SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, IN RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT’S OPENING OF NEW PARLIAMENT
Speaker Sir, Chinese please. 总统在演说中提到，新加坡已进入下一阶段的发展。从前，我们可以参考其他国家的做法，赶上它们的发展。现在，我们碰到的许多挑战，都比较复杂， 也没有明确的解决方法，其他国家也在摸索。我相信，面对这些挑战时，政府必须和人民一起创造解决方案。
例如中小型企业的转型， 俗语说，“创业难，守业更难”，我们可以加多一句，转型最难。 中小企业如何转型，将是一大挑战。 新建立的企业发展局，在帮中小企业实施转变后，必须更紧密地关注发展。而中小企业也必须积极求变，甚至全国的心态也必须转变，政府、大企业和一般民众在消费的时候，应该多考虑多关照我们的中小企业。
淡滨尼有 Tampines Hub, 勿洛有Bedok Integrated Complex，兀兰有Kampong Admiralty，讲来讲去，讲了这么多年，我们义顺的居民不知几时能有福气享有Nee Soon Hub 或 Nee Soon Integrated Complex 或者是Kampong Nee Soon.希望有关当局能向黄志明部长看齐，尽早实现黄部长昨天在国会说的”We hear you, we are with you, together we will make it real.”我们都很期待make it real的那一天。
I rise to put my vote of Thanks to the President for delivering a speech that not only inspires but points us to the direction that we must collectively work towards in the coming years. Our next generation of ministers are all lined up and ready to run the next lap. And, we are fortunate to have a system where there is orderly handover of the torch, so that the flame continues to burn. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the 4G team on their appointments.
Together as One
Mr Speaker, I am confident that together we can build Singapore as a good example of a democratic and multi-racial society. As I look back the past weeks, the milestone events from the select committee hearings to the appointment of new office bearers would doubtless show our resolve to continue with the way we have been running our country, in the best interest of our people – that’s the Singapore way whatever the naysayers may be hooting. Unlike them, we are proud to be Singaporeans. Unlike them, we don’t set sail in the same boat with the likes of Sinbad the Sailor. We don’t believe in “whatever will be will be”. We believe in charting the right course, after taking all the relevant readings on the compass.
Mr Speaker Sir
Now, let me turn to a topic that is a hot topic when parents get together – Education. Regardless of which school your children go to, so long as they are happy, they learn, they make good friends, they are in good schools. All schools have the same core syllabus and the teachers and principals are rotated around. Not every school can be RI or RGS. I agreed with honourable member Cheryl Chan, what is more important is character building, good moral values and whether the children can be contributing positively to the family, to the society and to the country.
I am indeed very pleased that our Education Minister had assured in the addendum that his Ministry would continue to strengthen its focus on Character and Citizenship Education and enhance Values-in-Action programmes. We have been very bold in the past few years in tweaking our education system to put less stress on our students and introduced experiential learning.
Many of the new ideas introduced are commendable. Students don’t just go to school to gain knowledge, they are also exposed to community service, there is a lot more outdoor learning, and even at the ITE, Poly and university they are put on internships. These would greatly help to build up a talent pool of thinking and adaptable people as they stream into the job market. All these efforts producing a new generation of young people. I think our country may not have seen the full impact of this new learning because many of the students are still studying, and the numbers that got into the job market is still small. But I have seen many who come to help me in my meet the people session and I must say they are impressive.
As we take steps to move away from the very staid and rigid old system of education, we as parents must also give encouragement to our children and assure them that the school that they are in, is a good school.
Graciousness in Community
Next, I want to ask that we as a community would have to move forward with confidence. We need to discard the “kiasu” mentality. So, we don’t have to go around “chope-ing” seats, rushing into trains, or pretending not to notice that you are taking up the seats meant for the elderly and pregnant women in the SMRT train. We need to learn to be more gracious. Yes, graciousness is something that we all can adopt. It is within our means to achieve.
The Dog Owner and the Smoker
Let me share my encounters.
We have a children’s playground in Nee Soon South and it’s very popular with children especially in the evening. Recently, a man used the recreational equipment as obstacles to train his dog. Many parents were very unhappy, some emailed me. They said this is not right. The playground is for kids, this is very unhygienic. But the man with the dog said, why not? Which NParks Act says he can’t use the playground equipment to train his dog?
Another example, a man smokes in his house. The smoke wafted to the unit upstairs. The man living there was not happy so they had some friction. The smoker argued, I have all the right to smoke anywhere in my own home. The neighbour maintained that he has to right to clean air and to protect his health and his family’s health.
So, if everyone argues like the two examples above, where do we go from here? Can we be more understanding and show compassion for others? Are we too quick to point fingers at others? Have we ever pause and think if we are doing enough for our community, our environment and our nation?
With our government’s support, we can start a ground-up campaign encouraging our community to make the change in behaviour, in attitudes etc for the next lap so that we can together have a stake in building up the Singapore.
Help the less privileged and those with special needs so that they too can participate. So, when introducing new policies please ask how this will help to bring down barriers and let people mix together irrespective of economic class, race or religion.
Building our economy
We must review what we have done and look at where we must improve. For example, our SMEs are we not able to do more for SMEs? Can we help them to build their track record? We have a few strong Singaporean companies such as the banks DBS, UOB, OCBC and we have airlines like SIA, Scoot, and others such as Keppel Corp, CapitaLand and so forth.
But we need to grow more such Singapore Inc to boost our economic growth. We need to stay relevant to the world.
Leadership is never so challenged as it is in today’s world. The need for us to adjust to meet the changed social environment has been a long time coming.
We will build on the foundations laid down by our pioneers who have set the ground. We need to continue to work hard which is our virtue, perhaps harder than our founding generation as the world is changing at very fast pace. In doing so, we must exercise good judgment and not discard what is working just for the sake of being bold. We must get some basics right such as getting our society to be more gracious society.
To accept that we live in a closely-knit community. This initiative and effort must begin with us. We see very conflicting demands from different people, each with different ideas, and each claiming they have their rights to this and that. If we don’t start to address this “your right and my right” issue, the narrative will separate our people. It will metastasize like cancer cells. It will wreck our society. We must act now if we don’t want to be known as “a one divided country with divided hearts”.