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Youths have always been a pillar of strength and progress, be it in terms of a country’s economy, defence or social life. Due to the high level of enthusiasm for life and adventure, the curiosity for exploration and the great amount of energy, youths are often relied upon to bring society forward.
A leadership that recognises this and is capable of influencing and motivating them would be able to harness this energy and unleash their potential.
Such a leadership would have to understand the psyche of youths, provide the vision and necessary training, and encourage them into action.
The late Indonesia president Sukarno used to say ”
100 orang hanya bermimpi, tetapi berikanlah aku 10 pemuda maka akan kuguncang dunia!” (100 people only dream of, but give me 10 young people, and I will shake the world!)
Despite the sacrifices made, the uncertain economic conditions have had an impact on youths seeking employment, stability and to settle down to build a family. This can be seen in the latest report on the population whereby the fertility rate has gone down to an all time low of 1.16. This is a reflection of the low level of confidence that youths have in the future of the country.
Against this background, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has made a clumsy suggestion that Singapore would need “young immigrants to save its economy from long-term decline as a result of a falling birth rate”.
Let’s not forget the fact that the problem of population growth started with the “Stop at Two” policy that was ruthlessly implemented by Mr Lee himself. He has no moral ground to tell the people what they must do and must not do to ctify the demographic debacle.
Already the ongoing influx of foreigners is posing a serious problem to Singaporeans in terms of employment opportunities. Mr Lee is now displacing further our youth with his quick-fix of bringing in young immigrants to settle here, a solution that will inevitably lead to more problems.
This is a Government that has total disregard for its own people and its youths. Looking at the trend of their policies, it seems that they are comfortable on a path of abandoning their own people for political survival.
The PAP has proven itself to be a party of old men with ossified ways bent on protecting their vested interests, none of which resonates with the idealism of the young people in Singapore. The youth in this country feel that they are not getting the respect that they deserve and that the Government has readily abandoned them to their own fate.
Throughout history youths have been at the forefront of change. The fall of the dictatorships in Central Europe to Asia to Latin America were often precipitated by students who dared to speak up against the regimes that shackled them.
It is not an overstatement to say that youths have made great contributions to the progress of Singapore. The peace and stability that we have here would not have been possible without young people. Male Singaporean youths spend at least two years of their lives in military service to the nation.
Shamin is a member of the Young Democrats.