S'pore needs both financial and “social” reserves to thrive: President Tony Tan

SINGAPORE: President Tony Tan Keng Yam said that for Singapore to continue developing and to thrive as a nation, the country needs "social reserves".

This is on top of the country's financial reserves that buffer it in times of crisis.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the second Fullerton-SJI Lecture Series.

Dr Tan, a former student at St Patrick's School and St Joseph's Institution (SJI), said that Singapore's financial reserves, comprising fiscal surpluses accumulated over the years, are akin to savings in the bank and drawn on in emergencies.

“Social reserves,” he said, define who Singaporeans are as a nation and are drawn upon for resilience and stability in any crisis.

Dr Tan said: "The financial reserves are like the piggy bank of a family and social reserves are the bonds which unite the family.

“The social reserves of a nation are the intangible ties that bind us to one another. Just this year, we saw a good example of this during the haze period. Singaporeans looked out for one another."

Dr Tan said another way that Singaporeans can contribute towards the nation’s “social reserves” is by caring for the people around them.

He said: "Last year, I expanded the President's Challenge beyond fund-raising to also promote volunteerism and social entrepreneurship.

"I hope that the President's Challenge will contribute towards stronger social reserves by encouraging our people to do what we can…no matter how big or small, and to look out for one another, especially the needy.”

The lecture series brings together former SJI students who have made significant contributions to Singapore.

The aim is for them to share their success stories with secondary school and tertiary students, as well as some members of the business community.

Past speakers include Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, singer-songwriter Dick Lee and Makansutra founder KF Seetoh.  - CNA/nd