ST Global Outlook Forum: New social compact needed to help 'the slow keep pace with the fast', says Chan Chun Sing

ST news editor Zakir Hussain (left) with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Nov 28, 2018. Mr Chan said that Singaporeans must develop a sense of collective responsibility.
ST news editor Zakir Hussain (left) with Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Nov 28, 2018. Mr Chan said that Singaporeans must develop a sense of collective responsibility.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - To address the challenges of social mobility and social mixing, Singapore needs to develop a new social compact, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Wednesday (Nov 28).

Calling on individuals and groups to redouble efforts to help "the slow keep pace with the fast", he said the fast must see it as part of their social responsibility to reach out to those less able, "for us to progress as a society together".

His comments, in a speech at The Straits Times' annual Global Outlook Forum, come at a time when disquiet over globalisation continues to upend politics around the world.

During the forum, which took place at Raffles City Convention Centre, experts discussed issues such as climate change and how it will affect countries around the world. They also shared their views on specific topics such as the prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula.

On the need for a new social compact, Mr Chan said that although government policy goes some way towards helping the slow keep pace with changes, Singaporeans must also develop a sense of collective responsibility.

"Do we take the maximum that we think we are entitled to have, or do we leave something more for those who need it more?" he asked during a dialogue session that took place after his speech.

"If we have that kind of collective responsibility to one another, the kind of societal values that say it is a privilege to take care of others... and it's not just about us taking all that we can - then, I think, we will have the new social compact."

 
 

During the dialogue, Mr Chan also elaborated on an earlier point he had made about the importance of a political leadership that puts Singapore's interests above all else.

Having such a leadership will enable Singapore to navigate the challenges of globalisation by executing policies competently and consistently, he said.

"There's no magic formula to this," Mr Chan added. "How do we hardcode this into our DNA? It's a constant process; it's a never-ending task to find people with the correct value system."

Among those who come forward, he said, there must be a "sense of a higher purpose that they are here because the country is more important than their individual considerations".

During his speech, Mr Chan said that current global trends towards unilateralism, protectionism and trade frictions are all related in some way to globalisation, but Singapore must learn to manage these challenges, as closing its borders to globalisation "has never been and can never be an option".

"For a small city-state to survive and thrive, the world must be our hinterland from Day One," he said.