New challenges in shift to aspirational economy: ESM Goh

(From left) Professor Julian Wright, head of the economics department at NUS; Mr Daniel Lo, president of NUS Economics Alumni; NUS Pro-chancellor Ngiam Tong Dow and his brother Mr Ngiam Tong Yuen; Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong; Mr Ho Kwon Pi
(From left) Professor Julian Wright, head of the economics department at NUS; Mr Daniel Lo, president of NUS Economics Alumni; NUS Pro-chancellor Ngiam Tong Dow and his brother Mr Ngiam Tong Yuen; Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong; Mr Ho Kwon Ping, alumnus of NUS Economics Department; Dr Lee Soo Ann, senior fellow at NUS Economics Department; Professor Brenda Yeoh, Dean of NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Professor Andrew Wee, NUS vice-president (university & global relations). -- PHOTO: NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - As Singapore runs up against new social challenges, it will need more local social science researchers to understand the country's situation, conduct applied research, and offer possible policy solutions, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Friday.

Speaking at a gala dinner to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) economics department, Mr Goh said the social sciences will help the country look beyond Gross Domestic Product and boost the holistic well-being of individuals and community.

Mr Goh told about 300 academics, alumni, and students that there is a shift towards an "aspirational economy" - one that supports intangible goals such as family relationships, work-life balance, health, a sense of community and a network of friends.

"An aspirational economy assures us of our basic needs and material comforts and at the same time, continuously generates growth and opportunities which enable us to pursue our higher-order aspirations," he said.

Social science research can make an impact by helping Singapore's remain competitive, while pursuing compassionate policies.

At the event at NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House on Friday, Mr Goh also launched a student-led economics mentorship programme, a collaboration between the NUS Economics Alumni and NUS Economics Society. Current economics students can learn from and be mentored by graduates of the course.

Mr Tan Tai Kiat, an economics department alumnus who started the programme, said: "Looking back on my student days, I think I would have appreciated such guidance."

Second-year economics student Pius Tan, 22, landed an internship at an oil and gas company last year through people he met from the scheme. "It allows us to build up a professional network," he said.