Build up foundation in social science research

While we celebrate 25 years of research, let us be mindful that Singapore's ability to succeed lies largely in the quality of its human capital ("R&D push will secure Singapore's future: DPM"; last Saturday).

Many non-Singaporeans view us as a nation of people with a high level of intelligence, organisation and focus in the way we plan, build, develop and manage this tiny red dot.

Besides celebrating our technological genius, we must acknowledge that our real victories were fought and won in the area of social science.

In the past 25 years, not much funding has been allocated to the grooming of talented minds to plan and manage, and not just invent and create.

We constantly hear about the need to revive our "kampung spirit", yet we lack thorough research to inform us what a new and urbanised Singapore kampung should be like in order to recapture this nostalgic spirit.

We should also put serious research into education - especially early-childhood education - so that we can create the right learning environment to discover and develop the unique character and performance skills in each child.

With social science research, we can counter the ill effects of globalisation, which forces many of us to live in disconnected silos, despite the claims of total connectivity.

We must lay a solid foundation in social science research to develop our human capital in knowledge and wisdom, so that we can secure Singapore's future.

Ng Kok Keong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2016, with the headline 'Build up foundation in social science research'. Print Edition | Subscribe