Revelations From Bromptongate - The Loss of Prudent Frugality

As a Singaporean born in the 70s, I was brought up to believe that prudence and frugality were desirable virtues everyone should try to cultivate. My teacher stressed that these attributes were synonyms to harvest, abundance, humbleness and contentment. The absence of frugality on the other hand, would see one struggle with uncertainty, lack, wastage and insatiate.

The saddest thing about the NParks' Brompton bikes purchase was not about the imperfect procurement system. It was not even the hint of a possible corruption case within the saga. The saddest thing was that Singapore has lost the understanding of the meaning and importance of prudence. We had Singaporeans, from the man on the streets to the civil servant to the millionaire minister defending NParks' choice of foldies, citing how desirable Brompton bikes were and justifying the need for NParks to acquire a fleet. It was frightening witnessing half of my nation feeling there was nothing amiss with willful spending.

There is simply no excuse for blind overspending. Not when we are a country with one of the widest income disparity in the world. Not when we have elderly scavenging for scraps in the streets. Not when we had another millionaire minster finding excuses not to help working elderly. Not when yet another minister rejecting an MP sarcastically when she asked for a bit more funding to help the needy. Not when the majority of Singaporeans struggling to make ends meet and find a shelter over their heads. Not when citizens gave up having children because of the inability to cope with the cost of living. Not when we needed to set up casinos to help our ailing economic prospects. Not when the world economy has never been so unstable and uncertain for decades.

The idea of prudent spending has no specific rule but rely a lot on common sense. Over years of prosperity, we have lost the sense of judgement to distinguish the intrinsic value of our spendings. We linked our entire country with covered linkways, built state of the art automated irrigation systems across every trough of an overhead pedestrian crossing, demolished and installed generations of bus stops, vehicle guard rails, pedestrian walkways railings, insisting on spending thousands of taxpayer money maintaining grass growing out of car parks aerations slabs which was designed to die. All in the name of prosperity and progress.

When the balance of prudence is tipped towards the end of in-discriminative expenditure, it suggest the lack of discipline. There is a need for Singapore to go back to the basics and revisit the roots of our success so that we can distinguish the difference between necessity and vanity.


  1. the word decadence comes to mind.

  2. The problem here is no transparency and accountability, they can do whatever they want and can still get away with it.
    Moreover 60.1% in GE2011 already endorsed them and their actions too.
    This was one of the main reasons why I went ahead to apply for my OZ PR visa.