Singapore must build on legacy of founding fathers for better future, says Khaw

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan thanking pioneer builders on Thursday, Aug 6, 2015.
National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan thanking pioneer builders on Thursday, Aug 6, 2015. ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO
Former construction worker Toh Keng Kee displaying his old documents from back in the day.
Former construction worker Toh Keng Kee displaying his old documents from back in the day.ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO
Mr Khaw with former samsui woman Wong Ah Woon, 88.
Mr Khaw with former samsui woman Wong Ah Woon, 88.ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO
Madam Ng Moey Chye, 83, puts on her old samsui outfit. The former samsui woman was one of the 17 pioneer builders honoured at MND's national day observance ceremony on Thursday.
Madam Ng Moey Chye, 83, puts on her old samsui outfit. The former samsui woman was one of the 17 pioneer builders honoured at MND's national day observance ceremony on Thursday. ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO
Driver Toh Keng Kee, 73, holding up his old union membership card. The former construction worker was one of the 17 pioneer builders honoured at MND's national day observance ceremony on Thursday.
Driver Toh Keng Kee, 73, holding up his old union membership card. The former construction worker was one of the 17 pioneer builders honoured at MND's national day observance ceremony on Thursday.ST PHOTO: YEO SAM JO

SINGAPORE - The success of Singapore was built on her founding fathers' governing principles of excellence, meritocracy, pragmatism and incorruptibility, and the country must build on this legacy for a better future, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday (Aug 6).

And to do this, the country needs good leaders, a seamless public service and to actively engage and consult its people when formulating policies, added Mr Khaw, who was speaking at his ministry's National Day observance ceremony at Jem in Jurong East.

"We owe what we have to our pioneers. We are reaping the fruits of their efforts and sacrifice," said Mr Khaw, referring to late leaders such as Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S Rajaratnam and Mr Lim Kim San.

He lauded their efforts in transforming Singapore, from cleaning up the Singapore River to resettling Singaporeans from slums to Housing Board flats.

Mr Khaw also thanked pioneers from the construction industry for helping to build the country. A group of 17 of these builders were present at Thursday's event.

One of them, former samsui woman Ng Moey Chye, 83, recalled working 12-hour days, carrying cement and bricks for just $3 a day.

"It was not easy earning a living then. Work was tough, just look at my hands," said Madam Ng, stretching out her rough, wrinkled palms.

"A lot has changed. Now there are machines to help with the building," added Madam Ng, who is not married. "We used to worry about not having enough to eat, now we talk about nourishment and eating well."

On Thursday, Mr Khaw also presented the biennial Minister's Team Award to 15 projects helmed by his ministry's agencies. The award recognises significant and innovative team-based projects.

He also launched "50 years of Transforming Our City , Our Home", a Ministry of National Development (MND) exhibition that showcases milestones in Singapore's urbanisation and public housing journey over the past 50 years.

The roving exhibition, now at Jem's Level 6 foyer, will rove to six other locations including the MND Complex in Maxwell Road, where it will be located permanently from December.

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg