I’ve been seeing this trend practically everyday. Over the years it has gotten worse.

People impatient with others. Rushing. Getting frustrated or angry for even small things. Of course, there are those handful of idiots just out to make trouble but increasingly alot of people are becoming idiots. Especially when they find themselves in a crowded situation or where there are quite a number of people around, eg. buses, interchanges, fast food joints, MRT stations & trains, shopping centres, malls, etc, etc.

Another one of those things that i’m getting sick of but also worried as the population increases.


Tempers flaring by Seah Chiang Nee, 9 June 2007, Insight Down South, theStarOnline

KNOWN for its strict law and order, Singapore has surprising witnessed a spate of unprovoked “rage” violence that could belie a sense of restlessness among its youth.

It is generally low-level, nothing compared to the violence of Western “gun” cities, but highly unusual for a stable city where the cane is liberally used.

It is too early to describe it as a trend or that it will make Singapore violent-prone.

But this underlying streak of violence and ill behaviour among better-educated Singaporeans who had grown up in an affluent environment is surprising.

People seem to flare up over such things as road overtaking, car parking, over a “lazy” maid or for merely brushing against another person.

Some of these assaults were unprovoked and directed at senior citizens, a blow to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s Asian values of respect for the elderly.

It prompted this youthful comment recently. “I’m a teenager and I can say that tempers and attitudes among youngsters are getting worse. This is due to the increasing stress and ever-rising expectations from the public and our elders.”

Older adults are, of course, just as quick-tempered.

Over two days last week, the newspapers carried the following items:

·DURING a recent quarrel captured on video and watched by many, a young man attacked an older man, stomping on him as he lay on the ground;

·SINGAPORE’S largest bus operator says there’s been an increase in violent incidents on its buses – 37 cases over five months, 15 involving passengers assaulting its staff;

·TWO men came to blows over a business-and-money row, resulting in one of them needing treatment in hospital;

·A DOCTOR was assaulted in his clinic when he asked a patient who had asked for Erimin 5 tablets (a controlled substance) about his drug history;

·A HUMAN Resource assistant was charged with burning her maid’s arm with a hot iron and hitting her with a wooden pole;

·A YOUNG man wrote in a chat-site that he “felt good after a fight” during one “hot evening without the slightest breeze”. His victim had reacted angrily when told to stub out his cigarette in a no-smoking zone; and

·A STUDENT from a top junior college had assaulted an elderly bus driver when he detained his girlfriend for using an invalid bus card. His father later knelt in front of the victim, begging him to forgive his son.

Why are tempers getting shorter?

The answers are mixed. Some attribute it to the “arrogance” of Singaporeans who are over-protective of their crowded turf. Others blame it on poor parenting or pressures of life.

Singaporeans live in a “pressure cooker” from competitive school to office or business in a society that rates economic growth and accumulation of wealth over social etiquette.

Lee has succeeded in creating a minor economic miracle, but fared less well when it comes to developing social graces.

He admits that the First World ultramodern city-state he built still lacks the “graces of a civilised society”.

Some believe that the rudeness and violence could reflect a widening class division between rich and poor, where some elites look upon the latter as failures.

While the offenders hail from a wide sphere, the majority are middle- or lower-income people.

The wealth gap has spawned a small breed of people who feel left out of the prosperity. They have developed a sense of envy and resentment against what they consider as the “greedy elitist class”.

It has been a problem over the years, and has worsened recently as the economic gap widened.

I have heard of new expensive cars parked in Housing Board spaces near lower-income blocks being scratched, a possible manifestation of class resentment.

A different view is that the violence has nothing to do with politics but bad genes.

In a recent case, four young teens who took a cab bolted in different directions without paying. Two were caught. In another, a passenger not only refused to pay his fare, but also bashed up the driver.

Contrary to the image, the police are not always the tough nut they are portrayed to be, at least in cases of public assault in which no weapon is used or where no one is grievously hurt.

This surfaced recently when irate Singaporeans who were beaten up were told by the police to file a civil complaint.

In one incident, motorcycle thugs set upon and beat up a young doctor while he was eating at a coffee shop.

At the hospital he was given a medical-report form and a referral letter to lodge a complaint with a magistrate. This is considered by some as a shortfall that could encourage public violence.

Overall, the level of violence is still comparatively low. The government has tried to instil good behaviour by courtesy campaigns and a ban on violent films that could affect youths.

But what it cannot change is the basic fabric, described this way: “People are always in a rush, with deadlines to meet, bosses to please and long hours to slog though.”

Obviously for some, it just boils over to the detriment of others.