[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Thursday, July 05, 2007

[Dialogue with Women Professionals]
1. I've just had a lively dialogue with some twenty to thirty women professionals at a function organised by the PAP Women's Wing. Hwee Hua and Jessica chaired the session.

2. The subject was our foreign policy but the discussion covered a wide range of subjects. I talked about our relationship with our neighbours, ASEAN integration and re-emergent Asia.

3. One person asked what was our greatest political concern. I replied: our domestic cohesion. With globalisation, incomes are going to stretch out. Unless we pull everyone along, there's bound to be a political reaction. Many countries are not able to seize the new opportunities thrown up by globalisation because of difficult domestic politics. We have been able to respond reasonably quickly because of trust in government and our solidarity. But we must pay particular attention to the post-War, pre-65 baby boomers who are now, roughly, 40 to 60 years old. The majority in that generation had less than 6 years of education. Many don't speak English. In a recession, they are the first to be retrenched and, in an upturn, the last to be re-employed. Fortunately, their children are generally better educated and equipped for the modern economy.

4. In this new situation, we need more public philanthropy. Government has to do its part but what government does cannot provide the social glue to hold us together. It is important that those of us who are better off keep an eye out for those who are left behind. Only then can our society be kept united and whole. What Warren Buffet did in the US, donating billions of dollars to the Gates Foundation, was truly heartwarming. The Americans have a wonderful tradition of public philanthropy which makes the country great.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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