Friday, 3 February 2012

Dr Toh Chin Chye vs Steve Jobs

I am sure everyone probably read on the news that one of the founding members of the PAP govt has passed away. I think we all express condolences to his family and loved ones. Nonetheless, it is inevitable that it made me think about the passing of a recent figure as well, i.e. Mr Steve Jobs.

When it was announced that Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. had passed away on 5 Oct 2011, I felt a saddening and souring of mood, even though I have never met him. I read all the eulogies written about him, and already knew before hand, how he set up Apple in his garage, how he was ousted from Apple by the very guy that he brought into the company, how he set up NeXT and Pixar and his triumphant return to Apple and revival of the company. Not to mention, the most inspirational speech he made in a commencement ceremony and his oft quoted phrase "Stay Foolish, Stay Hungry".

However, when it was announced that Dr Toh had passed on, my mind just drew a total blank. Who is he again?


The effects that Steve Jobs and Apple have on our lives are more personal and related to our daily ongoings than Dr Toh. My iPhone is used daily for me to text friends and relatives, check the stock market, find out if the traffic is bad on the expressway, my iPad is used for YouTube, Channelnewsasia, Asiaone, CNBC updates. I read books on iBooks and download music from iTunes. These machines have changed how I work, how I communicate, how I am entertained, how I travel and how I learn.

Sure, Steve Jobs was in his prime and a creative-destructive genius who changed the mobile phone, music, books and tablet industries, whereas Dr Toh had retired many years ago. Also the impact that Steve Jobs made was global rather than the confines of Singapore.

Nonetheless, I think I speak for many Singaporeans that the emotive ties that Singaporeans have towards our "leaders" pale in comparison to Global Leaders who have a direct impact on our lives. We do not really care who the next DPM is or who the next Govt is as long as they can deliver the goods. We are more concerned on the next MacBook Air model, the next BMW car model and the next Hollywood Blockbuster Movie.
The only emotive link we have with our current Singapore "leaders" is whether they are going to correct the inconveniences of FT policy, employment opportunities, the transportation problems, lack of affordable housing and Orchard Road floods. Essentially viewing them as problem-solving managers than awe-inspiring leaders who will improve our lives.

The inspirational rallying call and drive of the first generational leaders to better Singaporean lives from a third-world country have been displaced by Global Leaders who change our lives with all the ubiquitous machines and systems of this century. Good luck to whoever wants to run Singapore.

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