Thursday, 17 April 2014

Time to Rekindle Our Singaporean Spirit


The feeling of being a Singaporean today is very different than it was before. The feeling of injustices are everywhere. At the same time, we are also given all sorts of labels - internally as well as externally.

Deep in our hearts, we know this is not the Singapore we want. We are also well-aware that we are not as labelled - We are far more capable, united and refined than anyone else. There are currently many Singapore warriors that have been working very hard to highlight the issues and instill the change - I admire them for the dedications and sacrifices.

I wanted to add my 2-cents worth and response to those injustices, allegations and clarify those misconceptions - but we cannot be constantly reminding our leaders how to do their job, they need to know the principle and adhere to that. So here I am, defining the Basis Of Singaporean Spirit - not the best yet, but will serve as a starting point to get things going.

Many of us may not know it. Singaporean Spirit is one of the strongest in the world. It is comprehensive and encompassing. Nowhere in the world would you be able to replicate it.

This is what I summarised as: The Basis of Singaporean Spirit - BOSS for short. In Chinese, I shall call it 《坡精神》. "Singapore", in Chinese, is written as "新加坡". So the "坡" represents our country. Literally, the "坡" also means a small gentle slope - we are small, but well-mannered and humble, yet a significant part of the overall landscape. "精神", in Chinese, means spirit. The reason why I chose "坡" is also because it rhymes with the English acronym - "BOSS".

What is BOSS?

BOSS is the common believe on the best way to build a home. BOSS stands for "Basis Of Singaporean Spirit".

BOSS is a spirit in the air, it is a feeling we all share. BOSS is within every one of us - Regardless of Race, Language or Religion.

BOSS is our basis and our common denomination. BOSS unites everyone under one common believe - the best way to build a home.

BOSS is not about creating a replica of US, Switzerland, France, or whatever. BOSS is about our distinctive characteristics and our core competencies. BOSS demonstrates our uniqueness and shows the world why we are better. BOSS is our guiding principle for our thoughts and behaviours.

Why talk about BOSS now?

With the busy and stressful life, exacerbated by political issues, aggressive rights groups,  BOSS had been overlooked - people started to fight among one another, defending their own groups and ideas while trampling on others - overlooked that we all started from the same common root.

It is now time to remind all of us about BOSS and revive the hidden values - wipe away the dust and let is shine - let it be our guiding force for our thoughts and behaviours.

Why do we need BOSS?

What is happening today is very scary - similar to what the IT industry did in the 1990s - BPR (Business Process Reengineering). In the name of modernisation and promises of a better and more competitive organisation, companies revamped the entire organisation without understanding the basis and value for its initial existence - throwing away everything, including the good and valuable. The end result was a big disaster.

Implementing changes without understanding the basis and value is suicidal.

Why is it important to define BOSS?

For any organisation, it MUST have a guiding principle, which serves as a basis where all decisions are based upon. Without a proper guiding principle, decisions and actions would be based solely upon monetary value and pressure from different rights groups as well as individual ideology. When an organisation loses its core principle or deviates from it, it loses it soul.

Now let's get into more details on BOSS.

Details on BOSS

The first thing to look at is Singapore's existence. Singapore existed not because of its multi-racial society. No country in the world existed because of that; in fact, this is always the source of conflicts around the world.

Multi-racial society is the result of our nation building - not the foundation. The foundation of Singapore started with a single belief - the common belief on the best way to build a home. This belief is written very clearly into our Pledge (
We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.

People from all walks of life, who shared the same belief came together to build this dream home that we now called “Singapore”.

The multi-racial, multi-language, multi-religion constitution of Singapore that we see today is the result of the diversity of people who shared the same vision, willing to sacrifice, and willing to build this dream home together. The composition will change over time as our value and belief spread across the world, but the foundation remains the same - "the common belief on the best way to build a home". It is this foundation that brought us the harmony that we enjoyed.

BOSS has 3 Traits, 5 Qualities and 7 Behaviours.

The 3 Traits of BOSS

Automatic, Reflective and Collaborative (ARC).


We do not cause problem and will avoid any inconvenience to others - This is Automatic.


Before we act, we always put ourselves in others' shoe - This is Reflective.


We believe in building and achieving the goals together. No matter who you are, where you come from, there is always a role you can play - This is Collaborative.

The 5 Qualities of BOSS

Benevolence, Righteousness, Manner, Wisdom, and Faith.

BOSS has great sense of Righteousness. We scout and bring to light injustice across the world, including the Internet. This is part of our Neighbourhood Watch - not "pack behaviour".

BOSS exhibits Benevolence. We forgive and forget. BOSS does not destroy.

BOSS has strong Faith in Singapore. We believe as long as BOSS is there, no dream is too bold that we can't try for.

BOSS has good Manner. We initiate respect and reciprocate them.

BOSS has great Wisdom. When others comment, we know where they come from and what they are trying to achieve - We do not react emotionally.

The 7 Behaviours of BOSS

1) We start a request with "Sorry/Excuse Me" and end with "Thank You" - BOSS is polite.

2) We fight, we curse, but at the end of the day, we are sharing a bowl of Ice Kacang - BOSS does not bear grudges.

3) When we are in a mixed group, we make an effort to speak English so that all can participate - BOSS is welcoming and encompassing.

4) When we make a mistake, we own up, apologise, serve whatever punishment and move on. We don't find excuses or blame others - BOSS has integrity and ownership.

5) When we are leaving carpark, we point our cars to those drivers waiting to park; when we are not, we will wave a "No" sign - BOSS is considerate.

6) In trains, we automatically give up our seats to others who need it more - regardless of whether it is a Reserved Seat or not. When others do not, we know they likely had a bad day or late night - BOSS is understanding and leads by example.

7) We divide ourselves into groups to compete in events, but after the events, we are back as One Singapore - BOSS is united and sees the big picture.

Of course, there are many more great behaviours of BOSS, but I have to stop somewhere.


I hope you have enjoyed this article and now have a better appreciation of BOSS. This is the true spirit of Singaporean.

It is time to rekindle our Singaporean Spirit. Follow the basis and show the world who we really are. If you encountered any labeling, educate them and refer them to BOSS.

So, how "BOSSy" are you today? ;-)

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