SINGAPORE - Even as Singapore looks to mark its 50th anniversary next year, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing urged students to think further, to 2065, and consider how they can do their bit to shape the country.
But to do so, they need to be aware of developments in the outside world, he said.
Mr Chan suggested they adopt four 'A's to make sense of what they saw: be aware, analyse the issues, apply lessons from elsewhere to Singapore's context and think of alternatives for Singapore.
Singapore is heavily affected by trends happening outside it, he said at a dialogue in Woodlands with 130 youths ranging from secondary school students to undergraduates.
"Never be a frog in the well, concerned with only our own issues," he said, citing a Chinese proverb.
"Never keep our eyes off the ball of what is happening elsewhere which may impact us," he added.
Several students brought up melting polar ice caps and the Ebola pandemic in West Africa as current developments they were aware of.
Mr Chan welcomed their interest, saying these could affect Singapore if a new Arctic trade route that is opening up shifts ships away from Singapore's port, or if Ebola turns into a global pandemic.
Turning to another scenario, he said that a severe global economic crisis may cause Singaporeans to lose their jobs, which will affect whether youths can achieve their dreams and ambitions.
This is why he said it was "important to keep abreast of events elsewhere, try to pre-empt their impact on Singapore, and make sure we can ride the tide of the world and continue to succeed".
At the dialogue, titled "Our Singapore 2065", he urged students to take charge of their own future and the country's in order for Singapore to remain a success 50 years on.
Earlier, Mr Chan brisk walked with 1,300 Woodlands residents and visited two coffee shops nearby as part of his ministerial community visit to Woodlands.
He was accompanied by Sembawang GRC Members of Parliament Ellen Lee and Ong Teng Koon, and grassroots leaders.
Also present were lawyer Amrin Amin, 35 and Ms Cheng Li Hui, 38, deputy chief executive of engineering firm Hai Leck Holdings. Both have been identified as potential candidates for the next general election.