SINGAPORE - Singaporeans should be encouraged to have a stake in making the country an "exceptional nation", said Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim on Monday.
This can be done through the education system and a scaling back of the Government's presence in certain sectors, she added.
The Aljunied GRC MP was the first opposition MP to speak since the opening of the 13th Parliament and she was referring to President Tony Tan Keng Yam's call to build an "exceptional nation" during his address to the House.
"Its people should have dreams for the country, a vision of what the country should be, and the gumption to go out and realise that vision," she said.
But the education system should provide the right environment for Singaporeans to start dreaming big from young.
Assessment of students "should nurture a spirit of exploration, and encourage students to think out of the box and to have differing opinions", she said.
For instance, extra credit can be given to students who give alternative answers that are not the exact "model answers".
Students should also learn that "some things may be worth doing even if one fails". Ms Lim suggested that the school syllabus include case studies of people who failed to achieve what they set out to do but nevertheless were pursuing an important cause.
Also, Singaporeans will feel that their opinions matter if there are "power centres" where the Government has no presence, she said.
The people will then feel that they are equal partners in their collaboration with the authorities.
"The Government needs to let go and devolve more power" by reducing its presence in matters of "non-core government functions", she added.
It was a theme that Ms Lim had highlighted during last year's general election campaign, and she repeated her call for professional bodies and national sports associations to be managed without government representatives or MPs on their boards.
Ultimately, this will result in Singaporeans taking ownership of the country, she said.
"Empowered Singaporeans will not blame others when the going gets tough", but will face difficulties head on, she added.
This article was first published on January 25, 2016.
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