zbCOMMA Interview with PM Lee Hsien Loong
PM Lee Hsien Loong was interviewed by student reporters from zbCOMMA, Lianhe Zaobao's Chinese news magazine for secondary school students.
Please scroll down for the English translation of the interview.
PM Lee Hsien Loong: 我希望能拍摄更多人物照，尤其是小孩子。我会把这些照片挂在hashtag #facesofsg上。我面对的挑战是，在我能拍到最自然的画面前，一般人会认出我还上前和我打招呼。如果是这种情况，我之后会问他们能否让我拍摄，而这样并非不好，只是照出来的效果就不同了。
PM Lee: 我之前开始阅读《狼厅》（Wolfhall），但没能看完。这本由希拉里·曼特尔（Hillary Mantel）撰写的历史小说以英国都铎王朝为背景，讲述主人公托马斯·克伦威尔（Thomas Cromwell）如何从亨利八世（Henry VII）的心腹，荣升至首席大臣的地位，但最终却遭国王处死，跌岩起伏的一生。历史上，克伦威尔是个心狠手辣的角色，但小说对他的刻画相对正面。相对的，中国历史人物曹操就有些不同，后世对他的历史评价有褒有贬，但《三国演义》小说里的曹操，却被刻画成典型的乱世奸雄。
阅读这本小说极富乐趣，但要时刻谨记那个历史时代的政治与人物，同时还要留意当下的政治局势，其实很考集中力！我去年底重拾《狼厅》，希望能在新年前看完，而这次我成功了！这本小说还有续集《提堂》（Bring Up the Bodies）,可能就当成下个圣诞阅读大计吧！
PM Lee: 由朱亮亮撰写的《追虹》讲述了她的家族故事，从外曾祖父南来后，如何在柔佛边佳兰生活和历经战争和动荡的年代。朱亮亮本身也在那里长大。这本书也叙述了她父母的一生。朱亮亮的父亲从中国来到本地，娶了她的母亲。但和当年许多理想主义的华校生一样，他后来成为左翼份子。他在上世纪50年代把家人带回中国。不幸的，他后来在中国过世。朱亮亮的母亲经过许多波折，才让家人离开中国到香港，辗转回到新加坡。这是一本触动人心的小说，读者能从中了解更多有关新加坡的历史。这本书有中英版本，你可以两本都读，或选择其一！
PM Lee: 新加坡需要优秀的记者和制作严谨的报纸及媒体，包括华文媒体。媒体行业正在经历巨变，前景充满挑战。我最近参观报业控股时也走访了刚翻新过的华文媒体集团（CMG）。CMG很努力地制作能够吸引大众，包括年轻人的内容。我希望通讯员好好珍惜他们在报馆的时光，多多学习。
PM Lee: 让我谈一谈在2018年希望取得进展的三个项目。
首先是全国身份认证（National Digital Identity，简称NDI）项目。我们已经有电子政府密码（SingPass）。NDI将改善和扩大电子政府密码的服务范围，让人民能与政府部门和企业安全地进行在线交易。例如，当你设立新的银行账户或申请信用卡时，你可以使用NDI让银行通过政府的数据库，以查询你的地址和收入。
PM Lee: 人工智能的发展一日千里，如果你对IT领域感兴趣，不妨考虑专修人工智能的相关科目。即使你所找的工作属于其他专业领域，我相信人工智也会是你工作的一部分，比如数据分析、程序自动化、机器代劳日常工作等。你必须要掌握这些技能，才能提升你在所属专业领域的价值。无论怎样，年轻人的头脑和心灵都要保持开放，即使从学校毕业了，不代表学习生涯就此打住。
PM Lee: 过去几年，我一直在练皮拉提（Pilates）。其实，基本动作我都掌握了，然而每次我以为自己学会了，教练便会给我示范更新、更高难度的动作。我希望今年自己能在皮拉提方面继续有所提升，因为人生在世，学无止境！
PM Lee: 新加坡今年出任亚细安轮值主席国。亚细安这个组织对我们而言是重要的，作为组织的成员国之一，新加坡能在国际舞台上发出更大的声音。
zbCOMMA: You often post your own photos on your Facebook Page. What will you focus on in your photography for the new year?
PM Lee Hsien Loong: I hope to catch more pictures of people, especially children. I have a hashtag #facesofsg, which I use for posts of these photos. My difficulty is people often recognise me and greet me, before I can get a candid shot of them! When that happens I ask them to pose for me, which is nice too, but not quite the same.
zbCOMMA: Do you still have time to read your favourite books amidst your busy schedule? If you do, which book will you most like to finish reading this year?
PM Lee: I started reading "Wolf Hall" some time ago, but did not finish it. It is a historical novel by Hilary Mantel about Elizabethan England, in the reign of Henry VIII. The protagonist is Thomas Cromwell, who became the Secretary (effectively chief minister) to the King, but in the end was beheaded by the King. The historical Cromwell was a ruthless and scheming character, but the novel presents him in a sympathetic light. Perhaps the opposite of Cao Cao – the historical figure was positive, but in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms he is the archetypical ruthless and cunning warlord.
"Wolf Hall" is very good reading, but keeping track of all the characters and politics of those times (while not forgetting about today’s real life characters and politics) needs concentration. I am just starting again at the beginning and hope to make it through this time. (P.S. – made it!) Then there is a sequel – "Bring Up the Bodies". That maybe for next Christmas!
zbCOMMA: Which books would you recommend to our readers?
PM Lee: "Chasing Rainbows" (追虹) by Choo Lian Liang, tells the story of her family, starting with her maternal great-grandfather who came from China and settled in Pengerang (in Johor), where the family prospered and lived through war and upheaval, and where Lian Liang herself grew up.
It is a beautifully told story, and the reader will learn a lot about our history along the way. The book is published in both Chinese and English editions, so you can read either, or both!
zbCOMMA: To accelerate digitalisation and deliver more premium content, the SPH Chinese Media Group has recently undergone a major restructuring exercise. What are your thoughts on the outlook of the local newspaper scene? What are your hopes for the restructured Chinese Media Group?
PM Lee: Singapore will always need good journalists and well produced newspapers and media, including Chinese media. The media industry is experiencing rapid change, and the business is tough. When I visited SPH recently, I dropped in on the Chinese Media Group, who had just moved into their new home. The CMG have worked hard to produce interactive content to appeal to a wider range of readers, include the younger ones reading Comma. I hope our student reporters will take the opportunity to learn as much as they can while they are attached to CMG.
zbCOMMA: In your 2017 National Day Rally, you spoke at length about building a Smart Nation and a cashless society. Which areas do you hope we will make progress on in 2018?
PM Lee: Let me talk about three projects which we hope will make progress in 2018.
First, the National Digital Identity (NDI) project. We already have SingPass. The NDI will improve and expand on SingPass, to let citizens transact online securely with Government departments and private businesses. For example when you set up a new bank account or apply for a credit card, you can use your NDI to allow the bank to digitally check your address and income with the Government database.
Next, e-payments. PayNow offers a convenient way for one person to pay another person. The next step is PayNow for Business, to enable customers to pay businesses, and businesses to pay one another. We are also unifying the QR code standards. I hope this will encourage more small businesses to go cashless. Then when you buy food in hawker centres or take a taxi ride, you can pay using your handphone, just like people already do in China.
Finally, we are using digital technology to improve public transport. One trial underway is on the use of autonomous vehicles. Autonomous vehicles combine several maturing technologies, such as sensors and artificial intelligence, in a practical and useful way. Through the trials, we will learn more about these technologies, and how to overcome the problems deploying autonomous vehicles for day to day use.
zbCOMMA: What sort of progress do you expect in artificial intelligence (AI) in the coming years? How can Singaporeans, especially the younger generation who are about to enter the workforce, prepare for the rise of AI?
PM Lee: Progress in AI has been very rapid. If you are interested in an IT career, you might consider specialising in AI. For those heading for other careers, AI will very likely become a standard tool in your professions – to analyse data, to automate procedures, to do routine tasks. You will need to master the tools, in order to be up to the mark in your fields.
Either way, keep an open mind and open heart. Learning does not stop when you complete your studies. AI will continue to advance throughout your working life, so you should keep abreast of developments and stay at the leading edge. But remember not everyone may move as fast as you do, so look around to see who needs some help and give them a helping hand.
zbCOMMA: The government has been promoting active aging, and seniors are able to use SkillsFuture credits for classes. In the new year, what new skills do you hope to master?
PM Lee: For the last few years, I have been learning Pilates. I have mastered the basic exercises, but each time I think I have got it, my instructor shows me some new and harder thing to do. I hope this year I will continue to make progress at Pilates. There is no end to learning, as long as one is alive!
zbCOMMA: In 2018, Singapore will be chairing ASEAN for the fourth time. How should young Singaporeans view ASEAN? How can we help to improve intra-regional connectivity?
PM Lee: It is Singapore’s turn to Chair ASEAN this year. ASEAN is important to us: by belonging to the group, Singapore gets a stronger voice in the world. ASEAN countries offer Singaporeans many opportunities: to work there, to set up businesses there, or to trade with them. I hope young people will learn about our ASEAN partners, travel there, pick up their languages, and become familiar with their cultures. You will find it very valuable later in life.
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