‘Don’t stereotype youths based on latest incidents’

Chua Yini

The general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, William Wan, said Singaporeans must be careful about “stereotyping” youths in general as being rude.

Referring to the latest incident of a Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) student who drew flak from netizens after tweeting a vulgar post about Indians, Wan said it is only a few bad apples who post such derogatory comments.

On Tuesday, just hours after NUS scholar Sun Xu was fined and censured for calling Singaporeans “dogs” on his microblog, poly student Lai  Shimun also tweeted a rude post urging Indians to take their “own form of transport” and that trains needed “separate cabins for humans and ----ing dogs.”

Last year, a 14-year-old schoolgirl boasted about slapping her mother on Facebook, coupled with vulgarities, and 18-year-old Aaron Tan posted an expletive-laced Youtube video threatening a 14-year-old boy for supposedly making advances on his ex-girlfriend. Both incidents made the news and shocked many with their rude, anti-social behaviour.

 “Many of these things are done or said by a small number of people, and of course we don’t know what’s behind the motivation, so we can’t really speculate about that. But I don’t think we should think that she [Shimun Lai] represents young people as a whole,” said Wan.

He added that the fact that many other people responded and reacted to Lai’s comment was a good sign as it showed that they did not tolerate such acts.

In fact, Wan said youths showed the greatest increase in graciousness among Singaporean adults of all ages, according to the recent Graciousness Index by the Singapore Kindness Movement 2012 (SKM).

The Index, which measures how gracious a society Singapore is, revealed that the ratings for Gen Y jumped significantly, while Gen X and Babyboomers remained relatively stable in their graciousness ratings.

Singaporeans like 24-year-old Darius Zheng echoed Wan’s views, saying that “there are always black sheep around”.

“I think there are always such people around but I would like to think that majority of Singaporean youths are fine, and they know what to speak in public and what not to,” the NTU year three student said.

He added that the results of the study are not surprising as “Gen Y does have a greater chance at education, which actually affects graciousness”.

Similarly, NTU final year student Anqi Lim applauded the findings. “I guess it's possibly another indication that this generation is maturing fast. First seen in the recent political elections where this generation took a stand and had a mind of their own, and now and indicator of leap in graciousness. I believe it bodes well for our future as our youths grow,” said the 23-year-old.

In recent years, SKM has recorded a stable level of graciousness in Singapore, with the index at 2012 standing at 61, a slight increase from last year’s Index of 60.

Other findings from the survey highlighted that people in middle income households now see Singapore as a more gracious society. However, graciousness on public transport falls short.

The study polled 1,400 residents about their own behavior, and those of others, about social etiquette and standards in Singapore.