S’pore Entrepreneur Tjin Lee Defends Viral IG Post That Paints Young S’porean Workers in a Bad Light


I’m sure no one minds lying on a bed of moss with their lover and chilling, but Ms Tjin Lee says this obsession with relaxation has become worryingly severe.

In an Instagram post on 3 July, founding and managing director of Mercury Marketing and Communciation, Ms Tjin Lee, who has 45k followers on Instagram, mused that there is a “worrying” trend of people expressing on social media that they would “rather be on holiday than in the office” or that they just want to “lie on a bed of moss with my lover and read art and poetry, and not hustle nor work hard.”

Art and poetry might be an exaggeration, but you get the gist of it.

The public relations firm founder then lamented that it is “increasingly hard to find motivated young people to work”, sharing her encounters with Singaporeans in their 20s who had asked about “work-life balance” and “flexi working options” as the first question during their job interviews.

Online community

The online community unsurprisingly did not react well to her comments, feeling as though Ms Lee wrongly equated better work-life balance with an unwillingness to work hard.

Some said that Ms Lee was “old” and “boomer”, while others suggested she should refine and update her “perspectives on hiring practices” to be aligned with the attitudes of Gen Zers and millennials who are now joining the workforce.

Facebook user Jayina Chan added, “If hard work makes you rich, all cleaners would be millionaires.”

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Others said Ms Lee was in no position to speak out about hard work, noting that she came from privileged backgrounds.

The University of Western Ontario graduate was compared with American billionaire socialite Kim Kardashian who had notoriously said that “it seems like nobody wants to work these days” in an interview with Variety magazine. Parallels were drawn with the Kardashian who was claimed to have not acknowledged her privilege from growing up in a wealthy well-connected family.

Her Response

The post, which received 1,416 likes and 227 comments, generated quite a discussion.

After receiving criticisms for her overgeneralization of youth preferring vacationing to hard work, Ms Tjin Lee said she has learnt to “see both sides” of the issue and was was “really glad we got the ball rolling” with regards to the conversation about work ethics.


Clarifying in a phone interview with TODAYonline, she said she also felt that her post had been “greatly misunderstood” to mean that she was promoting hard work at the expense of work-life balance, though she said she could have been clearer about her intentions and meaning behind the post.

She then said “if you truly believe that hard work and work-life balance are mutually exclusive, then we are in trouble, aren’t we?”

Referencing her own firm, she added that her own employees are encouraged to work from anywhere “as long as the work gets done”.

She then cited the challenges young people today might face, but then reiterated that despite all these challenges, the message of her post in valuing hard work still stands.

“What I really meant was that if you really want to live the life of your dreams, then you have to work hard, it’s actually a very simple message,” she emphasised.

At the end of the day, Ms Tjin Lee said that she does not regret making the post despite the criticisms it has gotten. The polarising comments and intense conversations generated from the posts are a step in the right direction, she said.

“Clearly there is a great divide, and it is good that we are having this conversation and it is good that we see both sides,” she said.

“I am always open to learning and hearing… it’s a two-way conversation and I’m just really glad we got the ball rolling.”

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Featured Image: Instagram (tjinlee)