Don’t vandalise. Don’t litter. Don’t urinate anywhere other than in a toilet unless you’re living in the jungle.
These are some of the takeaways from a guidebook called My Neighbour, My Friend, It Begins With Me, launched by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) last month. The rather slim volume can be downloaded from the HDB website at www.hdb.gov.sg.
Let me contribute something that is not in the guidebook: Don’t waste time and money coming up with a guidebook that states the obvious.
Everyone knows vandalism is a crime punishable by caning. Just ask Michael Fay. And you just have to read any “Singapore is a Fine City” T-shirt to know that littering, urinating in lifts, spitting and bird-feeding are also frowned upon.
The guidebook is the result of recommendations from a “workgroup” set up last year to “examine how neighbourliness could be improved”.
Now I want better neighbours as much as the guy living next door to me, but a guidebook with “simple pointers on how to be closer to our neighbours, as well as the common do's and don’ts of high-rise living” appears, uh, misguided.
It assumes HDB residents want to be good neighbours but are too oblivious to know how. Thus, such Pollyanna advice like “Talk to your neighbour and be prepared to listen” and “Be friendly and lend a helping hand”.
Oh, if only the world were the candy-coloured two-dimensional cartoon depicted in the book, peace would be in the Middle East and potato chips would be good for you.
But alas, people don’t behave inconsiderately because they lack a guidebook to tell them how not to. They do so because they couldn’t care less about being good neighbours, much less downloading any book to teach them how to be good neighbours.
But to its credit, the workgroup “recognises that there may be a small minority of residents who are not receptive to general public education on neighbourliness and display anti-social behaviour without consideration to their neighbours”.
This is where the handbook finally comes in handy because it also tells you how to deal with such nightmare neighbours after the talking and listening don’t work. It gives you the Community Mediation Centre hotline number and its operating hours.
And if mediation doesn’t work, it’s off to the courts to see the Magistrate. Just don’t wear your “Singapore is a Fine City” T-shirt.
In the end, the only way to deal with bad neighbours is not to be their neighbour any more – move.
- Published in The New Paper, 24 May 2009
TRENDING POSTS OF THE WEEK
Remember in February when SMRT won some international award for “delivering value through risk management”? You should because I wrote a...
A long time ago, I met Mr Lui Tuck Yew when he was nobody. Okay, he wasn’t exactly nobody at the time. He was the outgoing Chief of Navy. ...
A man accosted an MP at a grassroots event because the man was upset that he didn't get what he was there for. No, I'm not talki...
A few days ago, my former employer, MediaCorp, announced the surprise resignation of its chief executive officer, Lucas Chow. So what ...
I first met Darryl David at Gurmit Singh's wedding dinner in 1995. David's date was a woman named Lynette Pang , who was a stag...
I suppose you’ve heard the big Joanne Peh news by now. I, too, was caught by surprise like everyone else although in retrospect, I should’...
Dear producers of Code Of Law , My condolences on your new Channel 5 drama series. As a former TV producer for Channel 5 myself, I sympath...
When I learnt that Vernetta Lopez ’s autobiography Memoirs Of A DJ: Life In Progress was published last week, I rushed to the nearest major...
Last month, my wife posed for pictures with a topless male model at the entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch on Orchard Road. Because he pu...
Okay, I surrender. I admit it. I was wrong. In April last year, I wrote a column called “ So is Joanne Peh really going out with Qi Yuwu? ...