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Exceptional leadership and trust

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We face the immutable challenge of building leadership teams that can win the trust of the people. Larger and better-endowed countries may survive on their superior physical endowments. Small countries, more than others, will always require exceptional leadership to muster their finite resources to punch above their weight. However, the commitment of our people to come forth and serve - beyond their immediate and individual interests - is not something that we can always assume will happen naturally...

Our survival can also be attributed to our leaders' commitment to never shirk responsibilities towards our current and future generations. They had the mettle to make difficult but necessary decisions when the need arose, and kept faith with the people.

When Singapore gained independence, our pioneer leaders saw the need to build a credible defence force to protect our sovereignty and secure our future. However, they could not afford to have a large standing army or rely solely on volunteers. In fact, within the Chinese community, there was a saying that "good sons do not become soldiers, just as good iron is not used to make nails"; a very ingrained concept in Chinese society. Our pioneer leaders, however, stuck to their convictions and made the decisive move to introduce a conscription system.

The Central Provident Fund can be an emotive topic among Singaporeans. But reforms and continual tweaks are needed, so that the social security system is updated and remains effective to meet the needs of our people without passing the burden to the next generation.

Similarly, for healthcare. Eschewing the ideological debates, we have been and must continue to be bold to develop something that works - a system that enables access to affordable healthcare, yet inculcating individual responsibility; focusing on prevention, rather than treatment.

As for housing, some may not........

© The Straits Times