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The Syrian conflict, Johor reclamation projects and riots in Vietnam industrial parks were among questions tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. Separately, MPs resumed debate on the Medishield Life scheme.

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Help Singaporeans build a more caring society: MP Ellen Lee

The Government can play a bigger role to help deepen Singaporeans' ties to the country, while building a caring society, said MP for Sembawang GRC Ellen Lee.

SINGAPORE: The Government can play a bigger role to help deepen Singaporeans' ties to the country, while building a caring society, said Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC, Ms Ellen Lee.

Ms Lee, speaking in support of a motion of thanks for President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s May 16 address, said she was heartened by recent recommendations made by the Committee to Strengthen National Service (CSNS) to recognise the contributions of NSmen.

But there is more scope for ground-up initiatives to deepen the sense of belonging to Singapore, she said, adding that more resources could also be provided to promote care and concern in the community.

"We can begin with activities and programmes to emphasise kind thoughts, kind words and kind actions every day.  Membership could be as varied as possible; it could be based on age groups, common interests, life phase, alumni or adopted charitable organisation," she said.

"The key to success is consistency so such groups have to be given sufficient resources to interact regularly. The promotion of care and concern among Singaporeans should also be enlarged to include caring for the environment and animals," she added.

Ms Lee noted that youth are cynical to showing care and concern towards others, as they believe that it works against their interests.

And this view drives them to focus solely on academic qualifications. Such "dreadful pessimism" must be addressed, she said.

"Our children must be imbued with a strong sense of confidence about their future.  They must believe that their future is co-created with their friends and how good their future is depends on how much they can complement and support each other.  It is no doubt a difficult balance to strike when we subscribe to meritocracy as a society and have an entrenched belief in the value of individual diligence. But it is a balance we have to achieve, and the sooner we begin on this tough job, the better the outcome will be for all of us."

Ms Lee suggested that more attention be paid to this aspect of character development during school pastoral programmes.

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