Time for a technology minister to organise engineering fraternity

There has been a renewed call for the Government, businesses and people to seize the opportunities new technology creates (More can be done to capitalise on new tech: PM; Feb 27).

Implicit in this call is the need for engineers to drive ideas, productivity and breakthroughs within the nation's manpower and space constraints.

Engineers are important assets to a nation. They have the skills and abilities required in nation building. Their work also impacts the nation's socio-economic well-being.

However, over the years, the critical role engineers play seems to have taken a back seat. Today, we have problems maintaining even our public train system, and regular breakdowns are an accepted norm.

None of the Committee on the Future Economy's seven strategies suggested that we should get our engineering fraternity better organised to power the economy forward (7 strategies to take economy forward; Feb 10).

I propose that we have a Chief Technology Minister (CTM) in the Cabinet, just like the law fraternity has access to a law minister.

The CTM will work with a new "Technology Society" to maintain and improve the standard of the engineering profession, as well as assist the Government and the public in all matters ancillary to technology.

Every Singapore engineer who has a practising certificate is automatically a member of the Technology Society. A council consisting of statutory and elected members will manage the affairs of the society.

Only such a measure will help put an end to the lacklustre image of the engineering profession today.

Liu Fook Thim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'Time for a technology minister to organise engineering fraternity'. Print Edition | Subscribe