January 21, 2011


Last week I attended a performance by the Cantonese opera group of Guangdong Hui Guan (GDHG). In a speech, the president of GDHG said that the objectives of GDHG were to explore business opportunities in China, promote Chinese culture and do charity work.

He said they needed money because without it nothing much could be done. Members of its executive committee must have money and be willing to donate. Otherwise, you cannot be a member in the committee.

I was thinking why he told the audience this. Doesn't it make GDHG look money-minded. But he is not wrong. Maybe he wanted to say that you cannot promote Chinese culture or do charity with just passion or compassion. You need money to put up an opera show or to give ang pau to old folks.

I think it is the same for a country. You cannot govern a country with idealism alone.

If a country has no money, it cannot help its poor and unfortunate. It cannot have a strong army to defend itself.

Suppose Singapore were to become very poor, probably even our basic rights (housing and food) could be in jeopardy. Singapore would be unattractive and foreigners would not want to come to work here. Who would build our houses?

If the food crisis became extremely severe and other countries had to control food export, whatever food we could get in Singapore would be very expensive. The government of a poor Singapore would not have reserve fund to subsidize prices of some food like rice and sugar or give out free food vouchers to the poor. We would just have to eat less.

Making money is alright but you should not be so obsessed with it that you lose your heart and soul.

People who show a disdain for money are not necessarily more upright or of higher moral standard.

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