DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Opening of Shaping Hearts 2021

DPM Heng Swee Keat | 13 November 2021

Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Opening of Shaping Hearts 2021 on 13 November 2021.

Dr Koh Poh Koon
Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Manpower

Mr Desmond Choo
Mayor of North East District

Ms Yeo Wan Ling
Vice Chairman, North East CDC

Ladies and Gentlemen,

SG Together and an Inclusive North East

I am very happy that we can be here together for the inaugural Shaping Hearts 2021. Following two iterations in 2019 and 2020, the third round of the North East Inclusive Arts Festival is now bigger and better. When North East CDC first told me about their idea for an inclusive arts festival, they shared with me that their vision is to create a platform for persons with disabilities to earn a dignified and meaningful living, and to nurture a more inclusive community. I was all for this good idea and most happy to support it. 

In fact, that was the same year that, at the national level, I launched the Singapore Together movement. The Singapore Together movement is built on the belief that every one of us has something to contribute, and that when we each take responsibility and act on the things we care about, together we create a better home for all of us. Among the things that Singaporeans are passionate about, many care deeply about building an even more caring, gracious, kind and cohesive community.  

So when we launched “Art Market @ North East” that year, it felt like the Singapore Together spirit bursting to life in art and colour.  I remember we had a giant feature centrepiece made out of the many different artworks. You could see the unique style of each artist – yet their togetherness projected a powerful new message of vitality and mutual support amid our diversity.  

SG Together and the CDCs in COVID-19 Times

A few months after that launch, our community, like others around the world, received an unanticipated and severe shock – COVID-19. During the pandemic, we saw how the SG Together spirit came alive and the country banded together. The Government came out strongly with measures to keep our people safe, as well as support packages for businesses and families. Social Service Agencies, ground-up groups and Singaporeans kept a lookout for one another.

I’m glad to see the CDCs continue to play a valuable role in these times – forging partnerships and uniting people for common causes, giving support, and continuing to build a sense of togetherness and community. One vital role the CDCs have played is through the CDC Vouchers Scheme, which I launched last year to defray cost of living for lower-income households. The first two tranches for low-income households were well received, and I announced in Budget this year that CDC Vouchers would go out to every Singapore household. Last month, the CDCs announced that this next tranche will be digital, and will be rolled out soon. Those who are less digitally savvy can approach the CCs for assistance on the use of the e-vouchers. Ambassadors from the CDCs and the SG Digital Office are also helping merchants digitalise and learn the app for processing these vouchers. 

For its part, North East CDC has implemented further programmes to support and celebrate the North East community, such as WeCare, Project Refresh, Heart Bakers and the recently introduced Student Transport Subsidy.  And of course, they continue to show their heart with today’s Shaping Hearts 2021. Throughout these challenging times, all of you here have continued to create, 
to express your hopes and aspirations. And all of us have awaited eagerly this chance to embrace your creations. 

Mayor Desmond shared with me that this year’s Inclusive Arts Festival is taking inclusiveness to greater levels. We are expanding beyond visual arts to music and dance. We have more artists than ever taking part. North East CDC has designed a one-stop digital shop to make it easier for members of the public to purchase artworks. The proceeds go directly to the artists and Social Service Agencies. I am especially touched that, this year, we also celebrate caregivers.  It has been a challenging time for caregivers too, whose contributions often goes unseen. I hope you will show your support and encouragement for our caregivers. 

My sincere thanks indeed to Mayor Desmond and the NECDC team for inviting me to join you today, and to all our artists, caregivers, and supporters for making today possible. Every one of us has a role to play. No matter the challenges we face, I hope we never stop creating or contributing, and we always celebrate one another. I am very much looking forward to seeing and hearing your works and learning about your personal stories. 

With that, I would like to announce Shaping Hearts 2021 officially open. Thank you.