Manpower development and nation-building : Singapore's experience
Ma, Poh How.
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Manpower is a basic resource. It is the indispensable means of converting other resources to mankind '.s use and benefit. As a process· of increasing the knowledge, skills, and dexterity of the people of a society, manpower development is the most fundamental means of enabling a nation to acquire the capacities to bring about its desired future state of affairs -- a more mighty and wealthier nation. Singapore's brief nation-building history justifies the emphasis accorded to the importance of good quality human resources and manpower development in economic and socio-political developments. As a tiny island-state with a poor natural resource base, Singapore's long-term survival and development depend ultimately upon the quality and the creative energy of her people. In line with the nation-building goals and strategies of the Republic, as conditioned by her objective setting, Singapore's basic manpower development premise has been one of "quality and not quantity". While implementing the "stop-at-two" family planning and population control programs and the relevant immigration measures to guard against the prospect of a "population explosion", the Government has energetically fostered various educational programs, including vocational training schemes, adult education programs, the youth movement, and the national service scheme to improve the quality of Singaporeans. There is no denying that some of the manpower development measures taken by the Government have imposed sacrifice and hardship on the Singapore citizens. Nevertheless, they are the basic conditions for the island-Republic's long-term survival and development. It is essential iii to note that Singapore's continuing existence and phenomenal-success are largely attributable to the will, capacities and efforts of her leaders and people. In the final analysis, the wealth and the strength of a nation are based upon its ability to conserve, develop and utilize effectively the innate capacities of its people. This is true not only of Singapore but necessarily of other developing nations. It can be safely presumed that since most developing states' concerns about the quality of their human resources and the progress of their nation-building work are inextricably bound to those about the quantity of their population, the "quality and not quantity" motto of Singapore's manpower development programs can also be their guiding principle.