Issue of unwed couples having children brought up at discussion
The subject was unwed couples having children, and it drew conflicting views from Singaporeans at a studio discussion with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday.
A single mother wanted to have more children but did not want to get married. A father of three felt couples must marry before they have children. In a poll among the 50 studio guests, just over half thought unmarried couples should not have children.
But Mr Lee made it clear that he did not think society was ready for change on this issue.
He also discussed topics from pre-school education to attitude towards foreigners during the forum, billed as part of the National Conversation on Singapore's future. Participants ranged from university students and unionists, to managers and chief executives. Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and MPs Indranee Rajah and Intan Azura Mokhtar also took part.
SENSE OF GRATITUDE
You're talking about meritocracy, I think that's important. We shouldn't give it up. But it must be complemented with a sense of sacrifice, community service, responsibility to the others who have helped you to succeed. Then Singapore will succeed.
- Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Singaporeans' values
BE PROUD, YET HUMBLE
We have to be decent human beings because, otherwise, it's not just foreigners who think the less of us. When we look in the mirror, we ask what sort of people are we? I think that's very bad. We have good reason to be proud of ourselves, but also be humble in the world. The world is a big place. Singapore is not doing badly, but there is a lot for us to learn. And if we have that attitude, then I think we can maintain a balance and we won't get big-headed, and that's most important.
- Mr Lee on values, and attitudes towards foreigners
PARENTS HAVE KEY ROLE
There was a long queue at the ladies' toilet and one lady brought a Primary 3 girl into the cubicle. The girl said: 'No, my teacher taught us we must queue up.' The mother said: 'No, you are urgent, just go in.' The girl said: 'No, no, no. Our teacher said we must queue up.' The mother said: 'You either do it or I'm going to slap you'.
- Education Minister Heng Swee Keat told this story, related to him by one mother, to illustrate the difficulty of teaching values, unless parents believe in them and are role models
KEEP ON MOVING
We never arrive, you see. Always on a journey. If you have arrived, you fall off the bicycle. We have to keep on moving and aiming for something which is in front of you, which is worthwhile.
- Mr Lee on getting together to define what Singapore needs to aim for in the next 20 to 30 years