SINGAPORE: Singapore's fourth-generation political leaders plan to kick-start a series of discussions to engage all segments of society and will listen to the people's views on charting the future "with humility and respect”, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Friday (May 18).
In what he described as a “Whole-of-Singapore effort”, the discussions will see the 4G leaders sharing their ideas while seeking the population’s views on them.
“We will partner Singaporeans each step of the way in our journey of building our future Singapore,” said Mr Heng.
“The fourth generation leadership will listen with humility and respect. We will consider all views with an open mind, and adjust our course accordingly.
“We will communicate the thinking behind our decisions clearly. We will bring Singaporeans together and give everyone a role to turn good ideas into concrete action,” he added.
While more details will be provided after the Government has taken stock of the views shared in this week’s parliamentary debate on the President’s Address, Mr Heng said the discussions aim to engage Singaporeans at different stages of life and segments of society.
“Through our discussions, we will share our ideas and seek your views,” he said. “We will build trust and ambition for Singapore, and foster a common purpose. We will galvanise action and partnerships across society towards our common goals.”
BRING OUT BEST IN PEOPLE, BUILD CULTURE OF PARTNERSHIP AND TRUST
With his speech centred around fostering close partnerships between the Government and its people, Mr Heng mentioned two “vital parts” that would take Singapore and Singaporeans into the future.
He first talked about how the Government will continue bringing out the best in its people, which he described as “the central question that should occupy each generation of leaders”.
This is not just about helping Singaporeans to make the grade or make a living. Rather, it is about supporting Singaporeans to make a good life and to make a difference, he said.
The Government must also continue to find ways to respect, encourage and support Singaporeans to give expression to their values.
For instance, through education and philanthropic programmes, or platforms like the Global Innovation Alliance that allow people to venture out into the world, innovate and create value.
“Our goal is to spark Singaporeans’ sense of wonder and curiosity when young. We want to fire up their passion to explore and discover, and encourage them to invent and innovate throughout their lives.”
“We should move away from an overemphasis on grades,” added Mr Heng. “Build on the strengths and interests of each child, and develop each to his or her fullest potential. We must strive for multiple ladders of success, multiple peaks of excellence.”
“This will take time, but we must continue to persevere,” he said.
On building a culture of partnership and trust, Mr Heng said this is vital to “keep Singapore a special place for all of us”.
“Unity matters,” he stressed. “Other countries watch us. If there are divisions, these will be exploited … If we stand united, we stand tall among nations.”
Referring to President Halimah Yacob’s call to foster a deeper people-government partnership, Mr Heng said this partnership “must be sincere and grounded in trust, with all stakeholders playing meaningful and complementary roles”.
“Each generation of leaders has worked to strengthen the people-and-government and people-to-people partnerships, building trust between Government and the people and between all parts of our society.
“At critical junctures, we came together to chart our course for the future,” he said. “The fourth generation political leadership is committed to building this partnership, and growing the trust.”
Mr Heng noted that the public is interested in how the 4G political leadership is taking shape but to build new ideas, new bonds, and new connections, leadership must be developed in all parts of the society.
This is because as challenges become more complex, “the Government will not have all the solutions”.
There will be the need to harness the diverse strengths of the society, “through leaders at different levels”. “By working together, we can achieve something greater than the sum of our parts,” he said.
And that goes beyond political leadership, added Mr Heng, noting that this will need to be developed and embraced in every part of society from unions and trade associations, to non-government organisations and voluntary welfare organisations.
For instance, contributions from leaders in business, unions and academia have “energised and strengthened” the Committee on the Future Economy, and now the Future Economy Council.
Partnership and trust must also be extended beyond Singapore. With Singapore assuming the rotating chairmanship for ASEAN this year, Mr Heng said it will use this opportunity to work together with its neighbours and work towards a more integrated, innovative and resilient ASEAN.