Book on asset building by NUS dons launched

29 August 2018 | General News
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Mr Lee (holding book) launched the book Critical Issues in Asset Building in Singapore's Development co-edited by Dr Vasoo (2nd from left) and Assoc Prof Singh (3rd from right), which included contributions from NUS Social Work Assoc Prof Irene Ng, Director, Social Service Research Centre at FASS (far left); Assoc Prof Bernard Loo, Coordinator, Master of Science (Strategic Studies) degree programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University (2nd from right); and Dr Norshahril Saat, Fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched Critical Issues in Asset Building in Singapore’s Development on 24 August, a book co-edited by Dr S Vasoo, Associate Professorial Fellow from NUS Social Work and Associate Professor Bilveer Singh from NUS Political Science that documents the instrumental role played by asset building in the country’s growth and development. In attendance were Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education and Professor Robbie Goh, NUS Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) Dean.

Mr Lee graced the occasion as Guest-of-Honour, and in his speech, highlighted public housing and the Central Provident Fund as examples of assets which the government has put in place. “Our asset-building approach emphasises individual work ethic and personal responsibility, supported by government policies and resources, and Singaporeans support this approach. This support from Singaporeans for sound government policies is one of our intangible assets,” he said. There are other intangible shared values and social norms which “underpin Singapore’s society and unity...and hold us together as one people”, he shared. These intangibles, discussed by the authors, are an important part of the book, he added.

Our asset-building approach emphasises individual work ethic and personal responsibility, supported by government policies and resources, and Singaporeans support this approach. This support from Singaporeans for sound government policies is one of our intangible assets.

Elaborating on this point, Assoc Prof Singh said in his opening remarks that intangible assets formed a “very potent force”. “In times of trouble, this is what is going to keep us going and I think this is something which we want to actually pass from one generation to the other. If this spirit is broken, we are broken,” he said. Demonstrating faith in Singapore’s survival, he added, “Once you have a people who are prepared to die for the cause of a nation, that nation will never die and will live on.”

Dr Vasoo paid tribute to the strong foundations established by earlier generations of leaders, which have enabled subsequent Singaporeans to build scaffolds for progress. “Hopefully, the up-and-coming generations will be able to build more creative, more innovative, more supportive scaffolds for succeeding generations of Singaporeans to grow and find a meaningful life in Singapore,” he said.

Covering 50 years of efforts by the Singapore government in empowering citizens through asset building, the book contains eight chapters, each discussing a specific aspect such as multiculturalism, housing, low-income families, and water policies, among others. Contributors to the book include Assistant Professor Leong Ching Ching, Co-Director, Institute of Water Policy (IWP) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS; Associate Professor Irene Ng, Deputy Head, Department of Social Work and Director, Social Service Research Centre at FASS; Professor Michael Sherraden, SR Nathan Visiting Professor at NUS; Associate Professor Hongbo Jia, a former Visitor Scholar at NUS; and Ms Zhou Yishu, formerly Research Associate at IWP. Dr Vasoo and Assoc Prof Singh each contributed a chapter as well, on investments for the social sector in tackling key social issues and how political innovations and stabilisers act as strategic assets, respectively.

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Mr Lee (right) chatting with NUS students from the Departments of Political Science and Social Work

Published by World Scientific Publishing, the book was launched at the Shaw Foundation Alumni House in a ceremony supported by FASS. The event was attended by multiple generations of Singapore’s political leaders as well as more than 250 NUS academics and students.

See media coverage.