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In defence of Gen Y & the strawberry generation – Why do Singaporeans hate each other so much?

Posted by temasektimes on June 21, 2012

Today, I logged onto my favourite site during examinations and read this not-so-well-written piece that got its point across clearly regardless:

Basically, author is a middle-aged Singaporean who sees everything bad with the soft Gen-Y who have had the audacity to have  material comforts like computers and handphones showered upon them by their parents, and basically, “Singaporean youngsters are arrogant, lazy, complacent and cannot take any kind of hardship. You guys have lost the hunger to succeed. All you care about is fun fun fun. You come to work late and leave early. In between, you get on facebook, tweeter, instant messaging, hold chit chat orgies, take multiple coffee breaks, post racist blogs, or play computer games.”

It obviously offended and struck a raw nerve, but like every good, obedient Singaporean would do, I reflected on myself and this is what I came up with. I will keep my retorts parsimonious and limited to three key points:

Stereotyping and generalisation:

From what I know, older Singaporeans are arrogant, think they know best in everything, expect the world to kowtow to them and refuse to listen to new ideas, think that only their ideas are the best, and then blame the same people for not coming up with any good ideas like people in western countries do. According to a Malaysian friend I met on holiday, this is one of the reasons why our neighbours hate us so much.

What I’m trying to say is that, if you are going to be a bigot yourself and generalize, this is how we generalize you as well. We can go on, people who speak English in Singapore are arrogant, students who go to local universities are only book-smart and snobs, the list goes on and we don’t even need to be racist or offensive here!

Like a dear uncle of mine once said, if you don’t open your mouth, no one will say you are dumb…

Author’s own arrogance and bigotry 

Maybe I should question the authenticity of this article – but whoever it is written by, these ideas definitely ran through someone’s head and thought processes. Did it ever come across the author’s mind that he should be aware of his own arrogance, condescension and bigotry? I don’t think I need to say much, because everything this author says is pretty much a reflection of himself; when you point a finger at someone, you point four fingers back at yourself.

It’s not our choice! I didn’t choose to be born into a family living in a 2 room, 3 room, 5 room HDB flat or a mansion or whatever your circumstances were. I just made the most out of what I had and what my parents gave me and that’s what everyone is trying to do. If you want us to stop whining about our stressful exams, our failed relationships, taking the MRT etc, you stop whining about how you didn’t have a handphone or computers back then in 1970 and how we are all a bunch of softies – I doubt the richest man in the world had a MacBook back then either (and I don’t have one, just FYI). Academic achievement at the expense of physical pursuits was drilled into us from young.

I can spend all day giving retorts and arguing my case, but I thought this was a good chance to speak up for the much maligned “strawberry generation” and wanted to make a much more different point to a much bigger problem.

Why do we generalise, and hate each other so much? 

I don’t have the answer to this question, and neither am I a million dollar minister who can tell you “what do you think?” (sorry, couldn’t resist), but why can’t we just focus on the problems at hand and keep our frustrations focused on the problems and not keep blaming each other?

For years, we have been shouting out our problems, sometimes putting in precious time and energy giving constructive feedback, writing emails, writing letters to the press – maybe one of the reasons for all this frustration is that we are being ignored, but still, there is a better way to constructively use our frustrations to move forward. This brings us back to the same issue; why does the Singaporean government not listen to all these frustrated people banging their desks, shouting out loud, but invites 17 year olds to seminars, only to turn back the hard questions when the questions they don’t want to hear pop up? In management theory, we call this resistance to communication. But in management theory, employees can quit; quitting the country is altogether another thing.

I will end this before it becomes another rant. Young people have energy, but we only have so much. And we are getting tired and not any younger…. Please, listen to us.


*The above was first posted as a note on Facebook


9 Responses to “In defence of Gen Y & the strawberry generation – Why do Singaporeans hate each other so much?”

  1. Jardel said

    Dear Mr. Tan, you have alot of chances to change this country to the way that you desire. Come GE2016, exercise it. Dun follow your parents who will only suck pap cocks and balls. Thks.

    Good Luck when you enter this society. All the best.

  2. It’s really not that they don’t want to answer the questions posed by our GenY. Truth be told, our multi-million$ ministers just aint worth their $$$m as they’re simply not up to the mark to respond the way 1st world ministers elsewhere wld. So the easy way out of their quandary was, like Big Nose B@#lshit, to throw the question back at the young-uns to ask what they thought, b’cos he didn’t know!!

  3. Alan Lau said

    Frankly, its the education system that got Singapore into this shit … If Singaporeans of the old are taught to help or protect your own countrymen, this very thing will not have happened. This is what PAP is doing to everyone very well … divided and their destruction ensured … united and they stand strong …

  4. Dreamer said

    Good one… Kids these days don’t just follow books blindly.. They are well equipe with knowledge outside the school.. Thanks to alternate media.. And of course our gobalisation.. Otherwise we will b closed up by communist countries. This is “revolution” when the new gen came to the world, it is already mordenlise, this is how they grown up, with new tech., well educated.. Materiala ect.. This is developed countries. So stop compare and complaint we do not appreciate the old gen hardship n we shld remind in low quality of life.. If that ia so, ask the millionaire ministers take their wages from the 60s or the 80s…then we may talk..!

  5. SoFDMC said

    *I apologise beforehand if any of my opinion below generalizes or makes sweeping statements as I am basing my opinion on my prior work experience.

    Thank you Mr Tan for putting it in clear and easy to understand language. If I had tried saying the above, I would have surely descended into cuss words, rants and frustrations halfway through.

    ‘Employees can quit, quitting a country is a another thing altogether.’ Pretty much said it. It is actually people like ‘Old Guard’ who are the reason why the younger generations are behaving the way he claims them to behave. We are never told in tertiary education (ITE, poly, JC or university) the nature of the working world and the kind of managers we have who regard us newcomers to the company as a threat to their salary and their promotion.

    So either they pretend to help us with their 100% fake smiles and backstab us later, or outright let us know we are scum to them, or do both and use us to step on our heads to get to higher level.

    Then its up to us to either join them in their pathetic power-tripping, childish games and sell our souls to the devil or try maintain our integrity in the shite we call the workplace and withstand the pressure for as long as your mental capacity can take, or leave the company for hopefully greener pastures.

    But of course being in Singapore as most in the working world would agree its the same wherever you go. So its just a never ending cycle.

  6. Rich Prc said

    There are too many elites who want to prove their capabilities. That is why we are ignored?

  7. Cheekia2 said


  8. clever said

    “but whoever it is written by” – this sentence is very awkward. There are many other strange sentences too in the article.

  9. P Koh said

    Knowing the problems is the starting point and the focus should not be on the problems once you know them. The focus should be shifted to finding the SOLUTIONS. Otherwise, you have brought out some good pointers and as you said, why don’t the Government listen to the people and understand the problems that they are facing. If you can read Chinese, you will understand why the word “Listen” (old version) was written that way by breaking up the characters. Literally, it is to teach us to listen with our ears, see clearly with our eyes and use one heart to make decisions and then you can become the king.

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