SGfuture engagement round-up

Call to S'poreans: Take active part in shaping future

Mr Chan and Ms Fu at the launch of the report on the SGfuture exercise yesterday. Ms Fu said the feedback received set the Government thinking about how it can evolve in engaging Singaporeans.
Mr Chan and Ms Fu at the launch of the report on the SGfuture exercise yesterday. Ms Fu said the feedback received set the Government thinking about how it can evolve in engaging Singaporeans.PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Govt working on more ways to allow greater participation in various areas, say ministers

Two of the core members of Singapore's next-generation leadership have a message for Singaporeans: The Government is making changes so people can play a bigger role in shaping the country's future.

Ministries and government agencies have begun work behind the scenes to come up with more opportunities and platforms that will allow greater participation by Singaporeans in areas such as policymaking and solving problems, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing.

"We want all government agencies to have that DNA, the instincts, to frame the issues together with people before we look for solutions and work on a project together," Mr Chan said.

He was speaking to reporters yesterday after the launch of a report on the SGfuture public engagement exercise, which he co-chaired with Ms Fu.

What had come out strongly in the 121 dialogue sessions was the desire of people from different segments to work together in the next phase of the country's development, said Ms Fu.

She revealed that the feedback received built on the findings of the earlier Our Singapore Conversation exercise in 2013 and set the Government thinking about how it can evolve in engaging Singaporeans.

"The model of governance, the relationship with the people, has to be adjusted, and I think this is the cue," she said.

The result, as Mr Chan described it: "We want to start a movement whereby Singaporeans come forward to do something together. So it is not just about a dialogue, a conversation, but it is a movement to create the capacity for us to achieve together... It is the start of a movement, really, to get our whole country ready for the next 50 years."

One example of this deeper collaboration between the Government and people is a new national volunteer movement, which will be launched by the year end, said Ms Fu, breaking the news yesterday.

Many of the 8,300 participants in the SGfuture series, which ran from November to last month, expressed a wish to help the elderly, children from disadvantaged families and people with disabilities. SG Cares was born as a result of that, she added.

The movement will see three ministries - Social and Family Development, Culture, Community and Youth, and Health - working with volunteers and voluntary welfare organisations alike.

The aim is to better channel volunteers where they are needed so they have a more meaningful experience, and to help voluntary welfare organisations derive maximum benefit from these resources, said Ms Fu, adding that more details will be revealed at a later date.

Both ministers also said this new way of working together will require a more active citizenry "coming together, identifying the project, working together".

Making a pitch for Singaporeans to come forward, they said one benefit is the greater sense of ownership that will come with participation. People will also be more aware of the deeper issues underlying national policies and the difficult compromises the Government sometimes has to make, added Ms Fu.

Mr Chan said: "We all have partaken in the solution-seeking, and it is also our joint responsibility to stand up for this solution. There will be trade-offs, there will be compromises between different interest groups, but we all share the same responsibility."

Although the SGfuture engagement sessions have wrapped up, those who want to contribute can look forward to the $25 million Our Singapore Fund, which will be launched on Thursday.

First announced in this year's Budget, it seeks to support projects that promote unity and build national identity.

Those who want to apply for Our Singapore Fund can go to www.sg

The report on the SGfuture dialogue series can be read online at www.sg/sgfuture/report

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Call to S'poreans: Take active part in shaping future'. Print Edition | Subscribe