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 Young Singaporeans should have confidence in their future, says DPM Teo

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PostSubject: Young Singaporeans should have confidence in their future, says DPM Teo   Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:00 pm

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says young Singaporeans should have a well—founded confidence in their future.

He pointed out that even though Singapore has vulnerabilities, the country has strong anchors that will keep it stable.

Mr Teo was speaking at a wide—ranging dialogue session at a forum attended by more than 250 undergraduates.

The forum was organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Student’s Political Association.

The forum was an opportunity for young Singaporeans to highlight their concerns about Singapore’s future.

One point raised — is it possible for Singapore to fall, despite the progress so far.

Mr Teo was frank — saying yes, there is that possibility, if Singapore is not careful.

He said as a small nation the margin for error is much less compared to bigger countries. And being trade—dependent, Singapore is also vulnerable to external factors.

That is why there are buffers — such as the country’s strong reserves and investment in defence.

Mr Teo said: "So what am I putting to you? I’m telling you we worry, we have vulnerabilities. So the question is should all of you be so frightened that all of you abandon ship straightaway? No, the answer is no, because in fact what I’m trying to put to you is, you should have a well—founded confidence in our own future, and why? Because even though we have vulnerabilities, we have anchors against these vulnerabilities, and indeed we have many, many strengths for the future."

One student urged leaders to do away with what he calls "the culture of fear" in politics.

Farouk Osman, an Undergraduate, said: "It’s regarding a statement made by the Minister Mentor that if the opposition wins in a GRC contest then Singaporeans should better sell their flat because they would no longer be of any value. I think that’s bad. He’s basically saying don’t vote the opposition and my feeling is that most Singaporeans don’t like being told what to do, especially regarding political stuff and this is especially so for people like us, the younger generation."

Responding, Mr Teo said he agreed that how the government engages the people is important.

Mr Teo said: "People are sensitive. I mean I don’t like being told what to do. I prefer to think that I make up my own mind and so do most Singaporeans. But you know Minister Mentor. He’s got a wealth of experience, he’s probably heard this question multiple times and he is famous for telling it like it is."

On Singapore’s "secret weapon" in the event of an economic crisis, Mr Teo said that would be its people.

The questions flowed easily in the highly interactive dialogue with Mr Teo himself seeking clarifications and feedback to some of the questions posed to him. In fact one of the issues that got the audience in stitches was a call for longer maternity leave which prompted Mr Teo to get his young audience to think about loosening up and not to over—plan parenthood.

Mr Teo said: "You want to wait for perfection before you decide to get married, you want a perfect man or this perfect woman to come along but this doesn’t exist! It just doesn’t exist! You’re looking for this 10 which doesn’t exist maybe 8.5 will do or 7.5 will be alright and then you just adapt to each other.

"Then you want to wait for this perfect house to come along before you actually tie the knot. Then you want to wait for this perfect moment in your married life before you have your first child, and you don’t want to have your first child unless you’re sure your child can score 250 points in PSLE. Nobody can guarantee that! I’m not suggesting that we all become promiscuous but we can all loosen up a bit."

And with reports of opposition figures conducting their walkabouts, one undergraduate wondered if ’election fever’ was heating up.

Mr Teo said: "You cannot watch the PAP and know if the elections are coming. Once the elections are over, we already start working the ground. It becomes so boring and so routine the media never reports on it."

This is unlike the opposition which Mr Teo said is "hardly" seen walking around.

"I don’t know when the elections will be. I can only tell you that with each passing day, the elections come one day closer," he said. — CNA/de

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