Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations
“How can we foster greater inclusivity as a community and as a nation?”
As part of an ongoing series, the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESC) on 5 and 9 September gathered 44 and 48 Singaporeans respectively, sharing their perspectives on what they envision for Singapore’s future.
Participants shared how COVID-19 has opened more opportunities for us to reimagine, rebuild and emerge stronger, closing the digital divide among Singaporeans, and how more Singaporeans are embracing the new norm. Some were also glad that the platform brought Singaporeans from diverse backgrounds, ages, and viewpoints together – to listen to what each other has to share.
Dong Yong Khiang, mission pastor, believes that we should learn from each other to break stereotypes. “It’s when we’re more broad-minded, can the different generations work better together,” he says.
Question: What do you feel most encouraged by, despite the current crisis?
“I’m encouraged by the foresight of our government to prepare for a rather long ‘wet-weather programme’ for the nation and to assure everyone, including our forgotten migrant workers, that they will be cared for.
More importantly, I’m incredibly encouraged because I see that many of the younger participants at today’s session are already into volunteerism. They have the energy and idealism to really make a positive difference. But we need more Singaporeans onboard.
We should be focused on long-term sustainable engagement and we can start with our schools – allowing student leaders to choose a cause they feel strongly towards and determine how best to affect positive change. Teachers and trainers can chaperone as well as guide them throughout the journey.
Hopefully, this will get more people looking out for the vulnerable, poor, and needy in Singapore, and eventually in our neighbouring countries too. Some of us are already reaching out beyond our shores to help our neighbours, and I’m hopeful that more Singaporeans will take action as well.”
“Tomorrow is an opportunity to be a little better than today, so let’s always seize it,” encourages Ramakrishnan Karthigayan, a manager.
Question: How can we encourage more Singaporeans to get involved?
“Because of the current pandemic, we’ve already seen that Singaporeans are willing to get involved with making things better. I’m appreciative of the individuals who took ownership of problems and came up with their own solutions such as distributing masks, sanitisers, translations resources for medical workers, and even providing IT devices for lower income household students.
There are two ways that we can be more involved and get more people involved. On our own, we can hold ‘difficult’ conversations on social issues with those within our circles. Through these conversations, we should also seek to increase our understanding of issues and worldviews we don’t know enough of, discuss the things we disagree on and ideas that can make Singapore and Singaporeans better.
As a larger collective, we already see that Singaporeans want to contribute meaningfully to society and engage themselves with initiatives that create social value. They are joining various groups and initiatives to act on issues that matter most to them.
We could get those who have started effective ground-up initiatives and community-led projects to lead some of the focus group sessions like today’s or reach out to their network so that more voices can be heard. Hopefully, putting fellow Singaporeans who are making a difference in the spotlight will encourage more Singaporeans to step up and do the same.”
For Shabirin Ariffin, adjunct lecturer and freelance consultant, embracing change makes a positive experience. “It’s not always comfortable, but continuous learning makes our mindset more resilient,” he says.
Question: What’s your key takeaway from today’s session?
“Communication is key. That’s how we get support from our family, neighbours and friends to remain positive and motivated especially during tough times. Being able to communicate our thoughts and feelings is also important.
For example, communicating difficulties faced in adopting new technology. We can then try to understand the pain points and help with finding ideal solutions or motivations to deviate from these difficulties.
This is the same on a larger scale. Sessions like today’s allow for open communication between people from all ages. And each open, respectful conversation we have together that is aimed at addressing tough issues is a step towards making stark decisions for change to happen.
In fact, we need more Singaporeans to join in these conversations, to share and to listen. We already have these open lines of communication, and it doesn’t matter how old you are or what your background is, you can play a part. Plus, you might be surprised by how much you can learn when you remove your ‘walls, shields, guards’ and have a simple conversation with someone who’s vastly different from you.”
Sharmane Tan, consultant, government and public affairs, says: “We need more non-judgmental conversations to remain open and progressive.”
Question: What do you hope for Singapore’s future?
“I hope that we continue to be empathetic, to empower and motivate one another to overcome obstacles together.
I was energised and comforted to know that despite circumstances, people would still like to help one another. The empathy shown as people learnt about others who are in a worse situation than them, like the help rendered to migrant workers, is proof that we’re already headed in the right direction.
We also could use more sessions like today’s. Discussing issues and policies together as one, is how we can progress better as a nation. When more people see that their views are being heard and implemented, they would be more willing to come together and join these conversations.
Tapping on schools and businesses is also a great way to empower and motivate each other. From nurturing a collaborative mindset to increasing the importance of social responsibility, there’s so much more we can do to ensure a better future for us all.”
Have your say as you share your hopes and aspirations for Singapore. Express your interest in being a part of the upcoming ESC sessions at https://go.gov.sg/ESConversations