Singaporean youths are not that bad

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.

Steve Tan

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.

EDIT (or should it be a WISHB?): Further clarifications are in my second comment to Laremy, here.


2 thoughts on “Singaporean youths are not that bad

  1. Hey man, I find your last sentence very problematic in that:

    1. It sounds as if you’re saying that having Big Brother around is fully acceptable.
    2. Also, it seems to me that you’re saying that youths must be censored?

  2. It just has to come from a teacher, doesn’t it haha.

    I should like to add that I was probably hasty and wrong in not clarifying my thoughts – getting lazy there.

    I actually mean ‘relevant censors’ instead of relevant censors. The following point should answer both your questions. I have no intention of referring to MICA at all.

    What it should have been is, if those who’re properly in charge of these teens, ie the parents, don’t give two hoots about their offspring, do I have the right to care?

    Going by the unspoken premise (I told you I was I lazy in clarifying my thoughts) – let he who has done no wrong cast the first stone – I’m not sure we can condemn these teens anymore than we can condemn ourselves.

    I am not a religious person but I know I was there once, quite like in their shoes. Not as problematic but I did create trouble for my parents and perhaps, endless heartaches. That was then.

    How then do we resolve this conundrum? Can we merely see this ‘in-the-trough’ period as a phase, a trough before the peak, the ugly ducking before the shining? Merely a period of growth and nothing else. Aid them in all the right moments to grow, give them a helping hand when they most need it.

    Believe in them, instead of condemning them like the rest of society, like our parents, superiors, colleagues, forefathers. Be less quick in criticism. And maybe you’ll have with you a changed society in the future.

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