Social capital will define Singapore's success as a nation: PM Lee

Hoe Yeen Nie Channel NewsAsia 31 Dec 11;

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans must strengthen their values of tolerance, mutual respect and empathy, as their country's success as a nation is increasingly defined not just in economic terms but also by the country's social capital.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the call in his 2012 New Year message on Saturday, saying the effort must go beyond being civil and considerate.

He said it involves actively appreciating others' perspectives, caring for fellow citizens, conducting a constructive public discourse and accepting the need to make compromises that benefit the majority.

Mr Lee said these are essential attributes of a mature, gracious society, which he believes Singaporeans want for their country.

He said he is glad to see signs of such positive engagement emerging and cited the work of nature, heritage and other interest groups as an example.

He praised them for working closely and enthusiastically with the Ministry of National Development on the project to redevelop the former KTM railway land.

At the same time, interested Singa­poreans are making innovative suggestions on how to balance development and nature along the rail corridor.

Mr Lee said Singaporeans need to handle other more contentious issues as constructively too, such as the building of new expressways, train lines or nursing homes that affect residents nearby.

He said if all sides refuse to budge, Singapore will be gridlocked and nothing will move.

He urged Singaporeans to uphold a spirit of give and take, actively search for creative and practical outcomes that serve the common good, as well as rally behind collective decisions.

- CNA/fa