'Don't ask the government to solve all the problems': PM Lee

'Don't ask the government to solve all the problems': PM Lee

In the second part of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's televised chat, 'Ask The Prime Minister', he talks about what attitudes of Singaporeans he would like to change, and the importance of social compact and trust.

If there is one attitude of Singaporeans which you could change, what could it be and how would you change it?

I think I would choose two [attitudes].

Do not ask the government to solve all the problems. I think there Is a certain mindset in Singapore every time a problem comes up. Immediate question is: What is the government going to do about it? What is the government going to do about this mindset? And I think that, yes, the government has to be on top of the game, and be thinking ahead, solving problems. But when issues come up, we really would like people to take the attitude: What can I do about it? What can we do together about it? How can we solve this problem and do something and make a difference in our own lives?

I think that is the more resilient, more sturdy approach which will see us through the long-term, so that's one thing I'd like to change.

The other thing I'd like to change is to have our people look out more. We are very preoccupied with our own problems and our day-to-day lives, and that's very important. But we also have to know what's happening in the world around us. Good things, bad things, challenges, opportunities, ways which we should be grateful, ways which we should... learn, can do better.

Big things happen in the world; sometimes we do not pay much attention. There is a very major terrorist attack in Nairobi in Kenya - 60 over people died. The latest reports... didn't make it to the front page of any of our newspapers. What is on the front page? Ceiling fell down at a shopping centre - for several days in a row. Ceilings are important, but I think we need to look out to the rest of the world, because they impact on our lives in a huge way. And it's not thousand of miles away, it's on our doorstep, really. And we need to have that external orientation, that openness, to track what's happening, and to adjust, and to be psychologically ready to deal with things as they happen, and before they happen.

Worry about next generation

Every generation worries about the next. I worry about my children; I think one day they will worry about theirs; I hope I am wrong in my worries, but well, we try our best to guide them the right way. I think that they are probably in some ways, better adapted to the world they are going to live in than we are. Because we are digital immigrants, we grew up before the internet, before social media. We didn't grow up with headphones in our ears, walking around looking down at the screen.

But that's what the kids do - they do it while they are studying, they do it while they are socialising, they chat with one another. Instead of talking to one another they type to one another. But it's natural for them, and the way the world is going, you need these skills, and I think in Singapore these kids will have the skills.

But some things haven't changed in the world. We are still a small country, we are still in South East Asia, it's still a dangerous world, and you still must learn about human beings and how to make your way through life. And I hope that the new generation will have those strengths and those values and those instincts too.

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