Staying true, staying together

In this year's National Day Message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reminded us of the threats we face as a young nation moving forward into our next 50 years ("Unity key to the future, says PM Lee"; Aug 9).

PM Lee's deep concern was centred on our nation's unity, viewed as the bedrock for our past success. Our latent strength as a young nation is found in our ability to build trust and trustworthiness.

Trust is not built just through success but, more importantly, gained also through acknowledgement and positive correction of failures.

Our leaders have helped to ensure that truth is upheld and communicated in this nation.

For instance, besides celebrating the country's successes, they have, on several occasions, made courageous changes when policies needed revising. Examples include the "Two is Enough" birth control policy and the EM1-3 primary school streaming system.

Singapore will need to stay close to the youth to continue building trust and trustworthiness, to strengthen our unity. We need families where parents and children communicate regularly and share their fears and dreams as they walk a common destiny.

In the 1960s, when I was five, my father showed me how he built and operated a coffee shop (connected to a wet market) and how he creatively reused military phones bought from Sungei Road Thieves' Market to set up call-points in the market to get more orders, so that he could support our family of 13.

I shared intimately in his successes and failures and was naturally inspired to excel.

Youth and parents will need to reconnect in their daily lives in this disconnected new world.

Ng Kok Keong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Staying true, staying together'. Print Edition | Subscribe