Vital to find a common shared vision for Singapore

As the fourth-generation leaders plan to listen, seek views and partner Singaporeans in shaping the future of the country, I wonder what could be the common purpose and values that will unite Singaporeans in this increasingly complex and diverse world and society (4G leaders to hold talks to share ideas and seek views; May 19).

It is absolutely important that we first clarify what kind of Singapore we want in the future, and what values Singaporeans stand for.

Without a common destination and purpose, as well as shared values, it will not be possible to unite people, as each would then pursue his own aspirations and ideals.

Unlike our earlier generations, where the common purpose and values could be summed up as survival, service and sacrifice, the highly globalised world and Singapore's success seems to have shifted most Singaporeans' purpose and values to be more like consumption, comfort and convenience.

So where does that leave us?

The challenge would be to find a common shared vision that will accommodate diversity, yet unite Singaporeans; one that Singaporeans of all levels can identify with, and want to be a part of; and, one that is different from anywhere else in the world.

Moreover, this has to be balanced with a sense of reality, especially when it comes to expectations and ideas like equality. Can equality ever be truly achieved? We need to be careful not to go down the path of "entitled equality".

It is indeed going to be a complex and challenging discussion and journey into the future - one that will definitely require great discernment and deliberation.

It will probably need us to think of ourselves as Singaporeans first, and put that above our personal needs and wants for a moment.

Quek Hong Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2018, with the headline 'Vital to find a common shared vision for S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe