Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

1. to Make Space for Individual Demands and to Counter Any Ill Effects of an Affluent Society

Academic journal article Southeast Asian Affairs

1. to Make Space for Individual Demands and to Counter Any Ill Effects of an Affluent Society

Article excerpt

In a speech as early as December 1986, the then First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, noted that:

As we advance to become a developed economy, our people will want similar progress in the social and cultural fields. They will want a more aesthetic and invigorating environment which will allow them to lead a fulfilling life. We must expect this as, once basic needs are secure, a society will want to pursue the higher goals and the individual's self-fulfilment ...

Now what is a cultivated society? By a cultivated society I mean a society of well-read, well-informed citizens, a refined and gracious people, a thoughtful people, a society of sparkling ideas, a place where art, literature and music flourish. It is not a materialistic, consumeristic society where wealth is flaunted and money spent thoughtlessly, in short, a parvenu society.

More recently in January 1996, the Prime Minister reiterated this idea: Improvements in material well-being must be accompanied by, or at least lead to, more refined behaviour and a keener appreciation of non-economic needs.

Critics have been quick to point out that, in spite of the officially-sponsored courtesy campaigns over a decade, such an ideal seems to be perpetually receding, given the presence of road bullies, and rude consumers and retailers. …

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