Then and Now, 50 years on – A personal perspective

Not often we celebrate 50th anniversary. It comes only after 50 years. You know how long it is in human years. I may sound old, but the fact is that I lived through 50 years of Singapore history. The changes to Singapore were phenomenal. Let me share what were most impactful for me.

Social Behaviours

In my days of taking public buses, we ran for the buses and the bus drivers did not wait for you. They just moved off even when you were so near the door. Now as a result of customer service, the driver waits for you at bus stop when they can see you running for the bus. In the past, we would be standing at the exit door before the bus reached the destination. Now, it is common to see passengers take their own sweet time to alight.

As a kid, I was timid and shy. Children back then did not express themselves easily. Now the children are encouraged to speak up by their parents. They are chattier and more confident in expressing themselves.

Tuition is common and acceptable in order for kids to have an edge over others. This was so rare during my school days. Only the rich can afford private tutors. Now, you see more tuition centres and tutors advertising themselves. Tuition is now a big industry.

While growing up I was told by seniors not to speak ill of the government and political figures publicly. It was fear that someone who supported the government might report you to the authority. We were told that “the walls had ears” and to be careful when speaking in public. This fear was partly also the result of Japanese occupation where men were executed for being anti-Japanese. Now, people are more open to criticising the government and its policies. You read them in the social media and on the socio-political web-pages.

Internet Age and Smart-phones Era

I remember the IT I knew back in 1970’s and 80’s were that of punch-cards for program codes such as Basic and Cobol. We used DOS (disk operating system) to operate computing machines. Now we have apps on smart-phones.

We have information at our finger tips. In the past, we had to get to the library to source for information. Our expensive Compton encyclopaedia was discarded eventually since information on the Internet was more current.

We now get news from newsfeeds on Facebook, instagram, twitter, blogs, and on-line news providers such as Yahoo!, Straits Times, etc.

Life in fast lanes

My generation did not face the intense competition felt by the current generation. Let’s take education as an example. “A” Level grades like B, B, C could get you to the Accountancy course in the local university. During my time, about 10% of our cohort got to enter local universities. Now it is about 30% getting into a publicly funded universities. It was not crowded at the top back then.

I could afford a $25,000 car in 1983. There was no COE and GST then. Now you compete for COE.

The millennial generation has to find its footings in this competitive world for the next 50 years. My daughter is in a generation to live through the next era. I sincerely wish them well as we celebrate the Golden Jubilee this year.

Happy National Day, 9.8.2015!

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