, not possible to bring back the wombs that have been encouraged to sterilize; two incomes families had no more time or energy left to make babies or look after them; tax incentive is not the same as providing free or affordable quality childcare and education.

        Problem 3: Early childhood education and care too expensive

        PAP govt solution: MCYS gave a miserable $150/month subsidy for childcare, and increased it to $300/month in 2008 after many years of complaints by parents with young children.

        Result: Not effective, most childcare centres also increase their childcare fees (see http://app1.mcys.gov.sg/PressRoom/Childcaresubsidyupfeesalsoup.aspx ). Read forum “Childcare fees on the up and up” (http://croonstar.com/thread-746-post-6410.html#pid6410 ) to understand the problems Singaporean families faced.

        Problem 4: More Singaporeans migrated overseas, in addition to low birth rate

        PAP govt solution: Mess humans import

        a. High cost of living, such as, housing, food, transportation, health care, education, childcare, etc;
        b. Social problems, such as, integration problem, language and cultural barriers, foreign values, etc;
        c. Security problems, such as, drinking water tank became burial for crime, slower crimes solving speed and efficiency, reduced total defence (other than economic defence), etc;
        d. Wider rich-poor divide;
        e. Loss of jobs for majority of Singaporeans while foreigners get to enjoy the best of both worlds within Singapore (infrastructure and jobs) which are paid by tax-payers

        Question 1:
        Why did the PAP govt not give our young children free education and care like what other developed countries do? e.g New Zealand govt provides free 20 hours per week of quality early childhood education and care for young children from 3 to 5 years old (http://www.minedu.govt.nz/Parents/EarlyYears/HowECEWorks/20HoursECE/20HoursECEInfo4Parents.aspx) before they are enrolled into compulsory education that starts from age 6. This is good for the children and also an encouragement for Singaporean families to have more children.

        Question 2:
        Instead of providing free education and care of Singaporeans young children, why did the PAP govt give away large sum of tuition grant to every international students studying at our local universities/polytechnic? e.g. NUS tuition grant is between $19,000 to $89,000 per year per student (https://share.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/ug/UGTuitionCurrent.pdf ). Total tuition grant given to international students is estimated to be at least $727.985 millions per year or averagely, $1.012 billions per year. This is grossly unfair to Singaporeans, and further discouraged
        Singaporean families from having more children.

        Question 3:
        Why were incentives removed immediately for families that had taken heed of the policy to have more children based on incentives promised (e.g. priority for primary one admission for those who have three or more children)? As a result of the sudden withdrawal of the promise, the 3rd and 4th children born had to queue and ballot for their primary school places. This is another gross unfairness, not only to the parents, but also to those children born. Promise should be kept for those who had conceived at the time of the old policy.

        Question 4:
        PAP govt consists of highly educated scholars, so I would expect them to think like researchers in major policies changes/implementation, i.e. do extensive research, literature reviews, collect data, analyze data carefully, produce implications, suggestions and policies based on research findings. Why is there no research and surveys on Singaporeans as to how they could be supported to have more children or how their lives will be affected before implementing all those policy changes?

        I am very disappointed with Singapore education system, which has produced scholars who are highly logical and scored well through rote learning, not creative, can’t think out of the box, and have no human touch in problems solving. Ruling the country is ruling people with feelings, and not ruling objects or commodities like a business. This requires ministers who could feel the pulses of Singaporeans. Perhaps, the appointment of minister for education should be only given to those who have the domain knowledge in education. On this note, I think the minister for MCYS should preferably be female, with the domain knowledge in community service, or youths service, or sport, or early childhood education.

  2. Dear Jenn Jong

    Congrats on being an NCMP! As a resident of Joo Chiat, I’m very happy that you can be an alternative voice in parliament, not only for Joo Chiat residents but also for other Singaporeans.

    I would like to comment on your idea about opening up more public spaces for youths to show their creativity. To add on to this idea, I was also wondering if we could perhaps work with the Probations Services (under MCYS, incidentally) especially young offenders who have committed vandalism as an offence, to give these at-risk youths a chance to contribute to society. It is also a way of affirming their abilities and creativity, yet letting them know that their talents can be employed in perfectly legal avenues. I know that some of these young probationers are on Community Service Orders, which require them to work certain number of hours on community projects. Many organisations have engaged these youths on various community projects. Perhaps you can also explore with the Probation Services Branch at MCYS about doing something similar.

    Incidentally, I must admit that I have also given the same suggestion on MG Chan Chun Sing’s Facebook wall (I didn’t realise you came up with a similar idea already) because I thought it would be easy for him to do so, since he is now the Acting Minister for MCYS. Anyway, I’m sorry it’s a recycled idea! But I hope you can explore it with MCYS nevertheless.

    However, I can also understand if the idea is not implementable for some reason or other. Don’t worry, I’m well aware that not all suggestions can or will ever be realised. I’m just happy to give my 2 cents worth of thought.

    Yu Wei

    • No problem with duplicating ideas. I am sure others may have suggested something similiar elsewhere at some point in time. As long as it’s useful and it gets implemented.

  3. regulations have to be loosened up so that this form of street art is not regarded as vandalism

    another thing is whether the whole society is ready for this kind of creativity as it has been getting so used to PAP’s way of ‘orderliness’ !?

    creativity involves some form of messiness and a big part of our society has to have tolerance for such form of messiness in order to let this to happen

    maybe if people wants to do street art, let’s start by allowing them to do it on the dust bins at the streets, public toliets and slowly expand to other areas

  4. I agree with Neo. Those at-risk youths also needs a public spaces to show their creativity.. At-risk youths are important individuals. If they are not led toward responsible adulthood and self-governance, the burden to society may include an increase in crime and social problems, increased expenditures for prisons, and decreased economic productivity.. Here is a page that provides info about at-risk youth: http://www.atriskyouthprograms.com/youth-programs/what-is-an-at-risk-youth.html

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