Monday 24 November 2014

Base S'pore identity on common future: Chan Chun Sing

By Samantha Boh, The Sunday Times, 23 Nov 2014

Identity is not just about the past but our "common future", Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing told a youth forum yesterday.

He said a Singaporean identity is difficult to define based on a shared past as many in the population have different roots, grew up in different environments and speak different languages.

Instead, the Singaporean identity should be based on a common future which the Republic can move towards with a shared perspective.

"While we look at the past to find a source of strength for our values, we must not let our past be a source of division," he said.

"Instead, we should let the future be a unifying force for us."

Mr Chan was addressing 300 local and foreign tertiary students at the Institute of Technical Education College East on embracing diversity.

The event was organised by the National Youth Achievement Award Gold Award Holders' Alumni (GAHA).

Some students raised concerns about competition from foreigners in the job market, while others asked about their assimilation into society.

Mr Chan explained that there is a need for foreign transient workers for jobs which cannot be filled by Singaporeans as well as for those in new industries where there is still a lack of local talent.

But he said the Government has tightened the labour demand in certain sectors to ensure that companies do not become reliant on "quantitative labour inputs but qualitative labour inputs".

"Over time, we hope to progressively replace the dependence on foreign transient workers (in the newer industries) with our local people," he said.

Mr Chan also said it is a way of life for cities to have populations consisting of people from many different races as they compete for the best talent.

But instead of viewing it negatively, he urged Singaporeans to embrace the opportunity to learn from foreigners.

He added: "They can share different perspectives and provide new ideas. The interplay of those ideas with our ideas will help Singapore stand out as a global city."

Seize opportunities, but remember to give back to society: Chan Chun Sing
Channel NewsAsia, 22 Nov 2014

Singaporeans need to seize opportunities, but also remember to give back to the society and help the less-privileged.

Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said only then can the nation truly be what he called, a "Singaporean Tribe" - or the Singapore Family.

Mr Chan made this point at the National Youth Integration Forum on Saturday morning (Nov 22), organised by the National Youth Achievement Award Council.

Mr Chan said: "Even if the chips are down and opportunities are not there, these are the true Singaporeans who will stay here and say, I will rebuild this country even when the chips are down to provide a better life for my fellow Singaporeans.

"If we arrive at that stage, then we would have truly become the Singaporean Tribe. Otherwise, we are just economic sojourners and happen to be in Singapore at this time of the year, and when opportunities move, we move," he added.

Mr Chan noted that these economic sojourners would reap benefits from societies but do not contribute in return. "Is that wrong? Some people would tell me that I am an economic creature, I go to wherever gives me opportunities and I take as much as I can," said Mr Chan.

"But wouldn't that be a selfish attitude? If all of us take that attitude, would we have a Singapore? Singapore is only able to be at where we are today because those who have succeeded, those who are more accomplished, have a sense of contribution, a sense to want to give back something to the society, to help those who may be less privileged than some of us," Mr Chan added.

Mr Chan spoke to some 300 Singaporeans, permanent residents and new citizens at the session held at the ITE College East. Participants also shared ideas on how to better integrate the community and make Singapore a better place to live in.

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