Defining Ourselves: Our Singapore Conversation – A Look Into The Crystal Ball
While most of my peers spent Tuesday night out with friends on dinner appointments or catching the latest blockbusters, I had an eventful evening imagining along with others what I want my Singapore to be like in 2030. This session was a wrap-up by The Labour Movement of their 3-month long endeavour to gather thoughts on issues close to hearts of Singaporeans and their hopes for Singapore 2030. Over 100 others were present and from what I gathered, they represented various communities such as families, young working adults, unions, active agers and youths. The foundation for the rich conversations were a result of 20 prior sessions with over 650 participants and I was very encouraged to hear that the Singapore I envision is much like what the others hope for. I enjoyed the perceptive opinions of many who attended and laughed along when more mature participants shared candid stories and anecdotes. Although there were differing views on certain issues, participants young and old were generally on the same page of where Singapore should head towards to make it a home for our future generations. For those who did not have the pleasure to attend, I thought to share a quick summary through my eyes of what was presented.
An educated workforce is foreseen to be central to Singapore’s success in the coming years and henceforth schools will continue to play an extremely important role. There were calls from many to place less emphasis on academics and school rankings and concentrate on a more holistic approach to education. Participants felt that the education system also needs to inculcate values in today’s youth where a person is not judged by grades or academic endeavours but by their character.
Everything Within A Hour
As Singapore becomes an increasingly fast-paced society where efficiency is key, there were calls for a move towards a cut-down in time wastage for public transport systems and medical services. The proponents of this move felt that with more time on their hands, they would be able to have more quality time with their families and friends. Another group, while agreeing that some areas can be made more efficient, felt that there are just some things in life that cannot be rushed – for instance creativity. This group also felt that quality cannot be compromised just for time-saving and that waiting time can still be maximised by being productive during wait times. Ultimately, they felt that patience is a virtue often forgotten and that it’s a mentality change that needs to be advocated instead.
Respect for All working People
On our path to being a kinder and more gracious society, Singaporeans should respect and value the contributions of all workers regardless of age, nationality, wage or job scope. Many felt that there needed to be a mindset shift where low wage, elderly or menial job-holders are not looked down upon or shunned but recognised as every job has its place in societ. A way for Singaporeans to show respect is a simple word of thanks, please, welcome etc.
Making Singapore A Pro-Family, Pro-Living Singapore
Participants were especially passionate when discussing ways to make Singapore a pro-family and pro-living society with many suggesting that there be better infrastructure in place to support the family unit – be it more amenities for old folks, childcare centres etc. It was highlighted that employers played a big part in this mentality shift towards better work-life balance because many employees still face difficulties when putting their families first. The general sentiment was that the work place should be an inclusive and tolerant one while parents should not stop putting their families first.
An Affordable Singapore
With the rising cost of living and a high inflation, a big concern on everyone’s minds was how we can strive for an affordable Singapore where the basic needs -clothing, food, housing, transport, healthcare and education of every Singaporean would be met. Participants voiced concerns over the income disparity between the rich and the poor and hoped to see further re-distribution of wealth (through taxation and subsidies) to reach an equitable future for all. Others aspired to move beyond basic needs towards discretionary wants and wanted to see Singaporeans live prosperously if they can afford it.
Defining Ourselves – The Singaporean Identity & Our Values
The “Gotong Royong” spirit – loosely defined as the kampong spirit is a unique trait of Singapore that participants were keen to see “revived”. Being a melting pot of culture and heritage, it’s imperative to understand more about each race’s culture and to define what it truly means to be a Singaporean. The call is for Singaporeans not to chase blindly after materialistic wealth but to work towards embodying an empathetic society with a rich culture and heritage that is passed on through the generations. Afterall, it’s the Singapore experiences that make us who we are.
The night ended on a high note with biscuits reminiscent of childhood snacks being handed out as take-home gifts. This, I felt, really brought home the point that we were banding together, pulling our collective thoughts so that Singapore 2030 will be one we’re proud to call home. Please feel free to share with us your thoughts on the issues brought up at the comments section below!