SINGAPORE: Senior Minister of State for Education and Information, Communications and the Arts, Lawrence Wong, took part in an online ’live’ webchat by Channel NewsAsia — on issues raised during the programme, "A Conversation with PM Lee".
The webchat in the Channel NewsAsia newsroom with Mr Wong, which was fronted by online editor Ken Teh, builds on the momentum started on the TV forum.
One participant wanted to know what was the target population size for Singapore; while another wanted to know what is being done to enable Singapore students to compete better.
On the topic of education, there were various views, as well as questions. Asked what can be done to change parents’ mindsets about tuition, Mr Wong explained that there is no one single solution but gave the assurance that the search for answers is a process of engagement.
He said: "I don’t think we should say no tuition at all because some parents, and legitimately so, the children may struggle with classes and they may take some time and tuition may have a role with some of these cases.
"We don’t want to have excessive tuition and this is where we want to talk to and educate parents. That if it is done in an excessive manner, it may actually stifle the joy of learning in the child. And it will actually do more harm than good and that actually requires an engagement with parents."
Singapore’s declining fertility rate was also raised. One participant, Dian, wanted to know what the government feels about making it legal to freeze one’s eggs.
She said: "The freezing of eggs for social reasons is banned in Singapore. What is the government’s view on potentially legalising the freezing of eggs for social reasons? Are there any ethical objections and how we are going to overcome it?"
Turning to issues like alternative family structures — which were also raised during the TV programme with the prime minister — Mr Wong said such issues should be discussed as they involve values Singapore wants as a society.
He said: "There are some groups, which represent the majority, who value the importance of family structures, traditional family structures and there is a lot of value in that because having strong families, raising children in a living environment, that does a lot of good for the child.
"But social norms may change and evolve, so let’s have a conversation. That is why we are having this national conversation now with Singaporeans to discuss and have Singaporeans share what is important to them. And arising from that conversation, hopefully, we would be able to have a broad consensus of what Singaporeans want and if that consensus represents a shift from what we have today, then we should adjust our policies accordingly."
Concluding, Mr Wong stressed that it is important to have a national conversation where people can take part freely; and he welcomes ideas and views which are different.
A recording of the webchat can be found at
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