Building a united S'pore to overcome challenges

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu laid out her ministry's three key thrusts for 2017 in an interview earlier this week. One of them is to make Singapore a compassionate and inclusive society.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu laid out her ministry's three key thrusts for 2017 in an interview earlier this week. One of them is to make Singapore a compassionate and inclusive society.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

MCCY aims to forge a cohesive, inclusive S'pore, says Grace Fu ahead of budget debate

Building up trust and goodwill between individuals and communities so that Singapore becomes more cohesive and resilient.

That is one of the top priorities for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) this year, its minister Grace Fu said in an interview earlier this week.

She laid out her ministry's three key thrusts for 2017, all centred on uniting Singaporeans to help the nation weather challenges that range from the threat of terrorism to a turbulent global environment.

The year ahead looks set to be a tough one, she noted, citing upheavals such as Britain's exit from the European Union.

And Singapore - which she calls "a small sampan in a big ocean" - is also going through a challenging period of economic restructuring.

BECOMING PIONEERS

It has given us confidence... that we too can be, in a way, the pioneering generation for the next 50 years.

MS GRACE FU, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth

That is why her ministry will step up efforts to forge a cohesive society, among other initiatives, Ms Fu said, dropping hints on new developments that MCCY will announce during the debate on its budget.

It plans to step up its partnerships with religious organisations to boost community resilience, and organise visits to arts and heritage institutions for students of the same cohort to help them understand how Singapore has evolved as a nation.

The ministry will also introduce more sports academies and sports clubs in the coming year, she added.

A second priority is to make Singapore a compassionate and inclusive society, said Ms Fu, adding that she would speak about SG Cares, a national movement to promote volunteerism, at the upcoming debate.

The third area of focus is building confidence in the nation. The process of setting up a Founders' Memorial has sparked discussions among Singaporeans on the values that went into the past five decades of nation building, such as determination and resilience, said Ms Fu.

"It has given us confidence... that we too can be, in a way, the pioneering generation for the next 50 years," she said. "So we intend to use that to engage Singaporeans."

A comprehensive heritage plan will be drawn up so that Singaporeans can document heritage assets, she added, promising more details during the debate.

Plans are also in the pipeline to enhance the High Performance Sports system, which gives training and support to develop star athletes, as well as to work with the national sports associations to better support Team Singapore athletes.

Ms Fu said there are "some ideas" brewing when it comes to spaces for sports and the arts, and MCCY is looking at how else it can support the arts sector, for example through a training arm focusing on technical skills like prop-making.

Ms Fu also took stock of her ministry's initiatives last year, which included setting up the Our Singapore Fund for ground-up projects celebrating the Singapore Spirit, and the launch of the country's first Centre of Expertise for Disability Sports.

It also worked to bring diverse communities together. She cited a plan, announced last year, to have all Secondary 3 students go for an Outward Bound Singapore expedition-based camp.

The Sports Excellence scholarships and scholarships from the National Arts Council have given some the opportunity to pursue their passions overseas too, she added.

Ms Fu said: "What we have been doing in MCCY is really to build the heartware of the nation, (it's) what distinguishes us from other countries."

•Additional reporting by Melody Zaccheus

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2017, with the headline 'Building a united S'pore to overcome challenges'. Print Edition | Subscribe