During her state visit to the Netherlands, President Halimah Yacob drew inspiration from the Dutch and voiced her hope that Singaporeans can take learn from the example of the the Dutch’s strong spirit of innovation.
She said she was impressed with the Dutch’s ability to ‘convert adversity into opportunity’. Citing the example of how the Netherlands came up with ingenious strategies to protect itself against the waters seeing as nearly a third of the country is below sea levels, President Halimah was impressed with their commitment to safeguard their land. Over the years, the Dutch have come up with a range of solutions like canals, pumping stations, and dikes to help them tackle this problem.
She was also impressed by the Netherland’s achievement in food security, specifically in the use of vertical farming which has helped the Dutch intensify production to the point of becoming the world’s second largest exporter of food by value.
President Halimah suggested that Singaporeans follow Dutch lead to foster a culture of inquisitiveness from a young age to nurture the spirit of innovation. Specifically, she said “When children come back home, don’t ask them whether they’ve finished their homework … ask them what questions did they ask their teacher.” She stressed that it’s about encouraging children to think and then nurturing that multiplying that trait throughout society.
Her comments have elicited strong and varying reaction from netizens.
Many pointed out the irony of the President’s suggestion of nurturing inquisitiveness when the administration itself isn't too keen about the public asking too many questions:
Others pointed out the failure of the education system that nurtures ‘robots’ instead of individuals capable of critical thinking:
Some questioned the logic of her comments:
While others are still smarting from the fact that President Halimah wasn’t the president that the majority voted for: