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Guest Contribution, The Straits Times

Singaporeans Today: No Less Hungry Or Industrious

How do young children become so materialistic? Granted, they usually hanker after things. Their parents may think it is too early to teach them frugality, but it is never too early to teach children that kindness to others and helping those who need help is more important than getting a new toy” (Steer Kids Away From Materialistic Culture Early, Dr. Lee Wei Ling).

It would be inaccurate to perceive those below the age of thirty today to be unmotivated and demanding of things which they did not earn.

Dr. Lee Wei Ling is of the opinion that the younger generation of today are “less hardworking, less driven and more demanding of what they think is rightly theirs” (“Steer Kids Away From Materialistic Culture Early”, October 21, 2012). I agree; given the evolution of Singapore’s societal context into one that is developed, affluent and hence avails material satisfaction much more readily. Moreover, it is certainly true that those of my generation did not experience the turbulence and toil which brought Singapore from Third World to First. However, it would be inaccurate to perceive those below the age of thirty today to be unmotivated and demanding of things which they did not earn.

No Less Hungry or Industrious

While it well may be that Dr. Lee did not mean to generalise in such a sweeping statement, the impression that people of my generation are less driven is a very real one. I believe that such an opinion is not representative of the majority, but instead of a minority. Those of Dr. Lee’s generation grew up in a Singapore which was unimaginably different from the Singapore of today. Hence, the indicators of being hardworking and driven might have also been different.

For instance, job security and financial stability were of utmost importance in a young, unstable nation fresh from independence. It is true that the younger generation might not have to earn our own financial keep and certainly, our aspirations have shown to be more diverse and unconventional with the arts, culture and sports being increasingly considered to be viable careers. Yet, this does not make us any less hardworking or driven. In fact, competition as a result of globalisation has prompted this generation to work far harder to succeed. Coupled with the meritocratic socio-economic structure characteristic of our country, I daresay that this generation would realise that there is no room for being lazy and unmotivated.

The advertisement which Dr. Lee mentioned is clearly misguided in its portrayal of an overtly-materialistic culture which breeds a less driven and more demanding younger generation. It is important for the younger generation to take the effort to shed this image. It is also equally, if not more important for the older generation to constructively assist in these efforts so as to encourage a more progressive and altruistic society and not one which is overly concerned with determining which people are more or less imbued with these altruistic ideals.

This article was written by Egan Chan (Mr.), a student endeavouring to scale the heights of Mount A-Levels. An edited version of this article was published on The Sunday Times (October 28, 2012).

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About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Singaporeans Today: No Less Hungry Or Industrious

  1. I actually think there may be a gap between what Lee Wei Ling was getting at by “driven, hard-working” vs what Egan was resting his case on, even as he did point out the differences. What was understood as “driven, hard-working” in the ‘older’ days was measured in the ability to persevere and overcome obstacles and limitations – it is a very different level of resilience if one is driven by the need to survive vs by the need to obtain material success.

    So instead of pointing to the attempts at ‘diverse and unconventional’ in measuring ‘drive and hard-work’, it would be more accurate to bring out examples of those who actually stayed true and followed through these off-the-beaten-path aspirations, and not “sell out”. And that is where we find the minority have today, majority eventually sell-out. And it’s not because they have ‘less’ drive, but rather, their drive is less tenacious, resilience and the like.

    Because if we consider the amount of resources and opportunities this generation possess, it is hard to reconcile the lack of individuals impacting the world globally or regionally whether as entrepreneurs or as innovators. Say in technology, where Americans are today flocking to Singapore seeing us as Asia’s “Silicon Valley”, yet there hasn’t been a local brand since Sim Wong Hoo’s “Creative” that took Singapore/ASEAN like today’s Apple in the 1990s.

    🙂

    Posted by jn (@fivetwosix) | November 2, 2012, 8:19 am
    • Egan, who wrote this article, can’t reply because he’s hard at work for his A Levels (haha). One thought I had: isn’t it a little harder to “succeed” nowadays, especially when the route to success is no longer as straightforward (food, shelter, academic excellence). Everything seems to be inflated, and much harder to achieve.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | November 4, 2012, 9:03 pm

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