Even as Singapore marks its 50th anniversary next year, youth should look further to when their country turns 100, and consider how they can shape what it would be like by 2065, Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said.
But to do so, they need to be aware of developments in the outside world, for Singapore is heavily affected by what happens elsewhere, he told 130 youth at a dialogue in Woodlands yesterday.
Mr Chan suggested they adopt four As to help make sense of what they see and read: be aware, analyse the issues, apply lessons from elsewhere to Singapore's context and think of alternatives.
"Never be a frog in the well, concerned with only our own issues," he said, citing a Chinese proverb. "Never keep our eyes off the ball of what is happening elsewhere which may impact us."
Several students brought up melting polar ice caps and the Ebola pandemic in West Africa as current matters they were aware of.
Mr Chan welcomed their interest, noting that these can affect Singapore if a new Arctic route shifts shipping away from Singapore's port, or if Ebola turns into a global pandemic.
Turning to another scenario, he said a severe global economic crisis may see Singaporeans lose their jobs, which would affect whether the young could achieve their dreams and ambitions. This is why, he said, it was "important to keep abreast of events elsewhere, try to pre-empt their impact on Singapore and make sure we can ride the tide of the world and continue to succeed".
Mr Chan also made the point that people's success depended not just on hard work and talent but also on the opportunities they were given by society, and this was why those who are more successful should help those who are less successful.
This public-spiritedness can help youth develop a sense of ownership and rootedness in the country, he said in reply to a question from Ms Stuti Datta, 22.
Ms Datta, a final-year chemical engineering student at the National University of Singapore, had asked why Mr Chan returned to Singapore after studying in Cambridge. She said many of her friends overseas showed no signs of wanting to return.
Mr Chan said: "There will be economic sojourners in this world, people who say: 'I stay because the place gives me the opportunities'. But will I stay to create opportunities for my fellow man? If we have that, then I think we can have a 2065 (for Singapore)."
This article was first published on Nov 03, 2014.
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