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“It takes time” is an excuse

Posted on: July 22, 2015

Time is an Illusion by ozz13x, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  ozz13x 

Systemic change and solving complex problems takes time. I know, you know, we all know. So let us stop saying that “it takes time” because it is becoming an excuse for inaction.

Here is an example. STonline reported how some foreign workers here had taken to staying in bin centres.

Apparently the rooms in such buildings were meant for temporary respite. How one rests in the stench of what we throw away is beyond me.

The workers are those that clear our rubbish and push the rubbish tippers about. According to the article, they find such places to be roomier and more private than their dorms. They also save on the cost of dorm room rental and travel.

Such news should be shocking in a place we call “first world”. Sadly this news is old. The article stated that the problem was highlighted 20 years ago.

Welcome to life in the dumps – a rubbish bin centre in MacPherson Vista. At least three other bin centres – in Yishun, Bukit Panjang and Bukit Batok – also serve as unlikely homes. Their occupants? Foreign workers hired to clean the estates.

This phenomenon was first reported in The Straits Times almost 20 years ago. It still exists today.

Time alone does not create or sustain change. There must be concerted and continued effort.

Is effort not implied when people declare “it takes time”? I wish that it was.

I have been involved in an unfair share of “change initiatives”, so I can say that meaningful effort is not always factored in. What is guaranteed is rhetoric, planning, and administrative overkill. Effort that actually creates and maintains change often gets lost in the mire.

Change certainly takes time. But we should be more critical and unpack the statement “it takes time” to see if the phrase is a delay tactic or an excuse for doing much of the same.

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4 Responses to "“It takes time” is an excuse"

Dr Ashley Tan: @traintheteacher Definitely, & the time might translate into effort to move forward or back, or stay in the same place. #edsg via


KH Yeo: RT @ashley: Are you using “It takes time” as an excuse? #edsg via


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