Sound values key to brighter future for S'pore

PHOTO: ST FILE

Professor Tommy Koh has touched my heart deeply with his endearing letter to his grandchildren, urging them to uphold values that have shaped our nation since independence ("Letter to my grandchildren in 2065"; last Monday).

The values he has cited are at the core of our survival and progress and deserve to be disseminated among today's youth.

Our experience in Singapore has shown that tried-and-tested values like kindness, gracious behaviour, thrift, hard work and putting family, community and society above self have worked in unison with national values like meritocracy, pragmatism, sound economic policies, multiracialism and multiculturalism. All these values have contributed to good and clean governance while giving us one of the highest standards of living in the world.

While in the years to come we may give more attention to our rights and liberties, we must not forget that there are duties and responsibilities expected of us.

At the same time, we should embrace the simple fact that we are dependent upon and accountable to one another, now that the world is getting more globalised.

We should, therefore, open up to a new understanding of ourselves and the world.

We should not only tolerate but also appreciate and celebrate the social, cultural and religious beliefs of other community groups to create greater cohesiveness and harmony.

We should also not give undue importance to material obsessions and desires to the exclusion of life-sustaining values, as when money overpowers morals, family values and human civility, it becomes a curse.

As a nation of so many races, cultures and creeds, we are in this together, so let us work together for a brighter future that we hope to enjoy 50 years hence.

The road to this future begins at home and in the classroom because these are the core arenas where citizenship can be planted, nurtured and cultivated.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Sound values key to brighter future for S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe