1. Reflect on youth apathy towards politics. Draw on examples from China, the United States and Singapore in your reflections. Before I go into the topic, let’s make clear the definition of the term ‘political apathy’ first. Political apathy is public or individual indifference towards political events and movements. Sad to say, this term that is coined up applies in most cases to youths in today’s society. And by youths, they are those who are born in the 1980s, of age 20 and above currently.
Though political apathy being present in the States, China and Singapore is an undeniable fact, the political apathy will still be different in one way or another, depending on where you are looking at. First, let us go into political apathy amongst youths in the United States of America. In this ever-changing global society, what really matters is, to put it simply, to earn as much bucks as you can, and climb the ladder of success. As long as one has affluence and wealth, that is considered success. Politics? Where does that fit into the jigsaw puzzle? Nowhere.
So, logical and clear-minded youths of the American society, in their younger days of schooling, would have just plainly concentrated on their studies, rather than devoting that one hour just to catch up with the daily news happenings. A few years back, there has been a widespread commotion over a video that has been spread online all over the world, which depicted American’s “stupidity”. Random American passers-by were halted to answer some general knowledge questions with relation to their homeland. Amazingly, questions like “Who’s the vice-president? and “Name the ruling political party” managed to stump almost all interviewees. Even a question like “Where does the President reside in? ” receives a variety of amusing answers, with only few evidences of “The White House”. Viewers from all over the world are literally laughing hard at Americans’ ignorance of their own country’s affairs, and the reputation of Americans took another blow. But, that’s not the main point. The point is that due to the higher standards of living, people just do not care that much anymore.
Affluence is breeding political apathy: The status quo is fine, why rock the boat and capsize it? Only in recent 2008, during the Presidential Elections where Barack Obama was elected as the first Black President, do we see a positive change in this political apathy. This improvement is most likely due to the glaring fact that the Bush administration had indeed screwed up big time, and the people really want to see a “change”. And to see that “change” happen, maybe it’s time to start following up on politics?
Now, let’s head across the North Pacific Ocean to the People’s Republic of China. Political apathy in China is slightly different from that of America’s, while still similar in terms of neglect due to the higher standards of living. In China, youths are unofficially referred to as the “Me Generation”, which implies the self-centeredness of this generation of people. Like most of the Americans, earning money is the aim of Chinese youths as well, and indeed, they have earned loads of it over the past few years.
Now, along the bustling streets of China, it is not uncommon to find youths chatting over a cup of latte at Starbucks, wearing branded clothing and accessories, or splurging on luxury goods at factory outlets. Having all this material wealth seems to have satisfied these youths, and as pragmatic as they are, why would they be the least bothered with meddling in politics anyway? After all, none of these well-to-do youths would want to compromise all their hard-earned “success” by tipping the balance of power in the political arena.
Unlike their parents who lived through Mao’s reign, they now taste success in their careers and lives, and to keep it that way, they will just have to be less upfront in the political scene. Who knows, starting a revolution to fight for democracy might just trigger off yet another tragedy similar to those of the past? It’s just not worth the risk. However, it would still be unfair to be over-generalising Chinese youths as politically apathetic. If we look in further, we will realise that they are actually enthusiastic and well-informed on political issues.
Youths in China participate actively in online forums regarding the policies that the Hu administration implements, and are really more knowledgeable in current affairs than Americans and Singaporeans. Furthermore, since there has been much corruption and limited freedom, majority of Chinese have yet to enjoy the kind of life they desire, making it only logical to not be apathetic toward politics. Who would not be eager to see the eradication of the rich-poor gap and corruption altogether? Last but not least, let’s shift the perspective back to our little red dot.
Singaporean youths have spent most of their lives, if not entirely, in peace and prosperity. There is simply no calling from within youths to rise up to the occasion and take over the reins from our political leaders. Most youths do not even know who their ministers are, let alone have the passion to take stepping into the political arena as their lifelong goal. Frankly speaking, we are not too concerned over present and future political issues, nor are we very critical of the governmental system (set in place for as long as Singapore stood as an independent state, which explains our strong belief in the ruling party).
As long as our standard of life does not drop too much, we are pretty much contented. However, it is impossible that such political apathy would create suitable conditions for training future politicians. Thus, this political apathy among our youths is still something to fret over, and it is of paramount importance that we rack our brains over this and come up with a solution to save the day and our future. But that, will be another issue for another day.