Wider society to be tapped amid more complex challenges

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.
A participant speaking at an Our Singapore Conversation session in July 2013. Among those present were Mr Heng (left, seated). The minister said yesterday that he met many people during these sessions who cared deeply about issues and took proactive
FINANCE MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT.PHOTO: GOV.SG/YOUTUBE

Govt will have to harness diverse strengths of people, says Heng Swee Keat

As the challenges that Singapore faces become more complex, the Government will not have all the answers, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat. Instead, it will have to harness "the diverse strengths of our society".

"By working together, we can achieve something greater than the sum of our parts," he said in Parliament yesterday.

This means that the Government must go beyond political leaders to "develop and embrace leadership in every sector" - from unions and trade associations to non-governmental organisations and voluntary welfare groups.

These leaders must be united by a sense of common purpose to take Singapore forward, he added.

Mr Heng cited existing examples of such leadership.

For instance, during the Our Singapore Conversation dialogue series he led in 2013, he met many who cared deeply about an issue or a group of people, and took proactive steps to make things better.

"This is leadership," he said.

More than that, they appre-ciated different viewpoints, engaged in honest dialogue and worked with others.

"This is partnership," he said.

A participant speaking at an Our Singapore Conversation session in July 2013. Among those present were Mr Heng (left, seated). The minister said yesterday that he met many people during these sessions who cared deeply about issues and took proactive
A participant speaking at an Our Singapore Conversation session in July 2013. Among those present were Mr Heng (left, seated). The minister said yesterday that he met many people during these sessions who cared deeply about issues and took proactive steps to make things better. BERITA HARIAN FILE

COMMON PURPOSE

By working together, we can achieve something greater than the sum of our parts.

FINANCE MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT, on the need for the Government to go beyond political leaders to develop and embrace leadership in every sector.

Another example is the Community Networks for Seniors - where government agencies, voluntary welfare organisations and community groups work together to help the elderly stay healthy.

"It will be a big step forward in building a caring society," said Mr Heng. "It will be a big step too in building our Singapore culture of partnership and trust."

The Government will seek to nurture more such leadership and partnerships across society, said the minister.

This, said Mr Heng, is critical for building new ideas, bonds and connections between the fourth-generation (4G) leadership and the public.

Acknowledging the public interest in the leadership transition, he added: "The public is interested in how the fourth-generation political leadership is taking shape. They recognise, rightly, that this is important for our future."

In her address last week, President Halimah Yacob had said the 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 this 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. "The fourth-generation political leadership is committed to building this partnership and growing the trust."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2018, with the headline 'Wider society to be tapped amid more complex challenges'. Print Edition | Subscribe