Instil the pioneers' spirit of resilience in young: Heng Swee Keat

Dr Lillian Koh, 58, and her mother, Madam Goh Sock Chin, 99, at the SG100 Foundation dinner yesterday. Madam Goh was treated for a hip fracture and pneumonia last year but she remains in high spirits and is looking forward to her 100th birthday soon.
Dr Lillian Koh, 58, and her mother, Madam Goh Sock Chin, 99, at the SG100 Foundation dinner yesterday. Madam Goh was treated for a hip fracture and pneumonia last year but she remains in high spirits and is looking forward to her 100th birthday soon.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Singapore is where it is today because of their hard work and contributions, says minister

Great-grandmother Goh Sock Chin was treated for a hip fracture and then pneumonia last year but she remains in high spirits and is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday soon.

"I'm just very contented with my life. I get to see my four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren grow. I have also seen Singapore grow," she said.

Madam Goh was one of the centenarians who watched Singapore go through war and then attain independence. She embodies the resilience that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat saw in Singapore's pioneers and hopes will continue in the younger generation.

Mr Heng praised the contributions of pioneers and centenarians last night: "Let us imbue the spirit of resilience and ruggedness in our young people. Singapore is where we are today because of the hard work and contributions of our forefathers and pioneers. Their journey was not a straight and level path, but one with many ups and downs. But our pioneers faced challenges resolutely and overcame each of them."

Singaporeans are living much longer these days so it is crucial that the country helps people reach their fullest potential, stay nimble and keep learning, Mr Heng added.

"We need to... build relevant skills throughout our lives."

He said the recent book entitled The 100-Year Life: Living And Working In An Age of Longevity talked about how living to 100 will be more widely within reach this century with medical advances.

BRING OUT THE BEST

For Singapore to keep on thriving, we must continually bring out the best in our people and encourage those who have succeeded to help others around them find success.

FINANCE MINISTER HENG SWEE KEAT, on how Singapore can keep thriving.

The book noted how the traditional three-step "study-work-retire" model will no longer be relevant with people living so long. Instead, it urged people to move towards a "multi-stage life" where re-learning and reskilling are needed at different ages.

Mr Heng added: "For Singapore to keep on thriving, we must continually bring out the best in our people and encourage those who have succeeded to help others around them find success. In this way, we build a better future for Singapore together."

He noted that initiatives such as investing more in pre-school education, getting secondary schools to offer Applied Learning Programmes and the recent announcement of subject-based banding will help bring out the best in people.

Mr Heng was speaking at the annual dinner of the SG100 Foundation held at Safra Toa Payoh, which attracted about 800 guests, celebrated centenarians and centenarian organisations - those that have been around for at least 100 years.

The foundation aims to provide a platform where people can unite in nation building and continue Singapore's legacy towards SG100. It launched National Treasures yesterday, a social and health initiative jointly created by Changi General Hospital, South East Community Development Council and Prudential Assurance Singapore to help seniors tell their stories. The foundation's coffee-table book SG53 Bold - Be Outstanding Living Your Dreams, which tell the stories of people who have contributed to Singapore, was also launched.

"We must work together to build a caring and cohesive society. The risk of a weakening of social cohesion remains very real in societies today," added Mr Heng, referring to last week's shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

 
 
 

"We must continue to grow a community of care and contribution. As pillars of our future, our youth are important agents of change. Through acts of service, they can create positive impact in the society and lead change by rallying others in the community.

"Our corporates also play a multiplier role in catalysing giving, as they can offer their expertise and resources, and mobilise their employees to embark on corporate social responsibility initiatives."

Mr Heng also gave out plaques to centenarian organisations, including schools such as Raffles Institution, St Andrew's School, St Margaret's Secondary School, Anglo-Chinese School, St Joseph's Institution and Hwa Chong Institution, and other organisations such as Eu Yan Sang International, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, Salvation Army and The Straits Times.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2019, with the headline 'Instil the pioneers' spirit of resilience in young: Heng'. Print Edition | Subscribe