Is the current Singapore the Singapore we really want?

by: Vivian Chueh/

Is the current Singapore the Singapore we really want? Perhaps, it used to be, but as a sixteen-year-old who grew up here, I cannot help but critique how policies implemented and systems which are in place, have so much room for improvement.

I was reading the open letter written to the Minister of Education by the Secondary 4 girl and I could feel my heart trigger a little – this was what many have been wanting to say. I’m of the same age as her, and I feel the same way.

In school, we were only told to memorise things word by word and at most of the times we don’t even understand the meanings.

I believe that Singaporean youths have talents. It’s just that they have not been trained to think critically or in terms of general knowledge. Their innovation and creativity have been stripped off by the local education system which only taught them how to memorize words.

Sometimes, I really wonder if I would ever apply the concepts I studied in A Maths, such as logarithms and binomials, which I guess would never be ever used after I step out of the school compound on the day of graduation. I went to research on the use of the binomial theorem, and found out that it was mostly used to calculate the possibilities in a gambling game. So unless I grow up to become a gambler, I don’t think I would ever make use of that concept.

I would like to study media in a Polytechnic after graduating (even if I do qualify for junior college), because I have grown sick and tired of studying things that are useless to me in the future.

But some of my classmates are not so lucky though, as they are pressurised by their parents and relatives, who still have the traditional thinking that JCs are better. And growing up under such an education system, only makes us less innovative and hence, supposedly inferior to the talents from other countries.

So who’s fault is that?

When I first spoke about my political views at an open house of an opposition party, many were surprised at my level of maturity, and that I am only a sixteen-year-old. Born in Taiwan and from a politically-connected family, I’ve seen how youths as young as 12 engage in politics in Taiwan.

I am surprised how Singaporean youngsters were so turned off and unconcerned about what’s going on in their country. It wouldn’t be a surprise for a sixteen-year-old to be speaking in political rallies in Taiwan or many other countries, but I see the opposite being true in Singapore.

When I asked my friends about their political views, most of them would tell me they are not interested. But to think again, there is a reason behind it. The reason being unfairness and predilection in this city-state.

I once read an article published by the mainstream media, about increasing the awareness of the teenagers on politics and public issues. But I think instead of promoting the awareness and giving the teenagers some space to think and analyze policies and issues, the article started telling them what’s right or wrong, which snips away the critical thinking of the youngsters.

I was abraded by the bias and prejudiced articles published by the state controlled media. It was quite obvious even to a 16-year-old like me, that many articles are selected in favor of the ruling party – especially those published during the election period.

My friend once asked me, “why are you spending so much time raising concerns to the government, will they even listen?”. This question precisely underscores the reason why many are unwilling to get involved in politics.

The reason I am interested in politics, is because I want to see changes.

But if the outcry and unhappiness of young people like me is not going to get through (as the state-controlled media keeps rejecting my letters), I, too, see no point in engagement. Perhaps, nothing will change.

Please do take a good look around you; at the Singapore that is around you. Please don’t be afraid to stand for what you believe in. If you see that things are not right, have the courage to speak up.

Don’t wait for things to happen; make it happen!