Parliament: S'pore must be more open to multiple pathways to success, and on sensitive issues, say MPs

Job seekers at a job fair organised by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute at Bukit Panjang Community Centre on Aug 18, 2020. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore needs to be more open to exploring multiple pathways to success and place it at the centre of its development as a society, said several MPs in Parliament on Wednesday (Sept 2).

Mr Eric Chua (Tanjong Pagar GRC), who was among the MPs speaking during the debate on the President's Address, highlighted the importance of social mobility as a driver of hope for Singaporeans from all walks of life.

He urged that tangible changes be made to help Singaporeans "reimagine... a multi-dimensional definition of success".

He said: "It is high time we celebrate the diversity of our talents, and just think about how much more Singapore could accomplish if we could each pursue life to the fullest by mining our individual reservoirs of unique talents, instead of trying to fit square pegs into round holes."

Developing a sense of respect for blue-collar work will be a good start for Singaporeans, but respect alone is not enough, he added.

Said Mr Chua: "It takes a paradigm shift in our mindsets: that beyond the typical white-collared roles, there can be many other viable routes to success in life."

Ms Poh Li San (Sembawang GRC) focused on the importance of nurturing in Singapore's youth a strong mindset and hunger to compete globally.

She said: "To prepare them to be able to compete globally, we need to invest and build deep capabilities, not just in growth sectors, but also to solve our nation's fundamental problems like the shortage of manpower."

Singapore also needs to foster a conducive environment for creativity and innovation, as better solutions often emerge out of intersections of different disciplines, Ms Poh added.

Workers' Party MP Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC), in his speech, said there were incidents in Singapore recently that sparked discussions of religious practices.

He said it would be better if there were more open and dynamic approaches to such discussion to further strengthen understanding acceptance and tolerance among Singaporeans.

These efforts should start at the leadership level, and leaders should not be narrow-minded when there arises a need to discuss religious practices, he added.

It is also better to have a humble and open approach when discussing matters that are considered sensitive, such as religion and race, as this will enable discussions to be conducted rationally and constructively, for the better good of the community, Mr Faisal said.

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