DESPITE the Government's best intentions and efforts to help Singaporeans, there are limitations to what it can do in a free and open society here, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

This was the running theme in his replies to questions on national issues during a dialogue with Jalan Besar residents.

Their concerns ranged from growing materialism to flexible employment for elderly workers.

One grassroots volunteer was worried that Singapore's social fabric was starting to loosen, with rising materialism and less emphasis on the family.

He observed that couples were marrying and having children later, and said there was a growing gap between adult children and their elderly parents which necessitates laws such as the Maintenance of Parents Act.

Mr Shanmugam replied: 'Can we force people to get married, in a free and open society? Can we force people to have children?

Limits to what Govt can do