If you had followed the local news in the last 3 months, you would have asked the question, "What is wrong with Singapore's Youth today?" Frankly, if it were anywhere else except Singapore, this question would have been passe - what is wrong with youth has always been wrong with youth. But in the usually orderly and systematic Singapore, a country where you can reputedly walk the streets at night alone without beings harassed or mugged, youth gangs fighting other youth gangs, and in some instances youth attacking by-standers, this is unusual to say the least, and very worrying for everyone - the government, society and parents. Now every parent is worried any time their teenage children are spending time out on an evening, no matter where. We parents advise them to 'walk away' when there is any hint of people turning aggressive - better to be a living 'coward' than to be a dead 'hero'. At least you live to 'fight' another day for society and become a real hero.
But really, what is wrong with youth in Singapore today? Some are still reported to be involved in fights at the very same locations that shocked Singapore. Downtown East is at risk of gaining the unwelcome reputation of being a den of gangs. It first got into the news with the murder of a Polytechnic students on its premises. Of late, another 3 assault cases have been reported at Downtown East, by youth to youth. Downtown East, in various forms, has been there since I was a youth, and that is many many years ago. It used to be a quiet place for a family-and-friends-BBQ getaway. It still is. It was redeveloped over the years and has become a much more hip-and-happening destination for the family, but more so today for youth who descend on its holiday chalets, amusement parks, live shows and the great variety of food. It appears that many hot-blooded youths are attracted to it in droves and at all hours of the day. It used to be a members-only place - you had to pay an entrance fee to get into its premises. Now it is wide open. Anyone can walk in and out of the place any hour of the day, except for the holiday chalets.
Yes, there have been gang fights elsewhere on the island, some reported and some kept quiet, but Downtown East is the focus of youth mis-behaving today in Singapore. Many have written and speculated on why Singapore youth have turned out this way. But to put it in perspective, it is after all just a handful compared to the generally well-behaved youth in Singapore. And we should suspend our judgments until the original murderous youths are brought before the Courts. Then perhaps we can better understand what has gone wrong. In the meantime, we should advise our children to be cautious and not get into meaningless arguments and fights, and above all, not to stare at anyone. For some people, this is even worst than pointing with the middle finger. Bravado counts for little when you get a black eye for no good reason.