Sunday 19 August 2012

Decisions today will shape tomorrow: Heng

Education Minister explains need to start thinking about the future
By Robin Chan, The Straits Times, 18 Aug 2012

IN THE nine days since Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said a team of younger ministers would engage Singaporeans in a national conversation on the future, some have already started asking why this is being done now, when there are still current problems to be solved.

Yesterday, the man tasked to helm this committee sought to address their concerns.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat has yet to reveal the name and members of his team, but has made clear his aim to get Singaporeans talking about what kind of nation they want in 20 years.

"Some have... asked me why we are talking about the future, when there are present problems to tackle, such as the rising cost of living and the influx of foreigners. Should we not be devoting our time to address this?" he noted at Ai Tong School's 100th anniversary dinner.

These concerns are real and the Government is looking into them, he said. But he laid out three reasons why it is also important to think about the future.

First, the shape of Singapore's future matters to all. So there is a need to prepare children and ensure there are opportunities for them to fulfil their aspirations.

Second, Singapore needs to adapt to global trends, from the development of emerging economies to science and technology breakthroughs, while its own economy and society mature.

And third, finding out the aspirations and shared values from the conversation will inspire the country and shape its decisions.

Said Mr Heng: "Many decisions that we take today will shape the Singapore of tomorrow. We need to tackle immediate issues as well as plant the seeds of our future success."

At another community event, he also urged Singaporeans to think about the future they hoped to see. "I hope all our students and all Singaporeans will take part in this exercise of imagining our future, because if we can imagine it, we can work towards it."

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