Parliament: Government will not have all answers, says Heng Swee Keat

The Government may not have all the answers as the challenges Singapore face become more complex, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on May 18.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the Government must go beyond political leaders, such as MPs, Nominated MPs and Non-Constituency MPs, to embrace and develop leadership in other sectors.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said the Government must go beyond political leaders, such as MPs, Nominated MPs and Non-Constituency MPs, to embrace and develop leadership in other sectors.ST PHOTO: YEN MENG JIN

SINGAPORE - The Government will not have all the answers as the challenges Singapore face become more complex, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday (May 18).

"We will need to harness the diverse strengths of our society, through leaders at different levels. By working together, we can achieve something greater than the sum of our parts," said Mr Heng in a speech on the final day of debate on the President's Address.

This means the Government must go beyond political leaders, such as MPs, Nominated MPs and Non-Constituency MPs, to embrace and develop leadership in other sectors - in unions and trade associations, non-government organisations and voluntary welfare organisations, he added.

Mr Heng said these leaders must be united by a sense of common purpose, galvanising these whole-of-nation efforts to take Singapore forward.

In a 30-minute speech, he said: "Unity matters. Other countries watch us. If there are divisions, these will be exploited. You see this in many parts of the world. If we stand united, we stand tall among nations."

In her address last week, President Halimah Yacob had said that the fourth generation (4G) leadership "must grow with the people they represent, embrace a diversity of views and ideas, and yet forge a clarity of purpose and unity of action". The topic of forging bonds between the 4G leadership and the people was a consistent theme throughout the week's debate.

On leadership renewal, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday that new ideas, new bonds and new connections are needed with every new generation of leaders.

In his speech, Mr Heng acknowledged the calls made by both the president and prime minister. He said the public is interested in how the fourth generation political leadership is taking shape and recognise, rightly, that this is important for Singapore's future.

Mr Heng, who chaired the Our Singapore Conversation dialogue series in 2013, highlighted his own interactions with leaders from all parts of society, describing them as "enriching and humbling".

He said: "Leadership in every part of society will define the quality of our partnerships. It is only when all parts step up, that we can best draw from diverse strengths across society to make a difference."