Wednesday 7 August 2013

Help improve things if not happy with country: Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

By Toh Yong Chuan, The Straits Times, 6 Aug 2013

SINGAPOREANS who are not happy with the country should try to improve things instead of running down the country, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday.

"Singapore is not perfect, no society is perfect," he noted.

"There may be things we are unhappy about, things can always be better, but that is very different from running down our own people, our own society."

He pointed to two letters from Singaporeans that were published online last week on Yahoo News. He did not name their writers.

A check online, however, shows the letters were written by operations manager Brian Vittachi, 56, and public relations consultant Wang Su Lin, 40. Mr Vittachi had asked his sister not to return to Singapore from Sri Lanka. "Singapore has sold its soul," he wrote, while Sri Lanka has natural beauty, culture and character.

Ms Wang said she is not ashamed of being gay but ashamed of being a Singaporean. She has emigrated to Canada which she felt was more welcoming and tolerant.

Mr Tan said he wished them well but hoped the duo would also "find it in themselves to contribute and help build Singapore".

The minister, who praised volunteers and public servants who work to improve the lives of Singaporeans, was speaking at his ministry's National Day Observance ceremony.

In his speech, Mr Tan also reiterated that the pace of restructuring to reduce Singapore's reliance on foreign labour will not be slowed. But he pledged the Government will continue to help affected workers.

Companies can do their part as well by hiring more older workers and women, he said.

An officer at the event, who asked not to be named as she was not authorised to speak to the media, said: "It is not just the country, but policies are also not perfect, but what is important is that we identify what is wrong and fix them, instead of just complaining."

Nation not perfect, but have faith in it

AS A 15-year-old living in Singapore in this age of flux, where we are the children born amid rapid modernisation as a result of our grandparents' and parents' toil, I find my generation in a unique situation.

As Singapore's 48th birthday drew near, I was surprised by the indifference among some young people towards this date.

We should let this National Day be a timely reminder of everything that our forefathers sacrificed during the bloody struggle for the independence and freedom we enjoy today. It is often forgotten that before the efficiency and prosperity we have now, we faced riots and challenges.

Singapore is not perfect and there may be flaws, but it is imperative that we do not forget we are building this country together, and if we do not fight to protect and build it, no one else will.

It is precisely because Singapore is not perfect that my generation must remain here, working to further improve it.

While patriotism in and of itself may seem a lofty idea, this love for, as well as faith in, Singapore is what has propelled us from Third World to First World status.

We are all still learning, so have a little faith in our country.

As Mr Lee Kuan Yew said in 1967: "There is tranquillity, poise and confidence in Singapore. And it is a confidence born out of the knowledge that there are very few problems which we cannot overcome."

Let us not be the generation that forgets that.

Cheang Ko Lyn
ST Forum, 9 Aug 2013


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