Writer Of The Week

Mr Tan Yang Long enjoys listening to the stories and struggles of young people, and hopes that Singapore will broaden the definition of aptitude beyond academic qualifications.
Mr Tan Yang Long enjoys listening to the stories and struggles of young people, and hopes that Singapore will broaden the definition of aptitude beyond academic qualifications.PHOTO: COURTESY OF TAN YANG LONG

Who: Tan Yang Long, 20, full-time national serviceman.

My family: Eldest of three children.

My home: An HDB flat in Choa Chu Kang.

My passions: Listening to the stories and struggles of younger people and then envisioning a Singapore where they can achieve their aspirations and feel valued.

I first started writing to the Forum page in: December 2013, when I felt heartened by the efforts of several SMRT staff.

There was an unfriendly climate towards the company then, but its employees on the ground were doing their best and deserved greater appreciation.

What I write about: Once in a while, a letter appears, which, if left as it is, will convey an unjustified impression of a community or an unfair perspective of the issue at hand.

I try to respond to such letters, to offer something different. I also write about issues of the day, such as education and religious tolerance.

Why I write: Some opinions can be emotionally appealing, but further discussion might reveal a more complex problem.

Many of such issues cannot be answered with a straight "yes" or "no", but require that whichever stance you take, you have to answer uncomfortable questions and deal with difficult trade-offs.

I read the Forum page because: It makes me feel heartened that so many Singaporeans feel passionate about important causes and are willing to leverage such a platform to lobby their cause.

The Forum page is, at its heart, a diverse and vibrant community of people who care and unite to effect positive change in society.

My wish for Singapore: First, that it broadens the definition of aptitude beyond the academic one, and values people beyond paper qualifications.

Second, that Singaporeans may step forward to take ownership of our problems and a future which the Government may not always be in the best position to shape.

Third, that Singaporeans who are better off will continue to look out and provide opportunities for those who are not doing as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Writer Of The Week'. Print Edition | Subscribe