Talking about Singapore's future: LET'S TALK ABOUT...

What fresh ideas have emerged?

Social entrepreneur Joe Tan’s altruistic music festival idea is already in the works.
Social entrepreneur Joe Tan’s altruistic music festival idea is already in the works.
Teacher Aysel Ong, a dialogue participant, said there was debate about issuing plastic bags at supermarkets.
Teacher Aysel Ong, a dialogue participant, said there was debate about issuing plastic bags at supermarkets.
Dr Siti Maryam Yaakub feels that the organisers have ensured diversity among dialogue participants.
Dr Siti Maryam Yaakub feels that the organisers have ensured diversity among dialogue participants.
Ms Phyllis Hui says citizens should encourage those who are afraid to speak up and voice their views.
Ms Phyllis Hui says citizens should encourage those who are afraid to speak up and voice their views.
Ms Shermaine Ng feels that some people still have a psychological barrier to taking part in the dialogues.
Ms Shermaine Ng feels that some people still have a psychological barrier to taking part in the dialogues.
Dr Ang Kiam Wee believes that the bureaucratic nature of the dialogues causes participants to limit the issues they raise.
Dr Ang Kiam Wee believes that the bureaucratic nature of the dialogues causes participants to limit the issues they raise.

Already, at their half-way point, the SGfuture dialogues have generated ideas aplenty. These range from a campaign to carry out neighbourhood "random acts of kindness" to promote positive psychology, to subsidising young hawkers and to making recycling more accessible.

Some are already in the works, such as a Music For A Cause festival that encourages giving and volunteerism through music.

That was the idea of ex-army regular Joe Tan, 33, who runs social enterprise Love Action Project.

He took part in the first SGfuture engagement session on Nov 29, last year, and was subsequently invited by the National Youth Council to host a session as a springboard for his project.

He tells The Sunday Times: "The demographic was very broad - from secondary school student leaders to business owners. We did that because the event will encompass volunteers, performing artists, sponsors and require government support.

"Parliamentary Secretary (Culture, Community and Youth) Baey Yam Keng was there as well.

"The discussion was really broad, and while this holds the risk of having too diverse conversations, the idea managed to take shape."

Larger-scale ideas that may require more support from the Government include a mobile pop-up theme park that roams neighbourhoods, akin to a pasar malam (night market).

And there have also been suggestions to allow live music at neighbourhood hawker centres to make them more vibrant and transform them into more than just places to eat; and subsidising young hawkers to help more youth pick up the trade.

Some ideas have also stirred debate, like one to stop issuing plastic bags at supermarkets. Teacher Aysel Ong, 34, says: "Some were for promoting the use of recycling bags, but someone else pointed out that if we don't get plastic bags from supermarkets, how do we contain our trash at home?"

At the 18 dialogue sessions under the theme "A Cleaner, Greener and Smarter Home" last month, participants spoke about how better urban design and small lifestyle changes can contribute to a more sustainable future.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong tells The Sunday Times that participants discussed how homes could be better designed, with features to make recycling more accessible and intuitive.

Young people attending also chimed in with ideas on how to make use of technology and mobile applications to create green solutions.

He says: "Some of the suggestions are practical and easily doable. So we don't always have to chase down 'big ideas'. Small changes implemented well can have a significant impact over time."

Walter Sim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2016, with the headline 'What fresh ideas have emerged?'. Print Edition | Subscribe