I am now sitting in a cafe restaurant having a late afternoon lunch. In the background, on the loudspeakers, I hear Cliff Richard singing "The Young Ones" - a song recorded in 1962, ohh,,,47 years ago. The lighting is somewhat dim, giving you a cosy feeling as you await lunch that your significant other is getting. There are a smattering of youngsters hunched over their books and notes, no doubt preparing for their exams. These exams are held around this time of the year. Never mind, the restaurant has many unfilled seats. Better to look somewhat filled than have an empty restaurant. It is, after all, 3pm. The lunch crowd has thinned and the dinner crowd is not due till 6pm, or later.
I wondered how many in the restaurant knew Cliff Richard, or how old this song really is. It probably pre-dates the year that many in the restaurant were born. It certainly pre-dates mine, if only by a year. Certainly those young people behind the service counters also fall into this group. Has the young really changed all these many years since, the so called Gen Y? They seem to be enjoying this tune, the same tune that their parents danced to in their youth. I don't know what Cliff Richard's generation is called. They represented the baby boomer generation after World War II. Gen A perhaps? Much has been made of how the Gen Y are a different breed today, the incessant connectedness on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and, of course, their SMS via Handphones. These gadgets weren't there for the Gen As, perhaps for the Gen X, but not as pervasive as today's youth. However the change, "The Young Ones" remains evergreen.
Which raises the question, that at heart, are the Gen Y really different? The last General Election seems to suggest that the government needs to engage the young ones more, that more young people are needed in politics and government. The disaster for them, of course, is to find someone as young as Ms Tin Pei Ling , only 27 years old, keyed into the consumer-oriented culture of the young, such as hugging a Kate Spade bag. She stood for the General Elections and won, albeit through a back door. There was immediate calls for her to be sacked because many people felt that she is undeserving. But are these young ones all the same? Not really. One doesn't need to look far. Nicole Seah, only 24, spoke with conviction and maturity well beyond her years, and consigned her team mates to playing second fiddle to her, people old enough to be her parents.
So it is not the young ones. Rather, its is the conviction, the imagination and the creativity, young or old, Nicole Seah and George Yeo, that really matters. Let's not swing from a lost end to solely the young generation, only to lose the older generation, in time to come. Surely MM Lee and SM Goh's admonition to "always have in mind the interest of the older generation...the generation who has contributed to Singapore must be well-looked after" bears remembering. For after all that is said and done, we are one big family, young or old, Gen A or Gen Y.