Michelle Chong: Singaporeans “Don’t Care About What They Do”

As National Day slowly approaches like a Sembcorp contingent on a march-past, we are reminded of how Singapore essentially bootstrapped itself from third world to first. We hear about The Singapore Story™ every year, as told through oversized floats, lipsynched medleys, and schoolchildren in LED suits.

But aside from the gaudy spectacle, how else do we contribute to the narrative of The Singapore Story™? If people are our only resource (as we’ve constantly been reminded), what have we gleaned from five decades of utilising this capital?

Let’s be real – this is beautiful but also a little nuts.

The colloquial phrase “do it once, do it good” carries a uniquely Singaporean flavour. You can imagine it being hollered from the mustachioed lips of an army encik in the 70’s, or being gently uttered by an exasperated young teacher in the classroom of A Good School.

But with a recent spate of embarrassing gaffes being made on a national level — incorrect translations in mother tongues, for example — it seems most Singaporeans have internalised only the former part of the refrain. Today’s word on the street? “Let’s just get this over with…”

Local actress and director Michelle Chong took to Facebook on Saturday night to express her frustration with the “heck care” attitude she’s come across multiple times in her line of work.

In her Facebook post, the star of “The Noose” puts it plainly that she is “starting to think and feel that people here generally don’t care about what they do”.

“If they don’t take ownership or have any pride in their work and just have a “pass up homework” heck care attitude, how do they get any enjoyment or fulfilment out of their jobs?”

Michelle cites personal experiences from working with professionals who settle for lacklustre standards. She describes how a post-production firm shoddily edited her film last year (assumed to be “Lulu The Movie”), leaving the film’s media preview with distorted sound and washed-out colours.

Michelle also mentions how an interior designer left her with “tiles that could be peeled off from the wall and a constant sewage stench because they didn’t bother to seal up the pipes”.

“In the course of my work, I experience and come across many instances where people really just don’t care about what they do. They don’t check their work, don’t care about how it turns out, don’t take that extra step to value-add or think about how to make it better, don’t want to improve etc. It’s a “why should I bother? It’s not like I’m getting paid very much for this job” or “please lah it’s just a job right?” or “do extra for what? I’m still getting the same salary right?” attitude.”

She closes her short rant by urging for higher standards. “I’m not saying we don’t or can’t make mistakes, but maybe just have a little more pride in what we do?”

If we want to find something to be proud of this National Day, let it be our work.

Read Michelle Chong’s full Facebook post below.


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