Someone, I think it might have been S. Rajaratnam, defined Singaporeans as a people who knew "the price of everything, and the value of nothing."
He might have adapted or adopted it from another quote, but as a description of Singaporeans, it is often quite apt.
[Google Save: The quote is usually attributed to Oscar Wilde who used it as a definition of cynics.]
But Singaporeans, if we are indeed cynics, are shallow cynics, unthinking cynics, unimaginative cynics, lazy cynics.
Why do I say this?
It was revealed that Singapore Day in the UK this year costs $4.4 million. The immediate cynical response and comments were predictable - that's $4.4m that could have been spent on the poor.
Like I said. Shallow. Unimaginative. Lazy.
Really, if there is any govt expenditure you do not like, you can say the same - you should spend it on the poor.
Don't like our defence budget - it's several billion ($20b?) - cos you are a pacifist? Should have spend it on the poor.
Don't like the jingoism of a National Day Parade ($17m)? Should have spend it on the poor.
Don't like the contrived pretentiousness/artificial "nature" of Gardens by the Bay? The $1b development budget should have gone to the poor. That would save us about $60m a year in running costs, that could also have gone to help the poor.
Don't want SG to promote or encourage vehicle usage? The $1.7b LTA budget for expanding SG's road network could have been better spent on the Poor.
And that plan for the SG government to spend about $2.2m to cover the installation of Digital TV for low-income families? That would be better spent on the... low... income... wait... That IS for low income families? So we are already spending on the poor?
About half of the Singapore Day UK 2014's budget?
On basic necessities like Digital TV?
Call me cynical, but I don't think the poor should be watching TV.