I thought that on the whole, the event went well. Alex Au (Yawning Bread) spoke, and then I spoke, and then we had a Q&A session. Judging from the questions asked, I think that the students had found our speeches quite thought-provoking. Questions came thick and fast, with students actually having to form a queue at the mike to get their chance to ask a question.
For me, one memorable part of the session was when a Malay student stepped forward and asked us whether we thought racism is a serious problem in Singapore. This led to a lively discussion with other Malay, Indian and Chinese students coming forward to ask more questions and relate their personal experiences in multiracial Singapore. They spoke with a lot of frankness and honesty and at the end of this, I could not help wondering whether the government has done the right thing in making race & religion such a taboo topic in Singapore. Maybe what we really need is more open, frank engagement and discussion on race and religion.
I kept my main speech quite safe, but during the Q&A session, could not suppress my true self and my mouth kept opening to utter politically incorrect things. Someone asked, "Do you think that Singapore's youth are adequately represented in Parliament?" and I replied, "How can that be, Parliament doesn't even adequately represent the people of Singapore." The student then said, "But isn't it important for the government to take note of youth issues?" and I replied, "Yes, but Parliament isn't really "government". Parliament is just a collection of 84 people in a room, and most of whom are there by walkovers."
Heheh, I really know how to amuse myself. If no one else.
I hope everyone had plenty of food of thought, because I myself certainly did. Not just about the actual subject-matter of discussion. After the event, I found my mind drifting into more philosophical kinds of questions as well. In a very odd way, I suddenly felt more sympathetic to Lee Kuan Yew. The generation gap is not an imaginary thing, it is very real, and sometimes you really have to make some major leaps inside your head to see things the way another generation sees them.
Lee Kuan Yew tried, he failed, he's out of touch, and maybe we shouldn't blame him. If anything, blame it on Father Time. It's tough. I had some problems today myself, and unlike LKY, I don't even have any personal or party ideology to defend.
Oh, it was fun meeting Alex Au. Based on his blog, I'd expected to see someone a little aggressive, a little forceful, a "no nonsense" sort of personality. In fact, the real Alex is warm, friendly, humorous, humble, genuinely nice, no airs. Oh, and articulate, intelligent, very knowledgeable, but that much you can tell from his blog already.
Might blog more about this event later .... or I might not. That's it for today. See ya!
Update: Alex Au blogs in detail about his own speech.