As you will be aware, UMNO in Malaysia has, since the mid 1990s, been losing the support of younger Malay voters. In an attempt to correct this, UMNO in the early and mid noughties conducted dialogues between the senior politicians and Malay voters in their 20s. An intellectual who attended a few of these sessions told me how they went: comically tragic.
The politicians reminded the young Malays of what UMNO had done for the Malays and told them that they shld be grateful for the affirmative policies and vote UMNO.
The young responded by saying, “Why should we be grateful? We were born after the implementation of these policies. If you remove these policies, you are the bigger losers, not us. What concerns us is the future and not history.” They then went on to list their grievances: lack of job opportunities, inflation, corruption and so on.
My friend says the politicians couldn’t accept this answer and called the young, ungrateful and rude. Something he said that did the UMNO no good. UMNO did not get their votes. But he says post-2008, UMNO is learning to accept that young Malays don’t do gratitude, and has begun addressing their concerns, rather than lecturing them, telling them that they should be grateful.
Translating this into our context, reading the ST articles on their collaboration with MM on his latest book, I get the sense that MM is not happy with younger S’poreans because he thinks that they do not appreciate (and are not grateful) for what he and the PAP have done for them.
At the same time, as a fifty-something, I get the impression that the young here, like their Malay counterparts in M’sia, don’t do gratitude for what to them is ancient history.
Who can blame them with these prices* for HDB BTO flats at Punggol Topaz.
But I don’t hear them openly and publicly articulating this (only perhaps anonymously on the Internet). They are too polite or cowed or confused or think their views don’t matter? ? Or a combination of these?
Let’s watch how the 20-somethings vote. But any robust analysis depends on the Opposition contesting all the seats.
*$166,000 to $207,000 for a 3-room flat;
$267,000 to $329,000 for a 4-room flat; and
$335,000 to $406,000 for a 5-room flat. (from HDB website)
Comparing these prices to what their grandparents and parents paid, if I were a 20-sumething, I wouldn’t do gratitude for what MM and the governing party have done since 1959. Wages have not done up that much but then, though to be fair, neither has ministers’ salaries vis-a-vis property prices.