Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations
“Is listening the key to a stronger nation?”
Continuing with an ongoing series, the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESC) on 23 and 26 September gathered 50 and 62 Singaporeans respectively to share their hopes and concerns about our present and the future.
The discussions covered topics including Singapore’s position as an international business hub, amendments to our education system, and understanding the fundamental changes to workplaces and environments in 2020 and beyond. Participants believed that by being better listeners, we can work towards a more inclusive and positive society.
Phoebe Rae Tan, a marketing and communications co-lead, says: “Valuing care work is essential to building a more empathetic society.” She would also like social and environmental indicators to be included in valuing progress.
Question: What would you say to the younger generation today, to inspire them to help build a better tomorrow?
“Your voice matters, you matter. Don’t underestimate the power you have.
As a young person entering the working world during a global pandemic, I want to help shape the direction we move towards post-COVID19.
I would describe the sessions as empowering because I felt my views were valued, which is what democracy is meant to be.
Media literacy is one thing, but as social media grows more political, I think being able to discern is extremely important for ourselves as citizens and for the protection of the fabric of our society.”
Carol Loi, a consultancy founder, believes that when families are strong, the nation can be strong. She also encourages more diverse voices to contribute.
Question: What did you feel most passionate about during the pandemic?
“There are a lot of stress points in families; not just relating to work or school, but also in terms of relationships as well as mental health. All that needs to be looked into and addressed.
There are resources available, but many families may not know who to turn to in their hour of need. I believe that a lot more synergy can be achieved when the people, public and private sectors come together.
We must provide opportunities for change makers to come together to explore collaboration and ideas for a better future.”
Healthier dialogues are what Cherie Chong, deputy head of corporate communications, would like to see. “A healthier online dialogue can bring more effective solutions to the table,” she says.
Question: can we get better by being better listeners?
“There is a saying that goes “vision is not a one-way directive but an ongoing conversation”. As one of the new generations who have benefited from the strong foundation and values laid by our forefathers, there is a need to contribute and take greater ownership of a shared vision.
When we are in a crisis, there are many times we may not have the solutions or answers to the situations we are in. What matters most is that we are committed to figuring out the crisis together and that we don’t leave anyone behind.
The pandemic brought out many ground-up initiatives that were championed by everyday Singaporeans which is evidence that we can be a caring society that puts the needs of others above our own.
It is really heartening to see many of us taking an interest in issues of social justice, advocating for the vulnerable or voiceless.”
Lawyer Jennifer Lim Wei Zhen says: “Every little act goes a long way to making someone’s day a little better!”
Question: How may Singapore become a more caring, cohesive and resilient society?
“The path to becoming a better society starts when we begin to look at the world beyond us and seeing others as fellow human beings we can learn from.
Sitting in on the ESC conversations, it was fascinating to hear proposals to help people in the gig economy such as freelance artists, and learn about the struggles they faced in Covid-19.
Wishing to dispel any Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) sentiments, a group of friends and I came together to work on Welcome In My Backyard (WIMBY) to make migrant workers feel welcome and promote inclusion, while transforming the community’s perceptions towards migrant workers.
To develop a post-COVID society, it would be good to have focus groups and working groups pertaining to different aspects of our society to sound out ideas and work on proposals for a better Singapore.”
For student Ong Sze Ann, the society needs to build each other up to stay strong. “Conversations predicate increased awareness of society’s concerns and lay the foundation for actions,” she says.
Question: What’s one memorable lesson you’ve learned from the pandemic?
“As a student myself, I was inclined to understand the plight of students from lower income families with respect to the pandemic: the lack of access to a stable internet connection, the need to share a single laptop amongst many siblings who are also schooling, or even the inability to afford a laptop.
Treatment of the migrant community was an issue I paid close attention to. I believe that we can treat non-locals with empathy and respect even though they might not be citizens of our country.
In response to my increased awareness of the issues, I have taken to volunteer tutoring to contribute, at least in some way to help the less fortunate.
You don’t necessarily need big actions to get going, it could be as straightforward as starting these conversations back at home or with friends who hold a different perspective.”
Join the ESC to share your hopes on the kind of Singapore you aspire to have. There are upcoming ESCs in Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. If you know of family members and friends who are keen to sign up for these sessions, they can sign up now at https://go.gov.sg/ESConversations