PM Goh scolds self-centred youth
The Nation, Bangkok
March 18, 2001

MANY young Singaporeans are too wrapped up in their own interests and careers to play or even consider active roles in society and country. But the problem is not unique to Singapore.

Even in the United States, there is now a generation without public passion, said Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong Mar 17, citing a recent report.

Spared by history, American youths today have no cause bigger than themselves to believe in, the report said.

"The younger Singaporeans have never known a hostile environment," said Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong Mar 17.

"They have thus never had to consider seriously how their society could be improved so that their own lives could be better."

Voicing his concern to some 500 students, grass-roots leaders, civil-society-group members and professionals, Goh acknowledged candidly that it would be a challenge to reach out to the young.

"It is not easy to spark their idealism and tap their energies for the larger good, especially when the country is doing well and there are no life-and-death issues," he told the audience attending a youth forum at the Marine Parade Community Building.

For a start, the older generation and the government could encourage them by being more open to ideas thrown up by the young, the Prime Minister said.

Young people on their part should not be disheartened or give up if not all of their suggestions are taken up by the government, he said.

He urged more of them to volunteer for welfare organisations, self-help groups and grass-roots activities or even to make a study of community issues for school projects.

Mr Goh, who was the guest-of-honour at the forum organised by the Marine Parade Community Development Council, praised it as 'a good initiative' that brought youths together to discuss issues.

Launched in November last year, the Community Expression@Marine Parade is a series of forums for people aged 15 to 25, where they compete at policy-making.

They had to propose solutions to issues like bringing arts to the heartland, encouraging green action, bridging the digital divide and fostering community participation.