Posts Tagged ‘society’

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has called the younger generation of voters as a generation that “does not remember.”

Lee was probably expressing his frustrations that younger Singaporeas appeared to have forgotten the efforts of the People’s Action Party in making Singapore what it is today, suggesting lack of gratitude from young Singaporeans.

A letter to a local newspaper went further, chiding young Singaporeans as dependent, spoilt brats who want free HDB flats. Even a foreigner hoping to be a Singapore citizen has weighed in on the issue, claiming that Singaporeans have a “complaining, molly-coddled mindset” and he¬†would gladly swap citizenship with any unhappy Singaporean.

Such sweeping criticisms conveniently, and perhaps deliberately, belittle the younger generation of Singaporeans, conveniently dancing around the important question of understanding why they are unhappy with the current system.

In fact, these sweeping criticisms are warning signs of complacency, of stagnation, of impending decay. Those who made these criticisms of the young appear to be more concerned about not have their boats rocked. Questioning the system that has worked thus far is the act of an ingrate, a deviant, or worse, an infidel.

The younger generation are more critical not because they forgot, but because they have passion and drive to make their home a better one for the future. Woe betide Singapore if its young take comfort in enjoying the fruits of their parents’ work and not labour to cultivate fruits for future generations.

However, what is probably unnerving to the older generation is that the younger generation has appeared to want to chart their future in their own way, not in the way that the older generation wants or prefers. This is most unfortunate.

The world today is different from that of 50 years ago. Back then, the older generation was young, probably brimming with passion, and took on the challenges of their day their way, resulting in the success Singapore has today.

But alas, the younger generation today are being chided for wanting to meet the challenges of today their way when conditions are different. The younger generation is being asked to follow the successful formula of the past, as if it were a magical formula that will always work.

The older generation of Singaporeans created a formula that worked for them. Younger Singaporeans are increasingly seeing that this formula isn’t working for them and they want to create their own formula for their generation, only be have cold water poured on them. Why should the younger generation today be denied the chance to seek their own destiny to secure their own future?

Perhaps the real generation that did not remember isn’t the younger generation.


George Orwell’s Animal Farm is probably must read for Singaporeans before elections. The novel makes one really important point, that is, living beings are generally selfish. Without a properly functioning system of checks and balances to counteract selfish tendencies, the majority suffers in the end.

The novel is not all that long, but for the benefit of those who have no time to read the entire lengthy novel, there is a chapter by chapter summary of the novel available online. Each chapter summary will take no more than a few minutes to read, and an overview of the novel can be gained in under 30 minutes.

Think about how the pigs in Animal Farm employ fear to control the other animals who all along whole-heartedly believed that the pigs are acting in everyone’s best interests. Think about how the pigs systematically exploits all the other animals. Think about what unchecked power can do.

The upcoming General Elections 2011 will see much larger numbers of eligible Gen-Y voters since the last elections in 2006.

According to a white paper by the e-Government Leadership Institute, Gen-Y refers to individuals born between 1977 to 1997. For this year’s elections, Gen-Y Singaporeans born between 1977 to 1990 are eligible to vote, making their collective impact on election results even more pronounced than in 2006.

This generation of voters were born after Singapore started prospering economically. Thus, they are generally more educated and more tech savvy compared to the previous generation.

The preceding generation, known as Gen-X, lived through the hard times of the sixties and seventies, and what Singapore is today to Gen-X Singaporeans is almost a godsend, hence their strong support for the People’s Action Party which had brought about what can be said to be an economic miracle.

Gen-Y Singaporeans, however, are a different breed. Politically, they are likely to be much harder to please. Gen-Y Singaporeans, by virtue of the fact that they are more educated, are more independent-minded and demand more from the government than their parents. Economic prosperity is not enough, and Gen-Y Singaporeans probably have a very different idea of economic prosperity compared to their parents.

With costs of living rising faster than wages, Gen-Y Singaporeans will be hard pressed to be convinced that Singapore is prospering economically. Except for the few Gen-Y Singaporeans who either have parents have deep pockets or who have secured scholarships, most end up saddled with a sizable study loan after completing tertiary education.

Then, they are saddled with a large 30-year housing loan that eats away at their retirement savings. There’s probably the renovation loan after getting married and the expensive 10-year car loan some years down the road. It’s no surprise that Gen-Y Singaporeans don’t feel too happy economically.

Socially and politically, Gen-Y Singaporeans, unlike their parents, are no longer contented to leaving things in the hands of the PAP, which has ruled Singapore since it achieved self-government from the British in 1959. Their voices are loud and clear on online platforms, their natural playground as they grew up with the Internet.

Gen-Y Singaporeans are probably a lot more unpredictable than their parents, and political players need to start figuring out what makes the Gen-Y tick, how to connect with them and more importantly, how to get their vote because there will be even more of them in the next elections.

The PAP appeared to have surrendered the courting of Gen-Y Singaporeans to their opponents. Estate upgrades, the rhetoric of fear and government handouts that proved very popular with Gen-X voters do not necessarily work on Gen-Y Singaporeans. The PAP’s attempt at connecting with Gen-Y voters in the form of Tin Pei Ling is a flop compared to the National Solidarity Party’s Nicole Seah.

For GE2011, the increased numbers of Gen-Y voters compared to the previous elections might provide the crucial swing votes that may tip close fights either way.