Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations
“How do we create an inclusive, equal opportunity society for all Singaporeans?”
As a part of the ongoing series, the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESC) on 12 September saw 60 Singaporeans coming together to share their thoughts and learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic, and their reflections on how we could create an inclusive, equal opportunity society for all.
From sustainability, social support, national values and being a kinder society to eliminating racial divides, the participants showed a keen desire to create a more inclusive, forward looking society.
It was heartening to hear all the practical ideas on strengthening our social fabric including helping marginalised and disadvantaged communities. Their interest in helping those in need is a reminder for us to continue creating an empathetic society where we all look out for each other. Together, our conversations will lead to action.
Tanya Chua, regional sales manager, says: “Micro volunteering activities by regular people have shown that we are a nation that truly cares”
Question: How may Singapore become a more caring and cohesive society?
“A lot depends on what our society views as important. Mainstream media should praise monetary achievements less and praise altruistic qualities and actions more.
This will encourage each one of us to give back through smaller, everyday acts. So that someone who might be having a bad day gets a little encouragement to go on and fight another day.
This may then ripple across the community, even to other areas like supporting local businesses.
Over time, these will unite us, and the experience will make us resilient because we all know, it gets better.”
According to Punit Oza, executive director, a flourishing economy and society are only possible if we work towards carrying everyone along to create a better future together.
Question: How can more Singaporeans get involved in creating a better future?
“The best way is to appeal to individual skill sets. If a Singaporean is a lawyer by profession, a pro-bono project involving legal assistance should be the best way to harness his skills.
No society can flourish, unless the entire society is able to do so together. Helping society is not just for others but also for ourselves. The younger generation must realise that in order to build long-term prosperity, they will need to work for a wider welfare of the entire society. Small or big, these actions should be an integral part of our lives.
Our previous generations worked with that spirit and the results are for all to see.”
When reflecting on values of grit and resilience, Keely Cheong, senior programme manager, says that a country can only be as resilient as its people.
Question: How do we create a culture of resilience and care?
“Culture building is always challenging, but it is good that we have started the journey by identifying key values like empathy, resilience and grit, that we want to see in society.
A useful approach is starting with families – parents are children’s biggest role models. The next circle will be schools – so teachers can foster these values for the next generation of Singaporeans.
Sometimes the problem doesn’t lie with the system, but how the system is being interpreted and used. So clarity of communication and the right channel for communication is important.
If positive reinforcement happens in the wider society, then these behaviours and values will be practiced in the community.”
“I hope that with the diversity of voices, and ways of seeing success, every person finds their rightful sense of belonging in our country”, says Khee Shihui, programme director.
Question: How can we play our part in creating a version of Singapore that we would like to see?
“I believe in the power of individuals to make a difference – whether it is someone stepping up to organise community helping initiatives and mutual aid or speaking up to create change within the institutions that they are from or rallying others to find opportunities to encourage dialogue on shifting policy.
I feel concerned about the groups and communities in Singapore that may have been overlooked, as we struggled individually and collectively to cope with the new normal.
Along with doing our bit and offering assistance to the lesser privileged amongst us, I think it’s important to be mindful of whether the ways in which we provide assistance is respectful or dignifying towards those who receive it.
Going forward, we could do more to explore our attitudes regarding marginalised communities, and the level of trust we show in them to be able to make wise choices for themselves, when we offer them our support.”
Join the ESC to share your hopes on the kind of Singapore you aspire to have. There are upcoming ESCs in Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. If you know of family members and friends who are keen to sign up for these sessions, they can sign up now at https://go.gov.sg/ESConversations