Back in my days growing up in the 80s and 90s, a person’s social-economic standing was based on the quintessential 5Cs.

Cash, Credit Card, Car, Condominium, and Country Club.

You were successful if you possessed all five Cs. I believe it was coined probably at a coffee shop between some friends who had no Cs and were probably having some Ps (prata I mean – satu kosong, satu telur, terima kasih!).

Unfortunately (or fortunately), there were no memes created back then (social media… what’s that?). The 5Cs got some traction, but faded into the background.

Over the years, there has been a shift in how we defined our 5Cs. Which begs the question: Have Singaporeans become less materialistic or has our search for success taken on a new “material” meaning?

Recently, a survey of 1,000 white-collar workers commissioned by business app Tigerhall, unearthed a new compilation of Cs. The Country Club was first to go, and Condos, Credit Cards and Cars got kicked down the list.

Of the new Cs, Cash remains king, inevitably.

As cost of living in Singapore increases, career is very important
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Next down the line is Career. It’s not hard to understand that Singaporeans want a stable and fulfilling career to ensure they can maintain their standard of living and also get satisfaction from their work. We have seen many local start-ups run by people filled with passion and drive and work tirelessly to ensure that the career they have chosen to pursue does not fail. #supportlocal

Interestingly, the next three on the list are Cultural proficiency, Credibility and Convenience: A shift from tangible to intangible.

Hello! Annyeonghaseyo! Hola! Before Covid-19, Singaporeans were the nomads of the modern world. To satisfy our wanderlust, Singaporeans were venturing beyond the usual KL and BKK trips to the likes of Eastern Europe, South America, the Middle East and Africa.

Culture is equally as important as cost of living in Singapore
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With that came the exposure to different Cultures and the understanding and appreciation of others who are not like us. More than just holiday snaps, we brought those experiences back with us and educated those around us. This new C is very much welcome! Even within our shores, uniquely Singaporean things like Racial Harmony Day help us appreciate our fellow red dot citizens, who may not be cut from the same cloth, but still wear our cheongsam, baju kurung, saris and more in true unity.

It is the next two Cs that I have some concerns about.

Now, Credibility is no doubt an important thing. A person’s reputation goes a long way, especially these days where a single mistake can be just an online CSI away from going public.

We all have seen how social media can break or make a person. Some even had to flee the country after being hounded by would-be social media warriors and for others, the past came back to say Hello (albeit in a not so pleasant way), like in recent GEneral happenings.

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Nevertheless, while it is a tempting knee-jerk reaction to cancel on command, we should still be quick to debate but slow to judge when it comes to talking about private behaviour in the public eye.

Convenience as important as cost of living in Singapore
Image source: Shutterstock / Bogdan Vija

With the rise of e-commerce, private-hire cars and food delivery services, we’ve basically been spoiled when it comes to getting things we want without having to move much. In other words, Convenience is a good thing, but not when it makes us a lazy, impatient and entitled bunch.

What I hope is however, that convenience frees up time for us so that we can spend those precious moments doing more important things in our lives, such as cooking with family, eating with friends, helping others or simply taking some well-deserved me-time.

New Cs for 2020

In this historic year, full of fear and worry, let’s redefine the 5Cs.

Despite Covid-19, let’s be reminded of the little things in life that we should be thankful for.

We have seen moments of Courage from frontliners and everyday Singaporeans, through ground-up movements and neighbourhood groups, each stepping up to help one another when it is so much easier just to think about themselves.

Staying connected amid circuit breaker
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Through the circuit-breaker, we have realised the importance of remaining Connected. We found new ways of reaching out. We had to. Online, we kept in touch, ordered our food, had our meetings, celebrated life events, donated liberally and cared digitally.

To help us be more resilient, the Government rolled out Care and support packages to support us. Similarly, we have also sent care packages of our own: Food and other goodies for our loved ones even during times when we could not meet them in person.

This is all part of our Compassion for one another. Now, even more than ever, kindness and compassion are key in our collective fight against Covid-19. I believe that if we learn to apply the principles of compassion, selflessness and empathy in a sustainable manner, we can help shape the next normal – one that will see a prosperous Singapore rise again.

Me, Myself and My Cs

Just like Lydia Lim wrote in the Straits Times for a need for care, compassion and cooperation, I have 3Cs of my own.

The first is Contentment. I am very grateful to have a roof over my head, my family with me and the ability to work. I was grateful to live in a country where I believe we have the resources to battle the virus and take care of those who have been stricken. I’m not saying not to raise important issues where needed, but I do think that sometimes Singaporeans do complain a little too much. That’s the wrong C to have!

The next for me is Curry. I think food is extremely important to us all Singaporeans and I need my curry in life! Curry is a complex combination of spices and herbs, pretty much like Singapore with our cultures, beliefs and practices. The best part is that whether it’s fish head curry, ayam curry, lamb korma or devil’s curry, we all enjoy each other’s curries. This complex yet united society may not be perfect, but this where I want to dunk my bread in!

Finally, The Choices we make define us. In myriad situations, we can choose to be a good parent, a good friend, a good employee, a good employer and a good neighbour. We can choose to live for ourselves only, or to show compassion and consideration to each other during these tough times.

Covid-19 could very well be the greatest challenge for this generation, but I believe we can be greater. The simplest form of goodwill and kindness could make a difference for another person. I believe that a Kinder You makes a Stronger Us!

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