Parliament: Singapore must keep creating value and share what it creates: Heng Swee Keat

Singapore must stay open, innovative and adaptive to change, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Singapore must stay open, innovative and adaptive to change, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - For every Singaporean to be able to reach their dreams, Singapore must continue "creating value", and the value created must be shared, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told Parliament on Friday (Jan 29), the fifth and last day of debate on the President's Address.

If Singapore is to survive in the new global economy, it must stay open, innovative and adaptive to change, said Mr Heng.

"We may not realise this, but we are a people with a habit of innovation, and a habit of applying innovation in every aspect of our life," he said, citing political innovations - those mentioned by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, such as group representation constituencies - and policy innovations in areas such as housing and healthcare.

Singapore will strive to be "an innovation lab for the world, where the best ideas from around the world can be realised", he said, adding that the Committee on our Future Economy which he chairs will study this in detail.

But creating value is not all that success involves, he added. "Innovation, prosperity, progress, growth - these achieve their true value when they are shared. If we want to move forward together, we must share value, in a fair and inclusive way."

Being inclusive is not necessarily about redistributing wealth, he cautioned, as wealth - if not grown - can run out. Instead, it is important to create opportunities for current and future generations.

To this end, education is key, said Mr Heng. "We must continue to share the value of education with all, so that every Singaporean, regardless of family background or starting point, is empowered to build a better life."

But besides skills, education must also build character, and encourage the young to make a difference in the lives of others, he added.

That impulse - to build an inclusive society - is something that goes beyond policies and is something that every Singaporean does in their everyday lives.

"These are the foundations of a society where people care for and lift one another up. There is a richness to our relationships, reflected in the way we lead our daily lives - as peers and equals, regardless of class, status, race, religion or age. The quality of these relationships cannot be measured by metrics like GDP."

The methods by which Singapore must progress change as circumstances change, but the goal remains the same, he concluded: "To build a Singapore where every Singaporean can reach our dreams."