Idealism needed for Singapore's long-term interests

I agree with Professor Kishore Mahbubani that idealism in Singaporean youngsters is taking a back seat in favour of pragmatism ("In search of Singaporean idealism"; Feb 20).

In general, Singaporean youngsters are moving ahead with an individualistic goal, rather than nurturing an idealistic dream.

They are pursuing prosperity for themselves and their family, and setting aside the role of idealistic dreamer for national leaders and those in the political domain.

They become obsessed and engrossed in the ever-competitive world of education and jobs to enrich their future career.

History tells us that passion for invention and idealism comes out of necessity and an urge to make life better. Herein lies the basic paradox of Singapore's present state of affairs.

The pace of prosperity in the past 50 years, along with social and political stability, has thrown the Singaporean young into a comfort zone, and they don't intend to venture out and change the status quo.

Without the young having the spark of idealism, Singapore's prosperity may be short-lived. For the sake of our long-term interests, we have to motivate them with dreams to build a better nation.

Prof Mahbubani's suggestion, to expose youngsters to the "not so prosperous" neighbours around, is an excellent idea which will help to enlarge their youthful mind space, and may help to build a spirit of idealism.

Another factor could also play a part - Singaporeans are supposed to have a "Confucius" legacy, where "follow the leader" is common practice, rather than becoming a leader with idealistic dreams.

Can we change that? Maybe; it is the right time, and it is the best time.

Atanu Roy