Archive for December 20th, 2011



Gen Y




Baby Boomers




WITH the current focus on youth, change and transformation, it’s hard for the older generation not to feel they are being sidelined and their expiry date expedited. Every day there are announcements of programmes to attract the Gen X, Gen Y and millenium babies, but hardly any for the Baby Boomers, the septuagenarians and octogenarians before them. It is as though the latter are becoming the forgotten generation – obsolete!

No doubt investment in the youth of today is good business sense as they have the potential to be the most resourceful human capital. The government’s transformation plans to position the country as a globally competitive and technologically advanced nation alongside regional and international giants require the expert education and training of Malaysian youth to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Besides, it makes good political sense to garner the support of young voters by taking care of their interests with concrete schemes to ensure their hopes and dreams come true. The nation’s youth have to be wooed to give them a sense of belonging and nationhood through which it is hoped they will quickly see the wood for the trees, and pick out the gems from among the pebbles in the political arena.

Research shows that while Gen Y, alternatively called the Gen Me and New Boomers born between 1982-2001, are more civic-minded, confident, tolerant, demonstrate a good team-working spirit and entrepreneurial skills, they are said to be imbued with a selfish sense of entitlement, a rejection of social conventions and increasing narcissism. Made culturally liberal and politically aware by the quick and constant flow of communication via email, texting and social networking, they are indeed a fertile catchment area for new information and propaganda especially on the internet.

It is doubtful, however, if the barrage of incentives and promises showered on them at workshops and seminars is a substitute for a nurturing family and community life. It is unlikely that they can replace the sound values and principles handed down by caring elders who have experienced life’s vicissitudes and know better.

While technologically savvy modes of communication such as Facebook and Twitter offer the virtual space for outbursts of brilliance, they cannot replace the face to face engagement with peers, superiors, colleagues and associates where mental prowess and creative genius would have to be sustained in a steady stream of discussion, dialogue and discourse across and around real tables.

A truly innovative national scheme to implement would be the injection of new life into the Baby Boomers. Their expertise and experience should be recycled into a productive synergy with the energy and enthusiasm of the New Boomers. There can be specific programmes to mobilise the country’s senior citizens who want to contribute in relevant ways to society.

Many do it privately in their own time and at their own pace. The civic-minded take up the cause of a charity or an NGO while the religious involve themselves in mosque, church and temple activities. Some reaffirm their loyalty to their alma mater by contributing to alumni and foundation work, others focus on their family legacy and heritage.

There is a sizeable group, however, who seem to be stuck in a time warp. They are disgruntled and feel that their past contributions to the nation and the government have not been duly recognised. They are no doubt grateful for the pensions and gratuities received but feel they are a neglected lot. It is for a caring society to boost the self-esteem and confidence of its ageing population by involving them in meaningful activities.

I remember feeling insecure about my impending retirement and making a conscious effort to plan for it. Having worked the whole of my life, I could not conceive of a time when I had all the time to myself. What would I do apart from socialising at weddings and family gatherings, birthdays and funerals in-between attending the inevitable agama classes to prepare myself for the after-life?

In middle age especially, the feel-good factor comes from knowing that you are still productive – if not biologically, at least mentally. Senior citizens need to be involved in activities where the results of their efforts are visible and tangible. This will give them a deep sense of personal satisfaction as they feel they can still be useful and their contributions acknowledged without having to crawl around to family and friends.

Besides, their political prowess should never be underestimated. Baby Boomers have seen the nation through the more than half a century of growth and development which Gen Y and Gen Me have no idea of. They have seen the blood, sweat and tears of their forefathers and can distinguish between leaders and their brand of leadership. But a good many have become disillusioned.

December 2011