Sunday, June 29, 2014

Notes from Stanley - Sustainable Singapore; A product of interplay between Community Activism and Sound Policies

The President’s Address 2014 has been an affirmative and optimistic statement of what our government is seeking to achieve, making the firm promise to improve the lives of Singaporeans. I am pleased that our national leaders have taken constructive steps towards listening to the plea of Singaporeans, and have created or refined policies to meet the constantly changing needs of our country.

As a youth who had just entered working life, one of the greatest concerns my peers and I have typically revolve around finding stable jobs that provide us with competitive salaries and growth opportunities. Fortunately for us, we were born in a generation blessed with the resources, education and opportunities to make informed decisions on our own accord. To put it simply, we can ask ourselves what kind of lives do we want and select a career that suits us best. Ultimately, regardless of any misfortune which befall us, we can be assured that there will always be at least be a roof over our heads, and basic necessities that are provided for or subsidized by the nation. 

However, we have often forgotten how sheltered we are from the struggles experienced by Singapore’s pioneers, who were devoid of the resources which we now possess. To even aspire for a better future for themselves or their families was a farfetched dream. Having the assurance and wealth of a country that would be able to meet most Singaporeans’ needs was simply unthinkable at that time too! Therefore, it is certainly appropriate that our pioneers be rewarded for their valiant efforts in creating this country of possibilities, and their utmost right to reap what they have rigorously sowed. 

Nonetheless, amidst the new policies introduced in improving the lives of citizens, I am constantly apprehensive and concerned about the possibilities of our youths and nation developing a sense of entitlement -an insidious venom in the heart of any nation that wishes to progress. 

As a nation, if we constantly expect the government to provide solutions to every societal problem, we would inevitably be paralyzed by the lack of effort which the community (The common folk in the neighborhood) ought to provide. In every nation, the leaders and followers should always work towards a mutual goal and not be segregated. In order to bring Singapore to greater heights, our citizens should see our government as an organization which does not have solutions for everything, but rather be an activist and build a community of solution makers and feedback providers. We need to assist our government in planning and developing good policies, as well as executing such policies to make the lives of our community better!

Also, apart from communicating our needs, we have to acknowledge that scarcity exists. The limited supply of resources is unable to cater to the unlimited demands of the citizens.  Thus, in the hope of driving positive sustainable changes, Singapore requires collaborative efforts of both the grassroot leaders, as well as our citizens to create sustainable improvements to the community.

Learning from the financial woes of the European countries, I have realized that a nation has to work on the sustainability of all policies; populist and welfare, to prevent ourselves from being trapped in a vicious cycle stemmed by an unyielding sense of entitlement. As such, while we are all ambitious of increasingly better policies to alleviate the negative consequences of the rising living costs, prudency should always be our top priority. Also, we need to ensure that concrete steps are taken to progressively attain the ultimate goal that we are all aiming for. As much as I do applaud Singaporeans for having developed a respectable working culture of striving and pursuing our own paths of success, we ought to know that the nation is not responsible for our well-being merely due to the existence of welfare policies.

Last but not least, I believe that the role of the ASPIRE committee is paramount to the success of our nation’s progress and that we provide Singaporeans with multiple platforms to succeed while we constantly improve on the education system. We have to ensure that students who are less academically inclined do not fall through the cracks. Instead, I agree with the President’s stance on the importance of creating more alternative pathways for citizens to pursue better education and careers. As a late bloomer myself, I have travelled the route of a Polytechnic education and subsequently went on to achieve a degree. Through this educational path, I have seen how a vocational education provides a more suited learning environment that allowed me to hone my strengths and discover my talents in a way that differs drastically from what was provided by Junior Colleges. I have also had the privilege to meet many of my polytechnic’s alumni who have attained remarkable progress in their respective careers despite not having a degree. Thus, while we strive to allow the majority of our youths to be self-sufficient, and ultimately enjoy greater employability and income, we should not downplay the importance of the assistance that ITE and Polytechnic students require. 

In conclusion, I hope that the Singapore parliament and citizens alike, will not be complacent about the policies established, but stay critical and constructive towards the improvements we have to make in our policies to help ensure that no one gets left behind.

Mr Stanley Chia
REACH Supervisory Panel Member
Managing Director, Envisage Education Pte Ltd
Vice-President, SingYouth Hub

Friday, April 11, 2014

Do you believe in God?

Brandon: Do you believe in God?

Ander: Well… No, I don’t.

Brandon: Why?

Ander: There is no such thing as a God, I can’t see him or feel him. I rather put my trust on what I know to be truth or have seen to be truth.
How about you? Do you believe in God?

Brandon: Yes, I do.

Ander: Why so? Haven’t all the books you've read or knowledge you've gained from high school or university taught you to rely on logic rather than trusting in things which are false and baseless?

Brandon: I do agree with you that school has taught us to think and be logical in our thinking. But just because we have acquired the ability to reason, doesn't mean that we are right.

Ander: Oh really? So what have you learnt from all the science textbooks which you've read in school? Don’t they provide a better source of evidence and knowledge to rely upon rather than on mere faith, believes or feelings to help you tell right from wrong or the truth from the false, and vise versa?

Brandon:  Despite what we have learnt in school, don’t you agree that mankind have not and will never obtain a full understanding of everything that occurs in the universe?

Ander: I disagree with you. We might not understand everything yet, but someday we will.

Brandon: What makes you think we will? Have we till date, know what’s out there beyond our universe? Have we even clearly understood how our human brain works? As our society change and as we gain in knowledge, haven’t we only realized how much we don’t know rather than how much we know?

Ander: I agree with you, that we might never discover all the answers. However, does it mean that we give up and stop pursuing knowledge, understanding of the world and what is truth from what’s not?

Brandon: Nope. I agree with you, we should not give up. Instead, the pursuit of truth is of utmost important for the progress of humanity. However, that does not erase the fact or overrule the argument that we might never truly understand ‘everything’.

And hence here is where God apply, the notion of the supreme-being who created the world, who knows every bird and every tree, every river and every creek that exist in this planet.

The notion that amid the chaos and uncertainty, there is a form of order that regulates and controls the destiny of the world and each of us.

Ander: Right…. And what hard evidence does this ‘believe’ stamps on? Haven’t you heard that the ‘fool’ is someone who simply believes in an answer provided for questions that they can’t answer rather than relying on their own pursuit of the truth?

Brandon: I do agree with you to some extent. However, if you hypothetically treat God as a factual being and that he has provided you answers to questions which you will never truly be able to answer, and so happen that these answers are true. Nonetheless, no matter what… you just do not believe in these answers, doesn't that make you the ‘fool’ instead?

Ander: Hmm…. Interesting thought…. Than it depends on what our faith is based on then? I base my faith on logic/reasoning/science, while yours on God/religion?

Brandon: Yes. I guess you can put it that way. However, please do not get me wrong, I do not refute science. In fact I embrace it and see it as a source of truth and knowledge, similar to how you do. However, the key difference is that I rely on God to explain what can’t be explain and teach me values/wisdom/knowledge which I might never discover/understand by myself.

In addition, you are actually no different from me. Don’t you realize that you also have a ‘God’ in your life? 

Haven’t you realize that the determination and confidence in your argument must be based on your faith in your personal believes of what is truth and what is false?

Since neither of us can provide conclusive evidence whether or not God exist or not, haven’t we placed our faith in our personal believes to either support or refute the notion of God? In that sense, your own logic is your ‘God’, it being the object of your faith that provides you the confidence to refute God.

2 Corinthian 4:18 - while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

For those who have grown up with the privilege of becoming educated from the well refined education system of the modern/post-modern world.

How often have we become so confident and prideful that we think we know everything?
That we think we can reason everything?
That we think we can always tell the truth from the false, all the time?

Well, in some things we may. But in many things I have come to terms that we truly truly truly… can’t.

We have to acknowledge the foolishness of our pride and humbly recognize our lack of ability in understanding/knowing everything. We have to not just be confident in what we know, but also always be mindful that there are many things we will never know or fully understand. Such as the limitation of man…

Google and read ‘What is Man?’ by Mark Twain. It has always been such an endlessly thought-provoking piece. At least, for the humble me… 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Singapore's 20 hottest startups to watch in 2014

I've not been posting for quite awhile, hence apologies for not finding the time to write more!!!

But here is an exciting news I wish to share with all of you!

Collegify has been listed as Singapore's 20 hottest startups to watch n 2014!!! by the Singapore Business Review.