Category Archives: Youths

Pampered soldiers? Blame the parents

It’s coming to a year since I last blogged and when I saw the picture below, I couldn’t resist finally writing in my Moleskine notebook. How apt is it that the last post on this blog is the same topic too.

A little background on the picture. This picture of a recruit in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) who made his maid carry his field pack was first posted on Facebook. Soon after, it went viral. STOMP picked it up, The Straits Times picked it up and as you can always expect from Singaporeans, a big brouhaha was created.

Suddenly every man in my generation who has ever served National Service (NS) or who are serving NS were stereotyped with statements like ‘Aiyo, Gen Y soldiers are softies leh’, ‘Gen Y soldiers too pampered lah’.

But I understand the angry and disappointed reactions from men who have been through NS. Men’s Health writer, Khazmin Juma’In summed it up best when he wrote ‘For many of us guys, it’s a big slap across the face because we’ve all been through (NS)’

Let me put on record that for every Gen Y soldier that you see in the picture above, there are thousands more who are fiercely independent. So nope, Gen Y soldiers are not ‘sisses’, ‘softies’ or whatever that is being labelled on us just because of one picture.

While I draw the line at maids, or even parents helping their sons/employer’s son to wash their uniforms or picking them up from camps, carrying their field pack is downright disgraceful and unacceptable.

Yes, granted that we men have no choice but to serve the nation since it’s a conscripted army, most of us understand that through this process, it will toughen us up and help us grow up.

Basic Military Training in the SAF includes a mandatory confinement where new recruits are not allowed to go home for 2 weeks and are forced to be independent in a new surrounding with new friends and with commanders barking orders at them.

BMT changes a boy’s perception of things, forces him to think of who will he defend when Singapore goes to war. This process is what changes a boy in to a man. Looks like the boy in the picture above did not learn anything.

The boy (I’m refusing to call this recruit a man or even a soldier), has sadly, not seen the significance of serving NS.

There is a belief in some quarters that Gen Y soldiers are ‘spoilt’ and ‘soft’ because their parents pampered them or allowed their maids to treat their sons like kings.

I fully agree with that observation. Yes, the boy is in the wrong in asking the maid to hold his field pack, but the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the parents.

If you think that this Gen Y is too ‘soft’, it gets worse. In a previous blog post, ‘Spoilt kids: Whose fault?’, I observed maids and parents still feeding kids who looked old enough to eat their food themselves.

General Elections are upon us soon. Calls for the voting age to be reduced from 21 to 18 has been getting louder since the last election.

The argument is that since 18 year olds are already taught to hold a rifle (18 is the age where Singaporean males are conscripted), why can’t they have a say in Singapore’s politics? I hold firm to this argument. But pictures like those above doesn’t help people like me in our quest for the voting the age to be reduced.

It is a vicious cycle. This boy in the picture is being treated like a king by his maid, and he will most likely allow his children to be treated the same way.

Parents, get the picture already? We need men, not boys to defend Singapore when push comes to shove.

 

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Filed under National Service, Politics, Youths

Spoilt kids: Whose fault?

I couldn’t resist writing about Sulthan Niaz’s letter which bordered on sexism and what looked liked an attack on women in Singapore to the ST Forum.

I would have fully agreed with Mr Niaz if his letter was about my future generation . But I certainly do not agree with his comments about women in his generation. Why my future generation? Let me explain.

I was walking past a primary school one fine day. There were school kids with their maids, or mothers sitting outside the school. Upon closer observation, I realised, to my surprise that the maids and mothers were FEEDING the kids. Mind you, these school kids look like they were in Primary 5.

As I walked away, it suddenly dawned on me that these kids were going to be the next generation. They are going to be replacing my generation. Yes, horrifying. Contrary to Mr Niaz’s observation, kids these days are the true spoilt princes and princess.

Look around. Kids as young as 7 years old, or younger are already using sophisticated gadgets like iPhones and BlackBerries. In my time, I only got to play with trucks and figurines.  I’m not trying to complain about the ‘boring’ childhood I have. I’m just saying that kids at that age should be learning about manners and being prepared for the harsh realties of the world, instead of being treated like royalty.

So whose fault is it that kids are so spoilt these days?  Ultimately, its the parents. Because everything is taught at home. I therefore, would like to take take this opportunity to thank my parents for not spoiling me and giving in to my whinings whenever I desired something that I shouldn’t be having at my age.

I will confidently say this. If parents continue to spoil their childern, then there will be more uproar and arguments if a letter like Mr Niaz’s appears again in the future.

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Filed under Singapore, Youths

‘Run by young people for young people’

Youth in Singapore are generally “lost” when it comes to politics. There is no clear leadership. The PAP expects them to join YPAP or involve themselves in “constructive” contribution towards society. Very few would want to involve themselves with the Opposition directly. In the end, it seems that there is no way out.

Carlos Abdullah made a fantastic suggestion in his post, Singapore Youth Parliament. The idea is however, not new as the United Kingdom already has a Youth Parliament in place for about 11 years. But it could be a shot in the arm for youths in Singapore, who are clueless about politics, as Mr Abdullah correctly pointed out in the quote above.

Youths today, which is also my generation, are apathetic about the issues surrounding around or in Singapore. Mention an opposition MP’s name, and you will draw blank stares. Talk to them about the latest policy that the PAP has introduced, and they will lose interest.

I do not think it is an issue as to which party a youth is affiliated with, which is Mr Abdullah’s concern. We could follow the British system, where youths represent their region in Parliament. In Singapore’s context, a youth could represent his own housing estate that he or she is living in, for example: Tampines, Woodlands. If they are elected, they will be charged with representing the views of all the young people in their housing estates.

More importantly, the selection process for youths to stand for election in to the Youth Parliament should be open to every young people, from the age of 13 to the age of 35, as suggested by Mr Abdullah and which I concur. Elections can be held every 2 years, where young people from 13-35 years old are allowed to vote and stand for election.

The UK Parliament is open to EVERYONE. Which means young people who suffer from disabilities are also allowed to stand for and vote in elections. This is an example which Singapore should emulate. It would also be nice if a youth’s education background is not an important factor. Whether the youth is from a neighbourhood school or from an elite school, he or she should have a fair chance to have a shot in being in Parliament.

As a young person, I’m very excited about the prospect of having a Youth Parliament. But the current political system in Singapore must be changed first or this ideas will never see the light of day. As Callan Tham points out matter-of-factly, ‘..this would never become reality until the current political landscape is changed dramatically.’

I will end this post with the mother of all quotes by Mr Abdullah: ‘Politics is not only for old people’.

Below are videos of the UK Youth Parliament and a Member of Youth Parliament candidate.

(HT: The title of this post is one of the mottos of the UK Youth Parliament)

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Filed under Politics, Singapore, Youths