SINGAPORE: The details of how the fourth-generation (4G) team of political leaders will engage Singaporeans will hopefully be provided “in the coming months”, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said in an interview with CNA and The Straits Times.
This effort, Mr Heng said, is to better understand citizens’ concerns and aspirations, particularly for different segments of the population as Singapore’s society becomes more diverse.
“It is important for us to understand this diversity better and for us to mobilise the different groups and to look at what we can do together,” the 57-year-old said.
“And it is important for us to ensure that that diversity is a strength and does not become divisive.”
He added that this “very important piece of work” is something he hopes to carry forward in the coming months and years.
Building a new compact between the 4G leaders and younger Singaporeans was something highlighted by analysts last year, particularly in the engagement with the generation that has grown up in the country’s post-independence society.
Mr Heng also reiterated this in Parliament, saying the 4G leaders plan to have 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.
BUILDING LEADERS IN SOCIETY
Beyond consultation, however, Mr Heng is also keen to build on a “growing strength” he has identified - Singaporeans.
“Singaporeans are much better educated, many of them are holding a range of very interesting jobs, many of them are also venturing out overseas,” he pointed out.
He recounted how during his recent trips to overseas, he had met many Singaporeans who are successful and thriving. In Silicon Valley, for example, there were a group of Singaporeans doing very complex technology work in the biggest US companies, working as venture capitalists or in the financial sector.
“What I am very cheered (by) is that everyone whom I have met wants to come back to Singapore someday, wants to do something for Singapore,” he said.
“So when you look at the partnership that we have been having, it is something that has worked very well for Singapore, because now you have Singaporeans who are far better educated, far more exposed to the complexities of the world and are highly regarded everywhere.”
READ: 4G leaders to engage Singaporeans in series of discussions to chart future together, says Heng Swee Keat
READ: 4G leaders need to build new compact with younger Singaporeans, say analysts
In the local context, Mr Heng wants to try and build leaders in all parts of society, enabling them to do what they feel passionate about.
In particular, he is looking to those "who are willing and able" and ensuring that they can say: “Well, look, there is this particular issue that I care about greatly and I will like to do my part to build this, either to resolve this problem or tackle this opportunity”.
Mr Heng noted that this was already happening in the business chambers, voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) and charities, and the challenge now is to build on these efforts.
The full interview with DPM Heng Swee Keat will be broadcast tonight (Sunday, May 5) at 8.30pm on CNA.