Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 01/28/2013 20:06 | By Channel NewsAsia

Singapore’s system of meritocracy can be improved: Lawrence Wong

Singapore’s system of meritocracy can be improved: Lawrence Wong

Singapore’s system of meritocracy can be improved: Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s system of meritocracy can be improved for the benefit of all, as part of the ideals of a fair and just society, said Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong

He highlighted this as an area that the country can do better in when he spoke at the Singapore Perspectives seminar on Monday morning.

The seminar also heard from opposition politician Sylvia Lim on how the Workers’ Party can contribute to politics in the country.

Governing the future together will mean casting new roles and ties between the government and citizens, as well as refreshing the values that Singaporeans cherish.

Mr Wong said while meritocracy ranks top among the values, he stressed that Singapore does not want a system where its people seek to advance individual interests at the expense of others.

Mr Wong said: "We do not want a meritocracy that results in a closed group of winners where advantages to any individual are ascribed by birth. What we want is to shape a system of meritocracy in Singapore that works for the benefit of all and is consistent with our ideals for a fair and just society.

He added that it is not going to be easy to do this and there are "no ready—made solutions".

Mr Wong, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, also believes that evolving leadership in a new environment of active citizenry and civic participation will be more challenging.

"It is not always possible to align everyone to the same view. Leaders also have to decide, explain the basis for decisions they make and take responsibility for the outcomes," explained Mr Wong.

With a general election and two by—elections held recently in the country, the topic of politics was very much predominant at the Singapore.

Perspectives and participants at the seminar wanted to know what role opposition politicians and their parties can play in the country’s political development.

Workers’ Party chairman Sylvia Lim, who was one of the speakers at the seminar, said: "Some people criticise us for being too moderate. Perhaps they want us to be more rebel—rousing and be more vociferous perhaps in some of our objections. Fundamentally, we will have to take the position that we feel is correct by our own beliefs and which is sustainable. And one of the factors we take into account is public support.

Ms Lim added: "We gauge our politics by how far the public supports us. If we find that we have no support for the things we are doing then it is fine for us to review and do things differently. But so far as we can see, we do have public support. Singaporeans do appreciate opposition politics of the sort that we offer them, so we humbly take that as a support of us and we will still pursue the line which we think is sustainable and correct."

Ms Lim said that while political parties may have different ideologies, their focus must still be to ensure the well—being of Singaporeans.

She said: "We need to constantly check ourselves against (being) too embroiled in partisan politics to miss the wood for the trees. The wood here is the people’s well—being which should always be the guiding light in our actions. We should guard against one—upmanship and ask ourselves where lies the greater good.

"I have personally made it a point to submit submissions to the government in certain policy areas I am familiar with ahead of public debate. My experience shows the ministries were objective and took my views on board to revise legislation."

The opposition politician believes political competition is a safeguard to improve Singaporeans’ lives.

— CNA/al/fa

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