Singaporeans urged to build even stronger foundation for future

Published: 05.06.2018 Related countries:  Singapore Singapore

Singapore unlimited vision and calls for 'pioneers of our generation' to act

The pioneer generation had few resources to work with but managed to build a successful Singapore for the current generation.

Today's Singaporeans must carry on the work by being "pioneers of our generation" who will leave behind a yet stronger foundation - whether in the building of innovative companies, the upgrading of flats or ensuring everyone can achieve their potential, said Mr Chan Chun Sing. "We need to keep up our vitality and verve," he said.

The new Trade and Industry Minister made this call in his speech on the first day of debate yesterday on the President's Address, as he painted a vision of "Singapore Unlimited" - a Republic unlimited by its geography, size or resources.

He was the first minister and among 15 MPs - mainly from the fourth-generation team - who responded to President Halimah Yacob's speech on May 7 when she urged the younger leaders to make bold changes for a different future.

Yesterday's speeches gave some indication of how Singapore's younger politicians are interpreting this call.

Their suggestions for a better Singapore revolve largely around addressing widening inequality, ensuring workers can still have good jobs even as technology changes the nature of work, and maintaining social cohesion in the face of divisive forces.

 

Perhaps fittingly, the debates kicked off with a speech by Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan), a first-term MP, who called for a motion to thank Madam Halimah for her address, before proposing her own ideas. These range from allowing private developers to top up the leases of Housing Board flats to letting women use unclaimed medical leave to care for seniors.

Across the bench, another young leader, Workers' Party secretary-general Pritam Singh, made his first parliamentary speech as party chief yesterday.

For him, boldness means having political leaders who are more open to alternative views and take pains to explain their decisions, especially when these affect Singaporeans' cost of living.

He also said the call for boldness should be heeded not just by the 4G leadership. Instead, it is an opportunity for "each Singaporean to question what we can do to make Singapore a better home for all of us".

On a day when younger parliamentarians dominated the show, a veteran politician was singled out for his contributions.

In a rare accolade, Mr Chan placed on record the Government's appreciation for Mr Singh's predecessor Low Thia Khiang, who last month stepped down as secretary-general of the party after 17 years.

"Although Mr Low may have different perspectives, but from his speeches, we can detect his pride in Singapore and his determination to defend our sovereignty," he said.

In his speech, Mr Chan also said the Government has a role in maintaining social cohesion and trust, adding that Singaporeans' aspirations and expectations have evolved. "They want to be heard, considered and respected. So, we have to keep various channels open for them to share their views and work on strengthening engagement."

As a society matures, he noted, it usually becomes more conservative - choosing to uphold existing systems rather than break new ground. "To be 'pioneers of our generation', we must be clear-eyed about our challenges."

These issues will be tackled by fellow 4G leaders in the days ahead, he said. For example, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung will speak on social mobility, while Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah will talk about forging a national identity.

Mr Chan concluded: "We can only be limited by the scale of our ambition and drive, and the scale of our ambition and drive will determine how we progress as a nation in the next 50 years."