Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Today I shall continue my nonsensical ramblings on the Singapore youth of today. Just a warning, this is going to be a long post, so I will sincerely advise people reading this to get a pack of potato chips and a cup of coffee or a diet coke before you start reading. As I will also be generalising certain issues, it would be to my own sanity and safety that I issued a disclaimer before I actually start. The least I want is people flooding my tagboard with disdainful and disrespectful comments to say the least. I remember making a seeming innocuous remark on a Chinese organisation and was subjected to rude sarcasm by a 15 year old, in class, amidst sniggers from the other members of the class.

Today we shall discuss Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam's comments on Singaporean youth. As I quote from a reliable source, namely the Ministry of Education's website, Mr Shanmugaratnam's speech at the opening ceremony of Presbyterian High.

"Our schools face a particular challenge because of changes in the social environment over the years. Our principals and teachers observe that students are increasingly individualistic, lacking a spirit of wanting to help others. Nor are they encouraged to do so by their parents. They also observe that young Singaporeans are getting softer, and lack hunger. Success and improved living standards has reduced the appetite to take to difficult situations and learn to overcome them. They will find themselves disadvantaged by these attitudes as they enter the working world."

After I read his comments, I was literally standing up and punching my fists in the air with extreme joy. Even my last toes were gleeing with joy. Finally someone of certain authority are making valid comments about these precious little darlings. Students nowadays are SIN-ful.(This doesn't mean singing the National anthem and taking the pledge half heartedly) But what I meant was that the kids nowadays are S - Soft, I - Individualistic, N - not hungry enough.

Softies and Slurpees
Singaporean kids are a lucky lot; they had never encounter serious wars, riots or famines, neither were they deprived of their weekly shopping rituals. They basked in the sun in afresco cafes complaining about the service of the aunties or uncles serving them, and they nitpick all possible faults they can see/hear/feel in any perceivable events of discomfort. They eat in moderately priced cafes and frequent designer togs shops. Just to highlight an incident that happen yesterday, students were cramped in a small hall to practise for the Founder's Day Mass. However, without even showing any form of concern for the teachers or their friends who had painstakingly arranged for the mass, some of the students were keeping their mouths shut throughout the singing practice, and they even had the cheek and audacity to complain about the hot conditions in the hall. Well all I can say that with the recent economic situation, we can ill afford air conditioning in the hall. Just like the ice-cream in the 7-11 convenience stores, our girls will melt if they are in the heat for too long. It will be totally unthinkable to see the shocked look on the parents' faces, when their daughters returned with contorted faces and disjointed limbs as a result of the heat. Perhaps they will donate more generously to the school building fund to install new air conditioning in every nooks and corner in the school. Wow! imagine running your 2.4 km in the air conditioned hall.

To drive my point across, I would like to express my deep felt sympathy to the students nowadays; it is not their fault that they ended up like softies.(not the ice creams) The issue lies with their parents, who accomodate to their whims and fancies. It is human nature that the parents would want to give their kids the best but in so doing, you are creating a culture where the younger generation had difficulties in dealing with the stress and the trials of the future. Can you imagine a country where the people in 20 years time cannot defend a country without aircon, or that they can't carry a backpack more that 20kg as evolution had gone a further notch. This bring to mind an incident about this 2nd Lieutenant who was in charge of an exercise in the field. He was supposed to do a mock attack on the "enemy" by trying to capture their command post. At 1200hrs, he promptly stopped the exercise much to the confusion of his superiors. Upon asking his reasons for aborting a seemingly successful operation halfway, his reply was "Oh, it was lunchtime wat" It was not difficult to know what happen to the officer later.

All for one?
Individuality and unity seems to be of two different paradigms which cannot be reconciled. How can you be individuals if you want to conformed to a team? In today context, people cares more about themselves than any other people/team/organisation. It is always about I, Me and myself. There was also a disturbing trend that students feel that the teacher don't treat the students as individuals and they also hated the unfair comparision with other classes, streams and physical features. To tell you frankly, I still have difficulty trying to know the names of some of the girls in my classes. Sometimes, to call them other terms of endearment makes the relationship closer. People are known to give nice nicknames to friends to show their closeness and bond, (even among the teachers these name calling are common) and then when teachers used that, we are accused of not caring enough, and not treating you as individuals, why the double standards?
"You, the last girl with that huge pimple on the nose, can you answer this question?" "Don't know? The hiao girl with the "lian"ish specs, last row, can you help your friend?" "Ooi, that monkey at the back, this is not a zoo, stop jumping around like a gorilla.." "That vainpot, stop fidgeting and touching your hair, you are not Singapore Idol." "You are like how many thousand times bigger than the bee, can you stop screaming like a hyena!"

Another comment made was that teachers had bad first impressions of the class and this stayed. I guess the same applies to the students. As human beings (so what do you actually think teachers are?) we are subjected to our own personal bias and judgement. You try stepping in a class that look suspiciously like a dump, students sitting around like some dance routine of the the Ms Singapore Pageant Opening Sequence, and you will get an idea of how the teacher will react to the class. Coupled with the half hearted greetings "Guuu.......d mourning, Ms/Mrs/Mdm/Mr ....", any living soul would have difficulties trying to raise their morale to teach. Sometimes going to a class like this is like going to battle in fully equipped miliary wear.

Hungry - Get Nissin Cup Noodles!
Not to be mistaken with the biological consumption, Hungry in this context is the thirst for success ( Lunchtime is coming! Yeh!) Students are contented to have the bimbotic desire of a shocking pink halter neck or a Topshop demin mini-skirt. They are also hungry for love and relationship, "my honey-bunny sweetie pie, thank you for being there for me...*kisses and hugs*" The typing of the words on my laptop keyboard made my hair stand. even those who are moronic would know how the students nowadays think. They are only interested in material gains and they are not willing to put in the hardship to get the success that they want. I remember when I was still a student, I came from a not well-to-do family, I am given only a pittance ( compared to today's standard) of $2 per day, and that is in Secondary 3. When I was in university I was given $10 a day, which work out to be $50 a week. Looking at the students nowadays who don't bat a single or double eyelid on a $30++ skirt or top, I wondered how they can ever survive in adverse conditions.

The future do not bode well for those who want to depend on these youngsters. A piece of advice to those of my generation: better start beefing up your retirement and pension schemes. And if you find the article inspiring, a contribution of 2.10 cents to the Ng's Retirement Fund will be good. :)

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