Young Singaporeans abroad and their misguided sense of superiority towards S-E Asia

It can blind them to their neighbours’ hidden strengths.

Travelling can enable Singaporeans to get a better grasp of the world, but doing so with the right mindset is vital, says the writer. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
New: Gift this subscriber-only story to your friends and family

As an undergraduate taking a course on South-east Asia nearly four decades ago, I was assigned a map exercise. Handed a blank map of South-east Asia, the class was asked to mark a list of cities in the region that the professor had put together. I realised how little I knew about South-east Asia. And I was not alone. The entire class was not able to get more than 10 per cent of the cities marked roughly in the vicinity of where they exist.

I am quite certain that if I repeated that exercise today with our students, the results would be the same. Despite young Singaporeans having had greater opportunity to travel, it is not clear to me that South-east Asia has drawn their attention in a way the region deserves.

Already a subscriber? 

Read the full story and more at $9.90/month

Get exclusive reports and insights with more than 500 subscriber-only articles every month

Unlock these benefits

  • All subscriber-only content on ST app and

  • Easy access any time via ST app on 1 mobile device

  • E-paper with 2-week archive so you won't miss out on content that matters to you

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.