SINGAPORE - Mrs Marietta Koh Ai-meng's concerns about the young people of today are largely unfounded, primarily because she has mischaracterised their desire for work-life balance as a lack of hunger ("Where's the hunger?"; last Saturday).
The two are not mutually exclusive - a desire for work-life balance does not demonstrate a lack of hunger, drive or even ambition.
In fact, a proper balance between time dedicated to work and recreation empowers one to continue working optimally over a longer period.
In this regard, the desire for work-life balance is merely reflective of a deeper desire for sustainability.
Perhaps, as Mrs Koh pointed out, this could be partly attributed to the education system, which effectively offers no rest for students from Primary 1 to the end of junior college, polytechnic or the Institute of Technical Education.
It is only at the tertiary stage, where classes are more flexible and tuition classes no longer necessary, that the young begin to see the need for a lifestyle that strikes a better balance between work and recreation.
"Hunger" cannot be used as the ultimate measure of a generation's state of maturity.
A person's "hunger", whether for food, competition or, in this case, economic growth, cannot be taken as the overarching measure of his life.
One who lives by his hunger will either end up in an unhealthy state of near-obesity or complete burn-out.
So a balance between work and play is essential as it allows us to work optimally and efficiently in a sustainable manner. This bodes well for "an economy that is dependent on its people".
Therefore, the ability to identify and acknowledge the value of sustainability, and the courage to manage one's "hunger" sufficiently to ensure balance in life, is an indication of true maturity in the young people of today.
- Jonathan Cho