Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Our Philosophy - Science For Everybody

Our philosophy was that Science affects everybody, therefore science must be made to be everybody’s business for the betterment of our society. Many of us at one time or another have encouraged others to engage in positive activities with passion and commitment to make their contributions. How to make people accept this approach has always been our challenge.

It is part of human nature to want to do some good deeds for others, to be noticed, respected and accepted by our peers and members of our community. We have to give our people opportunities to do this in their own way. In return we must give credit where it is due and show our appreciation and recognition for the contributions our people made. What we could give in return was not much but it was enough to attract many to participate in our various programmes and projects.

Not every one celebrated when Singapore became an independent nation in 1965. Many were really worried about the future. The challenges we faced were formidable and daunting. Political freedom alone would not provide us with the type of life we want. Political freedom with all the slogans of the day could not give us freedom from poverty and diseases. We could not even get jobs during the Japanese occupation and immediately after the war. Political independence is great but how are we to continue to survive and pursue the ideals as represented by our National Flag? .

Independence was a real wake up call for many of us. We could not accept certain conditions. We were too proud to beg or to live on charity. Many of us have lived through World War II and its aftermath. We knew what things were like at its worst. We survived and were confident that we can do it again. We must not fail as this would be a let down to ourselves, our families, our ideals and our country. We could not live with ourselves if we fail. This was the spirit that kept many of us going.

We realized that unlike the newly developing countries the rich and powerful nations have highly developed science and technology (S&T) capabilities which they applied successfully for their economic and national development. S & T resides in human beings. We can build our S & T capabilities by building up our human resources. This was made one of our national priorities, the development of S & T manpower.

The next important thing is to make our people work together for some common missions. In tiny Singapore making people work together should be easier than in big countries. This made Singapore what it is today. How did we do it? This is best illustrated by the individual successful activities, projects and institutions we have built. In this many people are involved and they have their own tales to tell in every case.

If these people can tell of their experiences, their challenges and their feelings of success they will help encourage and inspire others to do the same without undue fear of failure which often is the cause many are held back from action.

Yes, it is true that when something becomes everybody’s business, it can become nobody’s business. Singapore is good in getting important parties to work together. We need more people who know how to do this. Having high IQ individuals alone is not enough. We must have people with good EQ besides being street wise so that we can be accepted and trusted by those we work with. We also need more people who are passionate and dare to do what they believe in. This is something worth striving for – more quality people and not just more people alone. Some of the projects we did and the challenges we faced will be discussed in the coming articles.

Lee Kum Tatt

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