It is interesting to watch how the rules of a game influence the behavior of the participants.
There is a popular game called Hearts. It is available as a standard game with Microsoft Windows. Here are the rules of the game:
a) The game involves exactly four players. At the end of the game, when one player accumulates at leat 100 penalty points, the player with the lowest point is declared as the winner. The other three players are considered as having lost the game.
b) The game comprises many rounds (or "hands"). 26 penalty points are awarded to the players on each roudn.
c) There is a special feature that if one player accumulates all the 26 penalty points during a hand, the player is considered as having "shot the moon". In that case, the 26 penalty points is awarded to the other three players.
The rules of this game influence the behavior of the players as follows:
a) As the game progresses, all the three losing players (i.e with the higher points) cooperate among themselves to prevent the leading player (with the lowest point) from widening the lead.
b) In each hand, the players cooperate among themselves to prevent one player from "shooting the moon". They will keep a strong card to prevent this situation and will be willing to take one or more penalty points to prevent this outcome. This is for the benefit of the other players.
The behavior of Singaporeans is also shaped by our economic environment and our education system. We were told to be "excellent" and be better than our classmates and get to the "top of the class", When we start work, we were told to "look after ourselves" as "nobody owes us a living".
This environment develops Singaporeans to be competitive, selfish and incompassionate. Generally, we consider the unemployed or unsuccessful people as being "lazy" or have "bad attitude".
When we become victirms of these circumstances, we begin to realise that it could be due to bad luck or unfairness. By that time, we lament that other people do not step forward to help us as they are only looking after themselves.
There are Signaporeans who are exceptions to this observation. But, I do believe that many Singaporeans show the behavior that I have described.
Tan Kin Lian
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