4G leaders to hold talks to share ideas and seek views

Heng Swee Keat pledges they will consider all views from various groups with open mind

The fourth generation leadership will listen to Singaporeans "with humility and respect", and launch a series of discussions with different groups of Singaporeans to seek their views, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on May 18.

The debate on the President's Address wrapped up yesterday with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announcing that 4G ministers will launch a series of discussions with various groups in society to share their ideas and listen to Singaporeans' views on them.

Disclosing this in his speech wrapping up the week-long debate, he pledged that the younger ministers would consider all views with an open mind.

"We will partner Singaporeans each step of the way in our journey of building our future Singapore. The fourth-generation leadership will listen with humility and respect.

"We will consider all views with an open mind, and adjust our course accordingly. We will communicate the thinking behind our decisions clearly. We will bring Singaporeans together and give everyone a role to turn good ideas into concrete action."

Details on the discussion series will be given after the Government takes stock of the parliamentary debate, he added.

The need to keep their ears to the ground and foster trust between the 4G and the electorate was a theme that emerged in the debate the past five days.

About 70 MPs and ministers, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, spoke.

The House discussed issues highlighted in President Halimah Yacob's speech last week on behalf of the Government, setting out its plans for the rest of its term.

These include growing the economy, reducing inequality and leadership transition. The 4G leaders also set out their plans to deal with geopolitical shifts, technological disruptions and social schisms.

Mr Heng, the last among them to speak, sought to elaborate on how they will achieve their vision for Singapore.

Each generation of Singapore's leaders has, at critical junctures, worked to strengthen this trust, he noted as he vowed the 4G leaders are as committed to doing so.

Equally important for the Government is to bring out the best in every Singaporean, he said.

It is "the central question that should occupy each generation of leaders... 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G or 10G", he added. "Because Singaporeans are at the heart of everything this Government does."

Harnessing the strengths of people will become even more crucial as Singapore faces ever more complex challenges, Mr Heng said.

While he focused mostly on the big picture and the future, Mr Heng also assured MPs that the Government will address the issues of immediate concern to people, such as jobs and the cost of living.

"These are important. I am glad MPs are listening to and re-flecting the views and feelings of their residents.

"We hear you, we are taking action to address our people's needs and concerns, including the cost of living," he added.

Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan), who moved the motion for Parliament to thank Madam Halimah for her speech, cheered the Government's promise to better engage the people, as she summed up the debate.

She urged people to share their views in order for Singapore to achieve the "optimum outcome".

Nominated MP Azmoon Ahmad, when asked about the debate, said 4G leaders had deftly dissected the inequality issues, which many MPs had spoken about.

He was also moved by the "grand vision" in the President's Address, drafted largely by the 4G leaders, and added: "I wish to see them crystallise this vision."



A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2018, with the headline '4G leaders to hold talks to share ideas and seek views'. Subscribe