In a speech at a ceremony in which he received London's Freedom of the City award ("A tale of two cities"; last Friday), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong aptly noted that Singapore has to find the right balance in its quest to be a global city.
Our country celebrates its 50th birthday next year and we still owe our founding fathers much for crafting our national identity in those infant years. In a sense, we are the product of the glorious legacy built by our founding government led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
He built a Singapore that is well known for its clean and efficient government. It is also a country known for its safety and conservative Asian values, which make it a good place to raise children to be upright and responsible citizens.
In our bid to be a top global city, we must be careful not to emulate wholesale the values and cultures of other global cities like London or New York. They have very different cultural and historical make-ups and societal identities.
It took our founding fathers years to craft our modern Asian identity, and this should not be lost.
Our traditional values of filial piety, humility and a focus on the family should be promoted, instead of Western values like absolute freedom of speech, sexual permissiveness or gender ambiguity.
These have never been part of our societal culture, with the majority holding conservative Asian values.
Ironically, some well-educated foreign families have moved to Singapore because of our conservative values. They believe our environment, with stable governance, is ideal for raising families.
Our family of five - soon to be six - is proud of the type of society and values our founding fathers have built. We would like to raise our children in this country, and nowhere else in the world.
For our 50th anniversary, we should build a top global city that is uniquely Singaporean, yet unabashedly Asian - and found nowhere else in the world.
Tan Eng Chun (Dr)
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