PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong has called on Singaporeans living abroad to take part in Our Singapore Conversation, since they too have a stake in the country's future.
Speaking to Singaporeans living in Auckland yesterday, he stressed the importance of the Government paying more attention to citizens living overseas - by taking into account their concerns and keeping them updated about developments back home.
"(The national conversation) includes also Singaporeans who are overseas, who keep their links back home and who want to know about the country and its future. In today's world, it's completely possible and reasonable and good that you should also be part of this conversation, and your ideas also should contribute to the process and to the outcome," Mr Lee said.
"I'm sure there will be other opportunities you will get together. We look forward to your inputs because this is our shared future."
The 100 Singaporeans at the reception, including 25 students from the University of Auckland, were keen on contributing their ideas. Overseas Singaporeans, they said, will add to the diversity of perspectives.
Mr Allan Yee, president of the Singapore Club Auckland, which has 400 members, pledged to convert some of the club's regular activities into discussions on Singapore's future. He said the Our Singapore Conversation committee was more than welcome to send representatives to these sessions.
There was no shortage of views at yesterday's event.
Co-founders of the Singapore Students' Association (Auckland) Nicholas Chew and Melissa Tee said Singaporeans studying abroad were often at a disadvantage in looking for jobs in Singapore, because of their lack of networks and internship experience.
They said a government initiative to provide them with more information and links would help.
Mr Yee said the Singapore education system should encourage more spontaneity and creativity through less one-way-street teaching and more self-initiated projects by students.
Chairman of life sciences group NZBIO Paul Tan said firms in both countries would benefit if the regulatory authorities linked the approval process for new drugs, so that applications that got the go-ahead in one country were sped up in the other.
- end of ST article. Reprinted with permission.