It is all about 'building an inclusive society'

Seemingly disparate topics at National Day Rally have common purpose: Chan Chun Sing

Improving pre-school education, fighting diabetes and becoming a Smart Nation may seem disparate goals, but they have a common purpose of building an inclusive society, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing.

The three core topics of this year's National Day Rally are also about ensuring a good quality of life and creating opportunities for people, he told reporters after a dialogue yesterday.

These long-term issues are aimed at creating a more inclusive society for everyone to benefit from technological advances, and establishing a strong foundation for the next generation to remain competitive in the global economy, he added.

Mr Chan also highlighted the need to embrace technology to help local businesses expand overseas and, in doing so, create new opportunities for young Singaporeans.

About 120 people, including businessmen, clan association leaders and teachers, took part in the Mandarin dialogue at the National Library Building, organised by government feedback arm Reach and Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao.

Summing up yesterday's discussions, Mr Chan said he was encouraged by the quality and depth of feedback from participants.

He said they did not talk only about what the Government could do for them, but also how individuals could play their part.

"They also talked about what they can do and how they can form the partnership between individuals, community groups and the Government, doing it together.

"And this bodes well for the kind of spirit we want to see in Singapore, where everybody takes ownership of an issue," he said.

He cited how one participant said parents still have the responsibility to instil good values in their children and lead by example even if schools are equipped with the best hardware and teaching methods.

Pre-school teacher Clare Teo, 37, had raised this point as she felt it is important for children to learn intrinsic motivation, especially when it comes to healthy living.

She said: "Education on healthy living should start young, but not in terms of restrictions or taking away options, like, 'You can eat this but not this.'

"Rather, it should be in terms of teaching them what is right and wrong, and the importance of health and of making good decisions."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 27, 2017, with the headline 'It is all about 'building an inclusive society''. Print Edition | Subscribe