A letter of hope to the Singapore press:
From Saturday, Jan 2, 2010 The Straits Times:
Don’t tar all youths with the same brush
I REFER to Thursday’s letter by Mr Seto Hann Hoi, ‘The young lack moral compass’.
I feel he has painted far too bleak a picture of youths in Singapore. While I firmly believe that the issue of youth-related crimes deserves critical attention, I find the categorical dismissal of all youths as lacking in a moral compass discomforting.
I have been involved in youth development work since 2005. Over the years, I have encountered youths from different family and educational backgrounds active in volunteering their time for worthy causes, involving helping their fellow workers, the underprivileged in society, needy children or the elderly.
I have seen youths spending months of their time after work or studies, on weekdays and weekends, rehearsing for a musical, just so people can understand the hardships our forefathers faced in the early days of nation building.
I have seen them spending many precious weekends taking underprivileged children out on learning journeys as their parents were unable to do so due to lack of time or resources.
I have seen them taking time out to recycle computers for redistribution to low-income families, and going even to the extent of arranging their own transport to take the computers to the families.
I have seen many other examples of youths making sacrifices for others. I am certain my peers in various youth organisations would concur with my experiences and observations.
In every society, as certain as death and taxes, there will be shining examples and not-so-shining ones. To close a mine just because a flawed diamond is unearthed is daft, especially since every diamond, flawed or otherwise, can become a priceless piece in the hands of the right craftsman.
Thus to lose hope in the young people of Singapore categorically is unnecessary and almost certainly overstating the case.
In the course of my own lifetime of 36 years, I have heard youths called many things – apathetic, ungrateful, soft and now, lacking a moral compass.
We can continue to invent new adjectives for youths in Singapore. Or we can reach out to them in a more significant manner by showcasing the positive real-life examples we see around us.
I choose the latter, as all of us were once youths, if not now.
Mighty fine of Mr Tan to rebut and stand up for the youths in Singapore, when most of whom I see only hang about and loiter in Cineleisure. Granted, I never have a bright view of youths in the first place. But who am I to censure when the relevant censors don’t.