Tuesday 9 July 2013

PM Lee urges the young to make Singapore better

They have job edge over their peers elsewhere, and should step forward
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 8 Jul 2013

WHEN it comes to securing jobs, Singapore's young are in a more fortunate position than those in other countries, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

This position of strength should be used to bring Singapore to greater heights, he added at a community event in his Teck Ghee ward.

Opportunities abound here for the young, he noted, in contrast to Europe where youth unemployment averages 25 per cent and has even breached 50 per cent in Spain.

Sketching out the predicament facing the millions in this group of people called "NEET", which stands for Not in Education, Employment or Training", Mr Lee said: "After graduation, for 10 years they cannot find work. They cannot start their families."

The situation scars them for life as it affects their employability and confidence, and makes them restless and desiring of change, he said.

Ahead of Singapore's 48th birthday bash next month, Mr Lee told his audience of young people that the challenge is to make tomorrow's Singapore even better, and "seeing where we are today not as the summit of where we can be, but as a new base from which to scale greater heights".

He said he was heartened to see young people already taking the lead to build a better Singapore, and hopes many more step forward.

Mr Lee, who is also People's Association (PA) chairman, was at the launch of a two-month-long National Day campaign by the PA Youth Movement (PAYM).

Over this month and next, some 6,000 members of the youth wing will take part in more than 100 activities to express their national pride under the "PAYM Loves Red" initiative.

During his speech, Mr Lee also urged young Singaporeans to see success not according to individual achievements, but in collective terms.

Improving Singapore will involve the Government playing a bigger role to help the less fortunate and strengthening the social safety net.

But the successful must also do their part to give back, said Mr Lee, "because they have benefited from the system".

"All of us joining hands to improve our lives together, that is the meaning of the red in our Singapore flag," he said. "Universal brotherhood and equality of man."

His remarks on giving back continue a theme he has touched on in recent months.

Last month, for instance, he urged Singaporeans to do more to help fellow citizens.

Participants at the PA event agreed that they were in a better position than young people elsewhere.

"My sister went to the United States and said that she saw people queueing up to apply for jobs. We would never have to do that here," said 16-year-old Kimi Soh, a student at Nan Chiau High School.

But some remained worried about whether their aspirations in the workplace would be met.

Said Benjamin Choy, 16, a business student at ITE College Central: "Besides 'foreign talent', employers may also pick university and polytechnic students before us."

Youth campaign to show patriotism ahead of Aug 9
By Rachel Chang, The Straits Times, 8 Jul 2013

FROM singing national songs at kopitiams to taking pictures of iconic Singapore places where they want to be, the young people of the People's Association (PA) have come up with novel ways to show their patriotism this National Day.

Over 6,000 of them have come up with 102 activities to show their love and loyalty, as part of a two-month campaign by the PA's Youth Movement (PAYM) in the lead-up to National Day.

The initiative, known as "PAYM Loves Red" and launched yesterday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, goes beyond celebrating National Day, said PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng.

"It is a ground-up initiative where youths connect with fellow youths, express their passion and convey their appreciation and aspirations for Singapore in their own creative and unique ways."

Many of the activities - like a bread run for the needy organised by students from the Singapore Management University - have a community outreach bent, which shows their desire to "make a meaningful impact", said Mr Ang.

Others are more whimsical, like a "book spine poetry" competition by the Serangoon Youth Executive Committee.

Participants are to stack book spines together for their titles to make up a poem, with at least one book by a Singaporean author to be included.

Yesterday, PM Lee toured contributions by the PA youth in his Teck Ghee ward: a photo exhibition showcasing the faces of the neighbourhood - from "Teck Ghee's Oldest Man", a 104-year-old resident, to "Basketball Ah Ma", an elderly woman who shoots the hoops at the local basketball court.

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