A disturbing trend ….. The demanding generation or is it?

Askmelah’s Note: spoilt by the parents, live-in maids and the Government, the new generation of citizens are ever more outspoken and much more demanding than the earlier generations. From asking for University places as if it is their birth-right to private condo style subsidised HDB housing, covered walkways to avoid sunshine and rain and air-conditioning of everything from cars, buses, schools and now army units. Before they can meaningful contribute to the country, they are asking what the state can do for them or else they will vote with their feet or their votes (my own take of the last election result: while the older generations votes for the job and social issues, many young people voted against the Government for the housings and jobs). The future of Singapore indeed looks bleak.

[Updated 29Oct2011] The letter “Don’t dismiss youth as materialistic” written by Tan Jiaqi gives us a peek of the plight faced by the young generation of Singaporeans: increasing globalisation leads to higher competition with foreigners, lesser opportunities even if you work hard, skyrocketing property price means the Singaporean dreams are slipping away from many young parents except the successful few…… My take is while the social and political factors do play a big part, perhaps the individuals have to moderate their own expectations as well and look beyond materialistic needs. Higher pay (or higher GDP) does not mean happier persons. Something for our politicians and citizens to think very hard about what do we really want?


Ideal home is not an entitlement

Source: The Sunday Times, Jun 19, 2011

I refer to writer Gladys Chung’s commentary last Sunday (‘We want a flat in a convenient location…’) on young couples’ ‘housing woes’ – or rather, housing demands.

I am incredulous at the way she and the younger generation think.

The writer is in effect saying that she must have her flat in a location of her choice and it must come at a price that is to her liking!

The younger generation, having grown up in blissful comfort, now demand not just branded clothes and electronic goods from their parents, but have also extended their sense of entitlement to housing and transport.

Places such as Toa Payoh and Bishan are expensive because of the demand. If Ms Chung wants a property in these places, she must accept that it will come at a premium price.

People like her have forgotten that home ownership is not a norm in other countries. It is the norm in Singapore because we have been fortunate.

It is extremely worrying that Singaporeans are now so comfortable that many take home ownership as a God-given right, and demand that their homes be in places they want, and not in ‘outlying’ estates such as Sengkang or Punggol.

And the homes must be cheap to boot, since these young people do not want to be ‘shackled to an exorbitant housing loan for 30 years’.

It is a fact of life that if one wants to live in a place that is popular, then one pays a higher price. It is not anyone’s fault – and certainly not the Government’s – that these basic real-estate pricing principles apply.

Should the Government make sure that people get their dream cars as well?

The fact is, the prices of flats are affordable in Singapore. In order to purchase these, the strategy is to save money. A 30-year mortgage is not unusual. The key is to ensure that one is comfortable meeting the monthly payments.

Do away with the branded clothes and the expensive iPhones and annual holidays (which, like home ownership, are now seen as essentials). That was how it was done in the past, so why should it be any different now?

The writer mentioned the thought of leaving Singapore – ‘since we could not afford to buy a home here in a location we loved, we thought we might as well delay our plans to have a baby right after marriage, relocate somewhere with more exciting opportunities and pay rent’.

My guess is she will not get her way in other countries either. She might get her cheap house, but it will be far away from her parents.

Property prices in New York and Sydney are probably also very high. Which brings me to my point: No one owes the younger generation a living. The sooner they realise that, the sooner this sense of entitlement is replaced by reality.

Robin Low

Housing views from a young couple

You can find the original article by Glady here. A brief extract below:

“I am getting married in six months. But my fiance and I have not settled on a flat yet as we are hoping to get a new Build-to-Order (BTO) Housing Board unit in a mature estate. In the meantime, we will be bunking in with my in-laws.

Skyville@Dawson BTO Flats. Image courtesy of HDB.

We sing the same tune as many other young couples: We want to be in a convenient location – one that’s near our parents and in-laws. We are in our late 20s and cannot afford to pay $1 million or more for private housing. We don’t want to spend on a pricey resale HDB flat either.

Anyway, I believe there’s more to life than being shackled to an exorbitant housing loan for 30 years.

Like my fiance, who works in a bank, I don’t see the point of buying a home in an outlying estate for a lower price when we will end up spending more on transport. For me, settling for such a flat just because it is more affordable and I have a greater chance of getting one, is as flawed a decision as buying an ill-fitting skirt just because it is on discount.

We were among the thousands rejected for the Dawson BTO flats in Queenstown that were launched in 2009. The combined 1,718 flats at SkyVille@Dawson and Sky Terrace@Dawson garnered 10,098 applications.

Apart from balloting for some leftover flats in Hougang last year – again, we were not selected – we haven’t applied for a flat since because most of the BTOs were not in areas we favour. My parents live in Serangoon Gardens, so I hope to get a flat in Bishan, Ang Mo Kio or Toa Payoh.

My fiance and I were ever wondering if we should leave Singapore and explore options elsewhere – since we could not afford to buy a home here in a location we loved, we thought we might as well delay our plans to have a baby right after marriage, relocate somewhere with more exciting opportunities and pay rent.”


Don’t dismiss youth as materialistic

Source: The Straits Times  Oct 29, 2011

MADAM Geraldine Cheong noted yesterday that young Singaporeans link money to happiness and suggested that their unhappiness, which was reflected in a recent survey, indicates that they are overly materialistic compared with middle-aged baby boomers (‘Examine values of our youth’).

But a critical difference between the baby boomers and the generation of younger twenty- something Singaporeans like me, who are just starting out carving a career and perhaps considering marriage and raising a family, is that the baby boomers faced much gentler circumstances when they started out.

Two decades ago, globalisation was barely nascent, home prices ate up a far lower proportion of median incomes, and median incomes were growing at a higher rate than they are today.

The baby boomers lived during a time when meritocracy was a good word, and where a promise of social mobility was far more realistic – so that a citizen who worked hard, regardless of background and beginnings, would have a good life.

Twenty-somethings of today certainly benefited from the outcome of the baby-boomer generation. Parents have largely provided us with comfortable lives, we have had a good education and we grew up believing in the same values: that if we worked hard, we could provide an equally good life for our families in time to come.

Growing up in comfortable HDB flats, we believed that we would be able to do even better – buy the same, or even better, flats than our parents – and raise the bar.

However, we face much greater challenges today as twenty-somethings: competition in education from a young age, from the foreign students in secondary schools, junior colleges and universities; competition in jobs from foreign talent, and even competition in housing.

Social mobility has been increasingly stymied. The Singapore dream that working hard will get you somewhere is fast slipping away for our generation.

We face unfair competition from cheaper, even if not necessarily better, foreigners at all levels of jobs. Entry- to mid-level salaries are becoming depressed, and housing prices are increasing unabated.

Yes, our generation is unhappy, but not because we hanker after enormous amounts of money, but because it is dawning on us that we may do far worse than our parents’ generation even though we have worked hard.

It would be foolish to dismiss our generation as being merely materialistic.

Tan Jiaqi



I WAS hardly surprised to read about the debt problem among some youth in Singapore. In my early 30s, I know quite well how some in my age group are easy with their spending. For instance, they think little of spending on handbags that cost thousands of dollars, sometimes even a five-figure sum.

The lavish spending habits of my peers started long ago. I remember as a teen, girls were decked out in bright red lipstick, all-black ensembles with a distinctive Ferragamo belt around their tiny waist, while boys had to have Versace or Armani jeans. This group has since moved on to buying Louis Vuitton bags, Rolex watches, flashy BMWs and condominiums as their first home. The bottom line is: We are a materialistic society that places emphasis on status and image. We’ve got to have all the right brands, the ones that tell everyone we’re rich and successful.

My car is a Mitsubishi Colt and I have almost never bought a branded handbag. The only time I did was a second-hand one in a charity auction on eBay. I admit there are days when I feel everyone is rolling in cash but me, especially when, on two occasions, someone called my brand of car ‘a joke’ and another told me that, when you carry a particular brand of expensive handbag, you will never want to carry anything else.

Curious to find out if this is an international phenomenon, I asked some friends for their opinions. Seeing they come from the country of luxury brands, I wanted their take. Their replies? Insanity. They feel it is insane to spend thousands on a handbag when one that costs much, much less will do. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel are reserved for the ultra rich. One French girl even told me it hardly crosses her mind to own a branded handbag. It surprised her when I said that, in Singapore, Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags are a common sight.

So why do we covet branded goods? Perhaps it’s what I once heard a wise pastor say about living beyond one’s means. ‘We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, just to impress people we don’t know’. How sadly true this seems in Singapore.

Julianna Neo (Ms)




Have air-conditioned classrooms, please


From Phua Huishan

Having returned recently to schools to be a relief teacher, I feel strongly that we need to consider why it is necessary to have air-conditioned classrooms.

With a class of 40 enthusiastic pupils, a teacher has to raise his or her voice to be heard above the chatter – and with the ceiling fans going at full speed. It is no wonder that teachers end up with problems such as a chronic cough.

As for the pupils, I understand why it is difficult to pay full attention to teachers. In these past few weeks, the heat in classrooms has been almost unbearable.

After a Physical Education lesson, it is almost impossible to be comfortable and alert for the next lesson. Given that some school uniforms require ties, the discomfort is multiplied. Stifling humidity is not conducive for optimum learning.

We have air-conditioned our public transport, our offices and our shopping centres. Why are we shortchanging our pupils by not giving them a better learning environment?

[Askmelah’s note: why not think bigger, we should design a super dome to cover the whole of Singapore (except Changi airport) and aircon it since it will raise productivity, protect the sportsman and soldiers from heatstroke and improve the quality of life of its residents. we might even export such technologies to nearby cities since we all face the same hot and humid climate. OMG, Singaporeans!]




Youth debt stems from branded-goods mania
Source: The Straits Times  28 Jun 2008