“Can Singapore fall?”

“Can Singapore fall?”

“Can Singapore fall?”
Everyone should read Lim Siong Guan’s talk

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Mr Lim Siong Guan delivered the first of three talks as part of the Institute of Policy Studies ‘S R Nathan Lectures’ the other day. In my forty years in Singapore I have not heard a more relevant, more thought-provoking or more intelligent talk. Moderate yet challenging, light-hearted but wise, Mr Lim’s career as former head of the Civil Service, Group President of GIC, Principal Private Secretary to Lee Kuan Yew and many other roles gives him a unique background to ask the critical question “Can Singapore fall?”

It would be impertinent to review Mr Lim’s talk. Every thought, every word was carefully chosen. His delivery was straightforward and because of that, spell-binding. His question is the one we all ask, but privately. It needed asking openly and I congratulate IPS for ensuring that it has been asked so thoughtfully, because the subject indeed needs much thought. If I were Minister of Education I would encourage every student and every teacher to read it followed by thirty minutes of silence to ponder what Mr Lim has to say.

There are two further talks in the series and I, for one, am eagerly awaiting them. What Mr Lim is discussing has many implications for how you and I work to ensure the revival of enterprise, the development of personal responsibility and the future role model that Singapore can be if it chooses. Leadership is not about size but about stature. A country’s stature is the sum of the stature of its citizens. And their stature is the result of how they handle their own self-respect in order to ensure their respect for others.

I am sure Mr Lim will suggest possible answers to how a future Singapore can flourish during his remaining two lectures. The first question he has posed for me is “How visible must Singapore continue to be in its inspirational leadership role in order to remain independent?” As he rightly pointed out, it is a global world whether we like it or not.

For now I want to say thank you to Mr Lim. The talk he gave was not a lecture in the prescriptive sense of the word, was not a warning in the frightening sense of the word and was not a call to arms in the clarion sense of that phrase. It was a call to thought.

I believe it can be a mind-changing moment for all who live and work in Singapore.

Thank you, Mr Lim.