Politics and policy must always keep us together: Janadas Devan
The words “together” and “cohesive” have been words that have been repeated to death the past few weeks.
From discussion about 4th Generation leaders to a social capital survey by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) revealed a sharp social division based on class, instead of race or religion.
At yesterday’s IPS’ Singapore Perspectives 2018 Conference, aptly titled “Together”, the Director of IPS, Janadas Devan, opened the conference by highlighting how divisions can fracture our society.
In his speech he used the example of how Brexit in the UK and the 2016 US Presidential elections can happen in Singapore, in terms of the divisions between the rich and the poor; between classes.
But it was his conclusion that made an important point for the entire conference.
“For it seems to me self-evident that unless we take great pains to remain together our society too can fracture. This is why I believe Government should be the place where people are brought together. Why I believe our politics and policy must always keep their eyes trained on keeping us together. ” – Janadas Devan
He says that government policies should always be focused on keeping the people together.
In fact, one of the results of the IPS survey showed that those who study in elite schools have few links to those in non-elite school, and vice versa.
This, the researchers said was “troubling…because it suggests that Singapore is increasingly stratified along class lines.
Fortunately, what we’ve seen in some of the policies in the past few years are policies and initiatives that help build communities, social cohesion and interaction amongst different race and religion.
Be it policies and schemes to help with sports, volunteerism and allowing more places for pupils with no “affiliation priority” in schools with a certain “elite” status will help to build more social cohesion.
The government also introduced Neighbourhood Committees and Residents’ Committees to promote active citizenry and neighbourliness
But beyond just government policies, it is just as important that society; the people, come together to make things work.
There are activities out there that allow people of different backgrounds to socialise and mix across different social classes.
One of the IPS survey researchers said in an interview with Straits Times:
“What starts as a person-to-person relationship leads to benefiting the larger society. We build a society, one tie at a time” – Professor Vincent Chua