Transcript of DPM Lawrence Wong’s Closing Remarks for the Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC Forward Singapore Conversation on 8 October 2022.
We are doing this as a series of conversations all over Singapore and neighbourhoods everywhere, as part of the Forward Singapore exercise. It is an exercise for us to think about how we want to chart our new way forward together in this new post-pandemic world. Because I think we all feel instinctively that it is going to be a very different world. COVID has changed and will continue to change our living environment, and we will eventually embark into a new post-COVID world, but the world is also changing for a whole range of other reasons. There is a war in Ukraine, and other geopolitical contestations going on.
We have a very different world order ahead of us in the coming years. How can we in Singapore stay relevant, stay vibrant, and ensure a good future for all of us in Singapore, for our children and for the next generation? That is what Forward Singapore is about.
In charting this new way forward, we feel it is important that everyone in Singapore has a say. You contribute to that process. You give us ideas, suggestions, and we can chart this future together; co-create the future and shape it together. All the ideas and inputs that we have across the different pillars today will be very useful in helping to shape our thinking and our recommendations on: what are the things we might want to change, what are the things we might want to do differently in Singapore, and whether there are some new ways in which we can go about doing things too.
So those are the things that we are thinking about, and your contributions and suggestions will be very useful in this process. While there are many different pillars, at the end of the day, what we are trying to achieve can be summarised in three different themes.
One, we want to create more opportunities for all Singaporeans. Young and old, rich or poor, everyone. More opportunities so that everyone can live out their aspirations, their dreams, their passions. So that people do not have to feel pigeon-holed into certain categories. There was a suggestion (in the large-group sharing session) that the education system can be opened up, to let people pursue their passions. We want to create more opportunities for everyone to be the best that they can be – aspire for your own homes, aspire for your families, and aspire to lead more sustainable lifestyles. And we have to think of new ways to transform ourselves, to keep our economy vibrant, creating good jobs, good opportunities for everyone. So, ‘opportunities’ is our first broad area of emphasis.
The second is around assurance. We also want to give more assurance to Singaporeans, assurance for all the different needs and concerns that people have. It can be cost of living today, but it is also about how to take care of the aging population, as one group (in the large-group sharing) highlighted. It is also about taking care of the poor, the vulnerable groups, the disadvantaged groups, people with disabilities. No one in Singapore should feel that they have to fend for themselves. We are all in this together, and we will progress together as one country and one people. So, the second thing that we want to achieve together is greater assurance.
And the third broad theme, listening to all of you, is, we want to be more united. We want to have a stronger sense of solidarity as one people. We want to chart this new path of Singapore together as Singaporeans, and in order for us to do so, we need a stronger sense of solidarity, unity as Singaporeans; identifying with one another, caring for one another and looking out for one another. I do not know if we can have two more days of paid leave (from one of the suggestions in the large-group sharing), but certainly part of this stronger sense of unity means having a stronger sense of who we are as a people, strengthening that sense of heritage, cultural identity as Singaporeans, regardless of race, language, or religion. Strengthening that sense of Singaporean identity, of who we are as a people. That is very important as well.
These are the three broad areas that we are looking at and all of your ideas fit into these three areas. More opportunities, more assurance, more unity and solidarity. But how to do it, how to do more in each of these three areas? We think the answer does not lie in the government alone. The government must do its part, but all of us also have a part to play. And that is why the facilitator has asked you about who are the different stakeholders that are involved. It is not just the government; it is individuals, it is the community, it is employers. So, all of us have our responsibilities to fulfil in order for us to achieve our goals. And that is why we talk about forging a new compact.
A social compact is one where we all have expectations of one another, but we also have a sense of duty, obligation, and responsibility to each other. All of us knowing that we have different roles to play, as citizens, as individuals, as members of the community, and as employers. Everyone must do their part and certainly the government will do its part too.
We hope through this series of conversations we can have a better understanding of how our social compact should be updated; what are the different roles and responsibilities different people need to have, even as the government itself will certainly do more to provide opportunities, assurance, and a stronger sense of unity for Singaporeans.
So that is my brief takeaway from all of these conversations that we are having. I once again thank all of you for contributing. Rest assured that everything that you do today is a very meaningful and important part of helping to take Singapore forward. All of you have an important role to play in shaping this new compact and shaping our future together.
Today is just one session. If you feel that you want to contribute more, by all means do so. There will be many, many more opportunities to contribute, where you can go deeper into a particular issue that you care about, where you can even get involved in doing projects, to not just contribute ideas, but to take action and solve problems together. We will continue to be in touch. There is the Forward Singapore website that you can go and check for any other updates, new events, new dialogues, new platforms, for all of you to continue your active participation in shaping our future together.
Thank you to all of you for spending your time this afternoon, and also our excellent facilitators who have been volunteering their time to be trained and to facilitate today's session. We should give all of them a big round of applause. To all of you, thank you for showing that we all care about Singapore's future, and we all want to do our part to build a better Singapore together.
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