Government has to engage people and understand their concerns: Minister
For future generations of Singaporeans to remain hopeful about the country, the Government has to always engage the people and understand their concerns, said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
This is why the country's leaders have shifted their governing style to go beyond working for Singaporeans to working with them, he said yesterday at a gala dinner to mark the 65th anniversary of Singapore Polytechnic (SP).
He noted that there are many policy proposals that would benefit from public participation, citing how many ideas for education reforms have come from parents, academics and MPs.
But he cautioned that the Government always receives varied and even opposing views. Its job is to assess and decide on the most appropriate course, figure out how to best implement it and explain the rationale to the public.
"In the nature of a consultative process, the decision will go against the opinions of some, and there will be a perception that the Government did not actually listen to them.
"But I think this problem is unavoidable," he told attendees comprising SP alumni and industry partners at the Dover campus.
"As Government, we just have to be sincere about it and do our best to explain how we came to the decision, and get better at it over time."
Citizens can also play a part by making an effort to interact with people in person to understand their views, Mr Ong said.
At the start of his speech, he shared how a student recently asked him why the Government just looked at gross domestic product (GDP) as a measure of success.
"We don't and we shouldn't," he said in response.
But a major part of people's well-being is economic well-being.
That is why countries track GDP, he said, making the point that housing, the economy and education are key contributors to economic well-being.
Meanwhile, education provides means for personal growth and opportunities for Singaporeans.
The education system is being reformed because the environment has changed drastically, he noted.
At the heart of these reforms is the need to define a broader meritocracy, he said, highlighting the importance of recent changes that place less emphasis on academic grades, among other things.