Bringing ideas to reality will keep Singapore ahead: Heng

Bringing ideas to reality will keep Singapore ahead: Heng
Mr Heng noted that successive leaders after Mr Lee Kuan Yew have had very different styles of leadership and that the trend has been towards increasing openness and participation. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY
Republic will have its place in the world if it helps solve challenges: Finance Minister
Published: 5:53 PM, January 29, 2016
Updated: 6:17 AM, January 30, 2016
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SINGAPORE — The Republic may be at the cusp of a “major structural transformation” with disruptions coming much faster, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told the House today (Jan 29), on the final day of the debate on the President’s Address. 

For the nation to succeed, it must remain at the forefront — not just in terms of having new ideas but more importantly, “to have the capacity to turn ideas into useful products, services, or business models”, said Mr Heng during the fifth and final day of the debate on the President’s Address.

Mr Heng, who chairs The Future Economy Committee, stressed that Singapore can be a place where good ideas for the world can be realised, where people can come together to create value and make an impact. “If we can be a place to help solve a fraction of the world’s challenges, we will create value — we will have our place in the world,” he said. 

And he was optimistic that Singapore can rise to the challenge out of necessity and the fact that there is no lack of support, given the country’s investments in research and development, knowledge creation, and in connecting with the world. 

“We have to solve many of our own pressing challenges,” he said, recalling how, for example, the Republic created its own technology to overcome the scarcity of water. 

He added: “There is a great deal of energy around how Singapore can serve as a base for good ideas from around the world … especially in Asia, to uplift lives.”

He noted that Singaporeans are a people “with a habit of innovation, and a habit of applying innovation in every aspect of our life”. “We may not realise this,” he pointed out. But the fact is that Singapore’s social policy innovations in housing, healthcare and the Central Provident Fund, among others, are studied around the world. 

The Future Economy Committee will be looking at the subject of innovation in detail, and Mr Heng noted that innovation is seen in many areas of life. He cited the “inspiring example” of the Chinatown public library, which has no staff and is manned entirely by a team of volunteers. 

“Best of all, of all libraries in Singapore, it has one of the highest user satisfaction rates. It just shows how a simple idea of reshaping the relationship with library visitors not only saves manpower, but enhances their experience,” Mr Heng said. 

While Singapore has the necessary conditions for good ideas to be realised, he noted that ideas and creating value alone are not enough. “If we want to move forward together, we must share value, in a fair and inclusive way,” he said.

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