Two Sides of a Millenium

By Marcus Koe, Yale-NUS College ’17 – See bio

I was deeply disturbed when I heard rumors that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed away. It might be obvious that a Singaporean Citizen such as I would grief the passing of my country’s figurehead, foremost founding father, patron and guru. But beyond that, more sinister undercurrents – abandonment, renewal, expectation and responsibility – tickled my senses.

Who abandons? Who renews? Who expects? Who gives up and who accepts responsibility? Now I am forced to say (as many have said before) that there are two types of people in the world: those who have lived the majority of their lives before the millennium (as of now referred to as the Elders) and those who will live the majority of their lives after (Millennium’s Children). There is some overlap but pardon the discrepancy.

The signs are everywhere. Elders are abandoning and dumping responsibilities onto Millennium’s Children. To ease expectations, I shall limit most of my analysis to Singapore. Wait, I must admit to a darker reason: the need to vent frustration. There I was one week ago brimming with expectations for my favourite beef kway teow when I discovered that the Elder had retired and abandoned his Millennium’s Child to carelessly pick beef slices in his specter. I slapped renewal in the face.

Are we ready for renewal? Apparently not. We reject the inflow of foreigners and refuse to renew our own lineage. Will renewal be good for us? We seem too afraid as a nation to even consider the possibility. The status quo works, it should stay. But we sometimes forget that Elders do die and what’s left will be Millennium’s Children.

So we settle for “what’s left” – Millennium’s Children, forever unable to mirror legacies which Elders leave behind. There are two reasons I see which explain this. Firstly, Elders have drained the Ribena from the popsicle, leaving plain boring ice; ice that would melt and flood the world of Millennium’s Children. Secondly, Millennium’s Children can never become Elders by definition. They must trail blaze and find their own way, as old mirrors distort and must be shattered.

Renewal then takes place, inevitably, and alongside it, expectations and responsibilities abound. Our new cabinet is a clear example. Slowly “abandoned” by Elders and renewed by Millennium’s Children, it struggles for credibility in the midst of skepticism, scrutiny and the monster of expectation. I will, as a lover of parallels, identify our college as a soul mate or twin. Born of Millennium’s Children and a child of two “Elder” parents, YNC deals with the expectations of renewing education systems while continuing legacies amidst the same struggles. Great responsibility calls.

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