Of Youth and Opportunities

It was really traumatic reading how a youth was hacked by several other youths in Downtown East last month. The young man Darren Ng later died in hospital and 9 other young men have now been charged with Darren's murder.

It transpired that the youth who died and the others supposedly belong to different gangs and that the brutal hacking was for no apparent reason.

One would have thought that the days of criminal gangs and their activities in Singapore were over in the 1960s.

Now that it seems that there is a resurgence of these gangs, it is time for reflection.
The criminal gangs of old flourished at a time when there was a lack of educational and job opportunities.

Singapore has come a long way since.

Today's youth, one must say, are spoilt for choice whether it is in the field of education or jobs.

Just look at the range of scholarships offered- from the President's scholarship to PSC scholarships and the innumerous others offered by MAS, CPF, EDB, and indeed by practically all statutory boards, not to mention those offered by Sinda, Mendaki, CDAC, Singapore Indian Education Trust, SPH Holdings Pte.Ltd. and several other foundations.

These are not just offered for those seeking to study in Universities, a number of them offer scholarships for Polytechnic and ITE studies as well.

There is an even wider range of bursaries and grants for students who excel in some field and who want an education that is best suited to their talent.

I know of no other country where talent is encouraged, nurtured and indeed well taken care of in terms of education, job opportunities and even remuneration if one wants to be particular.

In fact it is easy to pinpoint countries where the best students do not always get the best educational or job opportunities in life.

Worse still, these students often have to give way to less able students in terms of places in Universities and jobs in the Civil Service.

Then again, few governments in the world support educational tours for their children the way Singapore does and this is not just for the bright students but indeed for all.

About two years ago, I was living temporarily in a flat in Geylang East prior to buying my current flat.

My son then was studying in a Secondary three class in ACS(I).

His grades had improved markedly in one term as compared to the previous term.

For this, he received a cheque for $150/ in his name from the Community Centre as a reward for showing improvement in his studies.

Singapore is perhaps the only country where a student gets cash rewards of this nature for merely doing what he is supposed to be doing.

Youth, as one scholar put it, is an opportunity, not an achievement.

It is an opportunity to do great things in life.

Is it to be frittered away like this in senseless fights and killings?

The truly robust individuals can take up vigorous sporting events and excel in them or they could sign up in the Armed Forces where there are several courses to really gratify those seeking a robust way of life.

I have a brother who enjoyed the army way of life when he was there as a National Serviceman.

He was a small arms instructor, having been a marksman in his trainee days, and went on to be a part of the scout platoon in his Combat unit where he was given a motorcycle to carry out his reconnaissance duties as an intelligence personnel in the Forces.

He had to drop the Physical Instructor's course for which he was selected only because he preferred the scout platoon course for which he was also selected.

Needless to say, he thoroughly enjoyed his National Service days.

With such diverse opportunities readily available, it is time for Singapore's youth to really ponder about the real meaning of life and where their place in history lies.

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