Photo of Chan Chun Sing from Straits Times Kevin Lim

In his speech at the graduation ceremony at Temasek Polytechnic today (May 3), Minister of State Chan Chun Sing told students to not search for meaning in life and instead “give meaning” to the things they do:

“Instead of searching for meaning in all that they do in life, it is more important for students to give meaning to their pursuits.”

The former army general who has never worked a day in the private sector, then wax lyrical about life and love lessons:

“In this world, we have many choices in life… we are often searching for something that will give us meaning. But we will often fail and then we will be disappointed. Change your perspective when it comes to achieving goals in life, and think about how you can do justice to the jobs that you do instead of embarking on a search for the perfect job. This is like a common question in relationships: Is it more important to marry the woman you love, or to love the woman you marry?”

Minister Chan Chun Sing then used an isolated case of a diploma holder who went to work in Indonesia, to tell students to go overseas for jobs:

“This is the kind of spirit that we want… you go to a new place, you don’t know the people, you don’t know the culture; but with the skill sets that you have acquired you learn to adapt – and you will survive and excel.”

The 2017’s fresh diploma holders are likely to be the first batch to join the worst ever job market in recent years. Singapore’s unemployment rate just hit 3.2%, a 7-year high, and the total job losses in the recent quarter of 2017 amounted to 8,500, a 14-year-high. In his May Day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed helplessness and commented that the unemployment figures will “creep up further”. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say however went into denial mode, claiming there are no shortage of jobs and only Singaporeans having a shortage of skills.