Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the second anniversary of the Singapore Together Movement on 26 June 2021. DPM Heng made his remarks via video message.
I just attended a workshop organised by the Singapore Together Alliance for Action for Lower-Wage Workers. The Alliance is midway through a series of six workshops to brainstorm ideas, and to prototype solutions. Alliance members are working well together. They come from different backgrounds – unions, businesses, community groups, and youth leaders, bringing their perspectives and ideas to the table.
Partnerships like the Alliances for Action sit at the heart of the Singapore Together movement. Two years ago, I launched Singapore Together with the aim of partnering all Singaporeans, and encouraging them to work with one another, to create a shared future together. Our intention was to go beyond inviting feedback and suggestions, to putting ideas into action. When COVID-19 struck, we saw an outpouring of support for those on the frontline, and for fellow Singaporeans who have fallen on hard times or had difficulties adjusting. When we exited the Circuit Breaker last year, we started the Emerging Stronger Conversations, to hear from Singaporeans on how the crisis has affected them, and new ideas to take us forward. We also embarked on Alliances for Action to rally everyone to action, especially in areas that are more complex and cross-cutting.
Whether it was at the Emerging Stronger Conversations or the Alliances for Action, whether we were talking about workers or children or women, one sentiment kept coming up – Singaporeans wish for a more caring, just and equal society and are prepared to play an active part in achieving it. COVID-19, instead of throwing the Singapore Together movement off course, has strengthened our sense of purpose, and surfaced areas for more urgent action. The pandemic has convinced me that our people have the conviction and will to recover and build a brighter shared future post-COVID-19, and that this future is within our reach.
Into the Future
It has only been a year since the first Alliances for Action were formed. I am encouraged by the keen interest among Singaporeans and companies to collaborate in these partnerships. So far, 25 Alliances have been formed, including one on helping our hawkers get onto online ordering platforms that was launched last week. In the coming months, we will continue to work on the wide range of topics that have come up, and convene new Alliances to address them. There are many promising areas that we are working on collectively to build our shared future together. Let me highlight a few.
Creating new opportunities
The first area is on creating new opportunities for our people. Last month, nine economic Alliances for Action gave an update on how we can create new value – and eventually new jobs – in a fast-changing global economy. For example, the Alliance on Sustainability is leading to the creation of a global carbon exchange – Climate Impact X – to spur investment in carbon solutions and the trading of carbon credits in the region. Our Alliance on Supply Chain Digitalisation is piloting a common data infrastructure to enable the end-to-end digitalisation of supply chains. This is timely as the world undergoes a reconfiguration of trade flows and a shift to the digital economy. To further transform our economy and industries, we will identify opportunities for new Alliances.
Keeping social mobility alive
The second area is to continue to build a fairer and more caring society by reducing inequality and keeping social mobility alive. The Alliance for Lower-Wage Workers is one such effort. Another is UPLIFT, which supports disadvantaged students and their families. The UPLIFT community pilot focuses on helping students with emerging absenteeism issues. It is on track to support more than 300 students by next year. They are recruiting more family befrienders to offer friendship and assistance to the families of these children. There are other Alliances that focus on supporting the vulnerable among us, including tending to the mental well-being of our youths. And as we seek to emerge from this crisis, I hope more of you would step forward to help those around you.
Building a more inclusive society
The third area is in building a more inclusive society – one that celebrates our diversity and grows what we share in common. One important aspect is supporting greater equality between men and women. Singapore women have made tremendous progress over the years, but there is room for greater progress. Over 100 Conversations on Singapore Women’s Development have been held since September last year, to gather feedback on how we can support our women even better, and jointly create and implement ideas and solutions. These ideas generated will be consolidated into a White Paper, which will be presented to Parliament. Many of these ideas – especially those requiring shifts in mindset – will require all of us to play a part, and can only be achieved through stronger partnerships.
Building a greener Singapore
The fourth area of partnerships which I would like to highlight is environmental sustainability. Earlier this year, the Government released the Singapore Green Plan 2030 – our nation’s roadmap for sustainable development. Climate change is an existential threat of our time. It requires concerted action by each and every one of us. Nationally, we are moving towards cleaner sources of energy. Companies are transforming and working towards greater energy efficiency through innovation and technology. As citizens, you too can play a part from reducing consumption and recycling, to using energy-efficient appliances, conserving water, and taking public transportation, when we can. You can also take part in the Green Plan Conversations to share your ideas and to take action to create a greener and more liveable home.
So what have we learnt from the Singapore Together movement over the last two years? We learnt that Singaporeans share the aspirations for a more caring, just and equal society. We learnt that this desire has found stronger expression during COVID-19. We learnt that when all parts of society come together to work on something, we can very quickly put thought into action, as seen from some of our early Alliances. With what we have learnt, we will further grow our Alliances for Action in the coming year, especially in the areas of creating new jobs and opportunities, reducing inequality, making further progress on Singapore women’s development, and building a greener Singapore.
The effort to build our nation will never end. Singapore Together will be a work of a generation. But as we seek to emerge stronger from COVID-19, we must build on the bonds that have drawn us closer together during this crisis, and step forward with our passion and energy to create a better and brighter future together. Thank you.
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