Letter to fourth PM goes viral

NUS undergraduate's forum speech on the sentiments of Singapore youth goes viral

He read out his letter in a speech he gave to a forum of about 270 attendees and undergraduate Tan Yang Long never expected it to go viral.

After reading out the letter, which he had penned to Singapore's "4th Prime Minister" at the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Tembusu Forum last Tuesday, Mr Tan, 23, a sociology student at NUS and student resident at Tembusu College, uploaded it on Facebook.

It has amassed more than 1,300 likes and 460 shares since.

Mr Tan told The New Paper: "I was not expecting it to go viral, my goal for the speech was to represent my college cohort well, and translate that into a speech that would do justice to their thoughts and voices."

He spent about a month speaking to peers, conducting a survey and focus-group discussions before writing the letter that he presented, in line with the forum's title of Singapore's Fourth Prime Minister: Aspirations and Expectations. (See excerpts on right.)

In his letter, Mr Tan summarised the sentiments of youth groups he spoke to - calling for more trust in young people, expressing concerns over social inequality and identity, and making the case for more to be done for social mobility.

He also asked the future PM to be clear about how he plans to unite Singapore, and what Singapore means to him.

The letter was well-received by the forum's other speakers like political observer Eugene Tan, Nominated Member of Parliament Kuik Shiao-Yin and Ambassador-at-large and Tembusu College rector, Professor Tommy Koh, who called Mr Tan's speech the best of the evening.

Netizens, however, were divided. Some called it too idealistic, while others praised Mr Tan and the Tembusu students.

One netizen, Mr Yat Ho, hoped that Singapore would change for the better through the letter.

He commented: "You guys are amazing, persuading with love and not anger."

However, others, like Mr Vincent Chin, told the students to "keep dreaming".

Echoing his sentiment was Mr Cory Tan, who urged the students to do more on their part to make change happen.

The letter might have more notable readers soon.

During the forum, Ms Kuik said she would personally hand the speech to some MPs when Parliament sits if Mr Tan could print out copies for her, to which the forum thundered with applause.

Mr Tan told TNP that he was considering taking up the offer. "It's still undecided, but my school and I are talking about this," he said.

Singapore Politics