Highlights of 2011 with 3 Wishes for 2012

Happy New Year!
Courtesy of MarvinTM

2011 has certainly been an impactful year, both literally and metaphorically.

On the international front, environmental disasters like the devastating Tohoku Earthquake and  Tsunami and Fukushima Nuclear Plant Fallout has horrified many around the world.  The flailing economies of Western nations continues, perpetuated by the EuroZone Debt Crisis while a flicker of hope arises with rising job growth in the US. Major political upheavals have also taken place, with the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and other Mid-East regimes, Myanmar's longstanding opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi getting back into politics, and election of former Thai Premier Thaksin's sister Yingluck Shinawatra as the kingdom's first female prime minister.

While major tectonic shifts have taken place, the year has also seen some significant deaths with the demise of terrorism kingpin Osama bin Laden, beloved digital demi-god Steve Jobs, Hollywood screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor, and dear North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (with the mantle of power bequeathed to his baby-faced son Kim Jong Un).

The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton have captured the imaginations of many around the world, aided by social media networks on an unprecedented scale. Of course, nobody would forget that 2011 has also seen more hopping on board the tablet bandwagon, aided by the competing titans of tech: Apple's iOS on iPads and Google's Android on numerous other devices.  Everybody's also shifting their applications, storage and transactions into the Cloud.

Locally, 2011 has seen several major events, with the biggest being the Singapore General Elections, followed by the Presidential Elections, both of which have seen generational shifts in the composition of our leaders. Citizens have worked closely with the authorities to find solutions to preserve the green/rail corridor, while the Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Timah Railway Stations were gazetted as national monuments and conservation buildings respectively. Discussions are now ongoing to determine the right balance between preservation and development surrounding the Bukit Brown cemetery.

More young Singaporeans are speaking out on issues which concern them, while more Ministers and government agencies have extended their influence through social media channels.  Unfortunately, climate changes and freak weather conditions have resulted in flash floods in 2011, while the recent incidents involving SMRT train stoppages have triggered strong public reactions.  Both events have spurred significant reviews of our drainage platforms and rail networks.

On the recreational front, the grand opening of Resort World Sentosa's Universal Studios and its various rides have created waves of excitement, while the opening of Marina Bay Sands and Disney's Lion King brought broadway glitz to Singapore. The sneak previews of Gardens by the Bay and its Flower Dome has created lots of buzz amongst nature lovers. Meanwhile, museums like the National Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, ArtScience Museum and Maritime Experiential Museum and Aquarium (MEMA) provide intellectual thrills with quality shows like Dreams and Reality, Terracotta Warriors and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

As we embrace the dawn of a New Year, made somewhat foreboding by the predictions of the Mayans, I thought that it would be useful to borrow a phrase from Aladdin and make three wishes for the year.

Courtesy of Three Things

Wish 1: More Stepping Forward to Save Wildlife and Protect Earth

It was heart wrenching to read that 2011 has seen the most number of African elephants (2,500) killed in 23 years for their ivory, that East Asians are still eating shark's fin soup, and that the African Western Black Rhino is now extinct. Closer to home, we flinched at reports on the increase in animal cruelty of the most intolerable and inhumane variety. Meanwhile, the price of oil continue to skyrocket, while mankind's negative impact on the environmental crisis loomed larger than ever.

My wish for the year ahead is for lovers of nature, animals and wildlife to do more. In an age of 24/7 mobile social networks, ubiquitous smart phones and instant connectivity, we can help to champion causes that we believe in. 

Let us lend our hand to the preservation of threatened and endangered species of animals, birds, fishes, reptiles, and amphibians. Let us also do what we can to reduce our carbon footprint by eating more vegetables (and less meat), use canvas bags, reduce as much waste as possible, and recycle plastics, paper and metal whenever we can.

Wish 2: People Shifting from Gut Reactions to Thoughtful Actions

My second wish is for more people to translate restless energy and pent-up frustrations into meaningful and affirmative actions. It is great to see the rise of civil society in Singapore but there is a lot more that we can do to translate words into action. I myself have been guilty of being an armchair theorist at times, and I resolve to make a difference in an area that I care about.

For the year ahead, I'd love to see more people coming together in concerted ways to make a positive change in their lives. This should go beyond lobbying companies and authorities to building organisations, initiating platforms and seeding programmes that help to ignite that latent essence in those who feel for the cause.  Some good examples of citizen initiated approaches can be found here and here.

Working cohesively in partnership with governments, businesses, and non-profits, everyone of us can make a distinct difference in our lives, our workplaces, our neighbourhoods, and our society.

Wish 3: More Businesses Embracing Impactful Innovations

My final wish is for businesses to be more creative, bold and willing to do things differently to improve productivity, strengthen customer experiences and build robust corporate cultures. There are numerous tips and techniques out there authored by hundreds of authors for one to refer to.

For the year ahead, let us take care of those long running consumer complaints and focus ceaselessly on their needs, wants and desires. Let us look deep within our companies and pay attention to what our customers, supporters, and colleagues (especially front-liners) are telling us. Let us find ways to make life easier for our customers, distributors, suppliers and partners, and surprise them in the most delightful way.  Let us build stronger and more cohesive organisations with robust cultures.

With everybody continuously streaming their lives on Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Path, WhatsApp and other platforms, companies need to be plugged into the socio-sphere. Ignorance is not only unblissful - it can actually be rather deadly.

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