Call for society that caters to both young and old

NTU engineering students (from left) Rahul Immandira, Abilash Subbaraman and Heetesh Alwani, makers of Binjai Brew. The beer quickly took off but their microbrewery was shut down as it is illegal to brew alcohol on campus. Senior Minister of State Ch
NTU engineering students (from left) Rahul Immandira, Abilash Subbaraman and Heetesh Alwani, makers of Binjai Brew. The beer quickly took off but their microbrewery was shut down as it is illegal to brew alcohol on campus. Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat said he has taken a personal interest in helping Binjai Brew grow its business legally.ST FILE PHOTO

Youth aspirations, elder-friendly transport the focus of 4G leaders

The three students who started a microbrewery in their university residence hall - but were stopped - have a risk-taking, enterprising spirit that society should support.

Making this point, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat said he has taken a personal interest in helping Binjai Brew grow its business legally.

Mr Chee was one of three senior ministers of state from the fourth generation of leaders who yesterday spoke in Parliament about the steps they felt Singapore should take to become a society that meets the needs and aspirations of its people. The others were Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary and Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman.

Mr Chee recently met Binjai Brew founders Rahul Immandira, Heetesh Alwani and Abilash Subbaraman to discuss how to reduce red tape for start-ups like theirs.

"I have tried their beer; it is very good," he said.

Their microbrewery began at their hostel in Nanyang Technological University but was shut down as it is illegal to brew alcohol on campus. Mr Chee said he and a Pro-Enterprise Panel made up of civil servants and business leaders have offered their help.

They had a good discussion on how the licensing regime could be reviewed to lower the barriers of entry for microbrewers to test out new products in an initial trial period, before more rigorous rules kick in when they scale up production and sales, he said.

"My colleagues and I are looking into this suggestion, and we will discuss with the regulatory agencies... We will give it a shot."

Speaking more generally, Mr Chee said cutting red tape, listening to feedback from businesses and allowing experimentation are key to keeping Singapore pro-business. Doing these will drive economic growth and create good jobs as the economy matures. Developing local talent while attracting foreign talent is also critical for Singapore, he said.

Dr Maliki, meanwhile, said the young today have different aspirations, encapsulated in phrases like "Yolo" ("You Only Live Once") and "Fomo" ("Fear Of Missing Out").

The journey matters more to them than the destination and they do not want to miss out on exciting experiences, he noted.

Home ownership and stable employment might hence not keep them anchored, as they seek to "revisit the social compact, where the Government had a monopoly on masterplanning the public good".

They do not want to miss out on having a say in policies, he added.

To forge this new compact, the Government also stands ready to "revisit the current balance between meritocracy and compassion", he said, as this will help build a sense of common destiny and win the confidence of the young.

Dr Janil said Singapore's long-term transport needs will require forward planning. He called for a transport system that caters to the diverse needs of all commuters - especially one that is elder-friendly and allows seniors to commute independently, he said, adding that this will have an impact on resource allocation. "How do we do this in a way that is fair to Singaporeans?"

The Government will also build connectivity to regional centres like Jurong, Punggol and Woodlands, to bring jobs and daily activities closer to home, he added. To do this, "we may have to invest ahead of demand for our transport connectivity".

This will have an impact on the Transport Ministry's overall plan and priorities, he noted. "We need to have that conversation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2018, with the headline 'Call for society that caters to both young and old'. Print Edition | Subscribe