SINGAPORE - Singapore's future success is only limited by the scale of its ambitions and drive, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Monday (May 14).
In a rallying cry during the debate on the President's Address, Mr Chan said that Singapore's current generation can and will together write a next chapter of the Singapore story that is meaningful, engaging and real for all citizens.
After all, he noted, the pioneer generation has achieved that with much less.
"They have overcome their share of the challenges to leave us the Singapore we have today. There is absolutely no reason why our generation, which has so much more, cannot leave behind an even better Singapore for the next generation," he said.
"We can together become Singapore unlimited. Unlimited by our geography, unlimited by our size, unlimited by our resources. We can only be limited by the scale of our ambition and drive and the scale of our ambition and drive will determine how we progress as a nation in the next 50 years," Mr Chan concluded to a resounding thumping of chairs by Parliamentarians.
In his speech, Mr Chan said to secure its place in the world, Singapore has to value-add to stay relevant, build networks and be able to compete globally in order to transcend its constraints, geographies and resources and instead turn them into opportunities.
The Republic has also come far because of trust, teamwork and an ability and the guts to develop its own systems to meet its unique needs, he added.
Its circumstances are unique as a small city-state with a multiracial society, situated in a volatile region, without a conventional hinterland and with no one else to depend on for its defence, said Mr Chan.
"And while we study other systems and adapt them where suitable, we must not copy blindly or become 'intellectually colonised'," he said.
"We must remain prepared to develop systems that work best for us. More importantly, for us to also constantly update them to meet our evolving needs."
This has been Singapore's approach on issues like housing, National Service, the Central Provident Fund, as well as the GRC system and Elected Presidency, Mr Chan noted.
Today, it is also fostering stronger collaborations by tapping different networks of expertise, he said.
For example,Singapore's efforts to renew the economy through Industry Transformation Maps - blueprints that map out how various economic sectors should upgrade themselves and their workers for the future - involve more not just government agencies but also trade associations and chambers, enterprises, the labour movement and workers.
" Rather than a 'Whole of Government' strategy, this is a 'Whole of Nation' strategy, Mr Chan said.
Beyond having good and nimble systems, Singapore must also have good people "who would sacrifice their personal and family interests for the country, especially so when the country is already successful, peaceful and prosperous", he said.
This is a never-ending challenge, he noted, adding: "But we must try."
"We need to find the strongest set of individuals - not to solve current problems alone, but to prevent future problems from arising in the first place," he said.
"This means we need diverse skillsets and perspectives, so that we can combine them as necessary and tackle challenges together, when circumstances change."
This cannot be left to chance, Mr Chan said.
The PAP Government will spare no effort to find such people, he said, adding that this applies to the political leadership team, as much the public service and business community.
"Agreeing with us is not the pre-requisite. Agreeing to put Singapore first and foremost is the pre-requisite," he said.
After finding the best individual, the task is then to mould them into the strongest team possible, Mr Chan said.
The leadership model is to have overlapping generations of leadership teams to help the next generation to do better, he added.
"This provides continuity in our interaction with others and for us to compete at the highest global level with consistency in vision and purpose," he said.
"All these leadership traits - commitment, teamwork, courage to evolve, a sense of mission, are what we will need to keep our systems special."