Friday, November 16, 2007

Wolfson Formal

Wow, Wolfson must have felt like there was an Asian invasion today. XianJie organised a truly massive Wolfson formal made up of mainly Singaporeans and Malaysians. There were so many of us that we virtually took up 1/3 of the hall.

I walked to Wolfson from my room. It took me 40 minutes to get there as I didn't want to risk going to the back gate, as it is usually locked. So, I went round the long way, down Barton Road. The formal was okay. I thought that the veal was a little too salty and the wine was a little too sour. The post-dinner drinks were quite good, though.

Anyway, at one point during the formal, the topic of Singapore vs Malaysia came up. As usual, I defended our country as I felt that we had relatively more freedom in Malaysia than in Singapore. I'm speaking from the point of personal freedoms and doing things in life. Generally speaking, there is more room to manouvre and more flexibility in life, in Malaysia than in Singapore. At worst, we can always settle things in Malaysia.

I agree that Singapore probably has a better system and infrastructure in place, than we do in Malaysia. That's the reason why so many Malaysians flock to Singapore to work and to earn a living. On the other hand, Singaporeans often come to Malaysia to spend their money. I'm not talking about buying cheap groceries or pumping cheaper petrol. I'm talking about doing things in Malaysia that they just cannot do in Singapore.

This is the trade-off for having an efficient and good system in place. It is something very easy to explain and understand. However, I rarely get the chance to explain it to most Singaporeans as they naturally shut me off. This is simply due to my lack of tact, in explaining things. But that's just me. So, here goes:

  • In the absence of any system, there is full flexibility as anyone is allowed to do anything. In such a society, there would be absolute personal freedom. Yes, society would probably be chaotic, but that's the price you pay for absolute personal freedom.
  • In the presence of a perfect system, there is zero room for doing anything outside the system. In effect, there would be absence of personal freedom. And yes, society would not be able to function in such a scenario either.
So, it's all about a trade-off between personal freedoms versus societal harmony. This is where things are a little different between our two countries. Whichever one is better, depends on the individual choosing. Some people thrive in absolute chaos, while others crave the stability of structure.

PS: The photo was taken handheld, without a flash, under low lighting.

2 comments: said...

shawn.. this pic is really nice!!!

Shawn Tan said...

thanks for the compliment, whomever you are!