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Understanding our youths

January 9, 2017

The IPOH signboard climbers were only exercising their creativity, challenging their own physical strength and displaying their unusual bravery.

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By Tay Tian Yan

Like me, I am sure many of you have watched the viral YouTube video of a few youngsters climbing the “IPOH” signboard beside the North-South Highway.

Perched on a hill slope, these four letters are said to be over 100 metres tall, equivalent to the height of a building about 30 to 40 storeys. Not many have the courage or stamina to challenge this height.

But these youngsters, men and women, have not only scaled the unthinkable, but have displayed a number of hair-raising stunts that will awe many.

Your immediate reaction might be that these youngsters are so courageous and physically capable. After that, the next reaction might be fear for their safety, especially in the absence of any safety measures, such as safety harnesses.

To be honest, I have since had a different perception of our Malaysian youngsters, in particular the Malays, after that incident. These people appeared to be so energetic, adventurous, and creative, too.

Don’t you think so? Motorists along the highway have seen the four letters over and over again, but how many would ever have the fanciful thought of climbing the signboard and breaking free mid-air?

That was how I felt actually.

Of course, the police launched an investigation several days later, taking their statements and had considered prosecution, while members of the public had dismissed their daredevil act as unscrupulous and detrimental to public property.

I beg to differ, though.

Indeed, what they did was very dangerous, and could be against the law. I have absolutely nothing against the police launching the investigation.

But, these kids are really so unusual, and in no way should they be compared alongside the life-threatening Mat Rempits who pose risks not only to their own lives but also other roadusers.

Neither should we compare them with the troublemakers after the New Year countdown, who were deliberately destroying public property.

No way should they be compared with the wild drug-taking teenagers in a sex party, who are killing their own future.

The signboard climbers were demonstrating a totally different kind of spirit, exercising their creativity, challenging their own physical strength and displaying their unusual bravery.

Of course, it would be better if they had all the safety measures in place and applied to the authorities beforehand to climb the signboard lawfully.

I am not encouraging young people to emulate them. I only feel that people my age, who used to be youngsters sometime ago, do not seem to know our youngsters today too well, and that what we have demanded from these young people is at times self-conflicting.

Our education and culture have demanded total obedience from the young. They are made to follow the rules and the footsteps of people older than them in order to be seen as responsible and useful people.

Frail and vulnerable

But, people growing up this way generally lack independent thinking capability and a spirit to challenge themselves. They will never be adventurous or go anywhere further.

Many young people today are so frail and vulnerable. They can’t take hardships nor do they have very high expectations from themselves, although they do have high expectations from other people, including their parents and the government.

These young people will never outperform those in the previous generation, and we can hardly pin our hopes on them venturing out of the country to compete with the rest of the world.

We should encourage young people to think independently, nurture their judgement capability and respect their values and what they think of themselves, exploit their potential and the courage to challenge themselves while instilling forward-thinking mentality in them. This is the best we can give to our younger generation.

To the youngsters who climbed the “IPOH” signboard, we should perhaps spare the rod, and hopefully, through what they did, get to know them a little better and appreciate their youthfulness.

Tay Tian Yan writes for Sin Chew Daily.

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