Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2010
On Monday, I attended the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2010. Actually, I was helping out as one of the committee! Haha. Basically, the KRMF is a yearly forum organised by the NUS Students’ Political Association where key political figures are invited to the campus to address the students. It usually includes a lively Q&A session open to the floor. This year, our invited speaker was none other than Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (also Minister for Defence).
He was an extremely eloquent speaker, and I quite enjoyed listening to him banter with the students during the Q&A. For instance, one student from Biz expressed his worry that with Singapore banking heavily on the tourist dollar (with the opening of the 2 Integrated Resorts and other attractions like Ion, Iluma & 313), this would make Singapore vulnerable to global fluctuations and changes, i.e. Singapore would be too dependent on tourist revenue. DPM acknowledged his point but pointed out that Singapore was also diversifying by making itself relevant to upcoming economies like India and China. Later, he even asked that student what were the top 3 reasons for him starting a family in Singapore (for some reason I cannot remember, that student had confirmed his decision to raise his family in Singapore, which DPM was very happy with). It was quite hilarious, because the first reason he gave was food, and the whole auditorium burst into laughter. But he also named Singapore’s safety & security and education system (e.g. bilingual education policy) as the other 2 reasons, which DPM agreed with.
Anyway, I don’t want to bore you with any more details. In total, I noted about 12 or 13 questions. The Q&A session ended up going grossly overtime because students kept coming to the mikes to ask questions, which the DPM gamely engaged with even though he didn’t need to. After the official event, he also stayed very late to mingle with students and staff at the reception outside the auditorium! Haha, good impression eh. Best thing was, as a committee member, I got to take a photo with him! Woo! Something to show my children when I’m old and wrinkled.
One last thing that really stuck with me. DPM was asked about leadership renewal, and he made a comment that one generation will always feel that the next is not ready to take over. At some point, you just have to let go. And I heartily agree with this. I hold the opinion that if incumbent leaders don’t leave, the younger ones will be hampered from stepping up. Even though it might create a “power vacuum”, I think it actually forces them to grow and mature and fill their roles. And I’m not just referring to the Singapore government – I was thinking of other contexts. But it just left an impact on me.