All around this orderly, law-abiding country, people are being urged to do what until now has seemed totally unnatural: Take risks! Be spontaneous! Be creative!
On billboard ads, young models with devil-may-care looks jump ecstatically in midair to hawk clothing, sodas and real-estate developments. Banks sponsor blogger competitions and art festivals. Television shows lavishly praise tech geeks, musicians and fashion designers.
Last month, Singapore’s government even sponsored a graffiti contest, allowing schoolchildren to decorate city buses — a far cry from the days when such activity would be punished by a painful caning.
It’s all part of a wave of nervousness across Southeast Asia as leading industries face aggressive competition from Chinese firms.