Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Disempowered Generation

The Sunday Times, October 31, 2010.
A Disempowered Generation, page A14

Content from the original article was scraped and is available here with an...impassioned discussion.

Only in Singapore will career politicians reframe a political problem so that it appears to belong to the citizenry and not to them.

He said he was reflecting a sentiment held by many of his men in the SAF, who had to compete with foreigners for jobs. 'I feel that there is a dilution of the Singapore spirit in youth... We don't really feel comfortable in our country any more.'

Mr Goh's reply was one of deep concern. 'This is one early [early to the clueless, perhaps. Emphasis mine.] sign of danger... If this is happening, it is very serious.'

He asked Mr Lim why he felt disconnected.


'This is your country,' SM Goh replied. 'What do you want me to do to make you feel you belong?' [Note the defensive posture, emphasis mine]


News flash to Goh Chok Tong: If young Singaporeans are feeling disenchanted, disenfranchised and dissatisfied (I could have a field day with "dis"), it's not OUR problem. It's YOURS.

Young people are the bedrock of the nation. They are the future upon which the country is built. Just telling us to think positive and look at things purely from your privileged Senior Minister's perch isn't going to magically make all the negative feelings, which are grounded in real causes of your doing, go away.

The world is becoming smaller. For better or for worse, people are a lot more mobile now. It's one of the little consequences of globalization that Singapore has so readily embraced.

Telling the most mobile, talented and arguably, valuable demographic of your nation to suck it up and deal with it is practically laying out the red carpet for us to emigrate. Why not? Even if we wanted to hang that massive millstone of an HDB mortgage around our collective necks, even that has been priced out of our reach lately.

Marriage, family, kids to anchor us here? In case you haven't realized, those life stages are being postponed later and later. No thanks to you.

Voting out the current government to agitate for political change that's more responsive to our needs and aspirations? You should be so lucky we have that option. If we did feel our votes counted, fewer young people would feel so disenfranchised that they feel they need to move to a place where they actually have a voice. Sorry, again, political dissent and change is no-go in Singapore. And again, we ask, whose fault is that?

'If that is prevalent among young people over here, we've got a real problem,' SM Goh said. 'If the majority feel they don't belong here, then we have a fundamental problem. Then I would ask myself: What am I [GCT referring to himself, emphasis mine] doing here? Why should I [GCT referring to himself, emphasis mine] be working for people who don't feel they belong over here?'

Apparently, our politicians are beneath even the banksters responsible for the worst financial crisis in generations. At least bankers are satisfied to be paid lots of money for wrecking the global economy. Our dear Chok Tong doesn't just want millions of dollars in compensation, which he already gets. He wants to be loved and valued for his work too, by people who feel they belong here.

Funny, I thought the whole point of paying our ministers so much money was to counter the appeal of the private sector and its big bucks over the virtues of working in the public sector. I mean, the reason why we pay you so much was because there was the assumption (asserted by you and your compatriots) that talented people prioritize money over everything else. And here you are claiming that you want to be working, not just for money, but for people who care about your feelings?

What are you, nuts? Bi-polar or something? Afflicted with some affective disorder? Or perhaps you're not the talent we thought you were, since you need more than just millions of dollars. And while we're on that, if your feelings matter, why don't ours?

Let me reiterate my main point. The way young people feel is not our problem. It's YOURS. let me spell that out in case you don't understand one or more parts of it. Y-O-U-R P-R-O-B-L-E-M.

Your government is like a company giving their resigning staff an exit interview, asking for honest feedback, and then systematically rejecting criticism by saying, "It's too bad you feel that way. We're not sorry about it and frankly, we think it's unjustified for you to feel that way."

Fine. Stay on your lonely, delusional moral high ground. Since you're governing in the interests of the foreigners flooding the island, and the top 20% of income earners that benefit disproportionately from your income inequality inducing policies, you guys deserve each other. We'll keep out of your way. Way out.


Fox said...

I feel your anger. It appears to me that GCT was either clueless about the disenchantment with our FT policy on the ground or he was pretending that it didn't exist in the hope that it would go away eventually.

I'm also surprised that the Straits Times even published this article. Putting NS and having someone question the foreign talent policy is a somewhat potent mix. This must have been one slipped past the editor by a disgruntled underling.

Fox said...

I forgot to point out that the questioner, Lim Zi Rui, is probably an SAF regular. There's no way you can be 23 and a local final year engineering student in Singapore.

Ponder Stibbons said...

So GCT hasn't learned from the 'quitter' saga, eh?

takchek said...

Actually it is possible if his birthday is in Nov/Dec.

4th year 1st sem now, and going to be 24 by end of this year. End of next year 25. Which fits the age of most male Singaporeans who go through the JC route and take 4 years to graduate from university.

Fox said...

True, true. I miscalculated.