Singaporeans 'must be engaged in shaping their future'

MPs talked about the value and importance of engaging their residents on policies and public issues, and also the need to strengthen trust among people of various faiths at a time when many are becoming more religious.
MPs talked about the value and importance of engaging their residents on policies and public issues, and also the need to strengthen trust among people of various faiths at a time when many are becoming more religious.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

All have to be involved in navigating rapidly evolving work landscape and society: MPs

In the movie The Intern, actor Robert De Niro plays a 70-year-old retiree who decides to apply for a job as an intern in an online fashion company - a work environment very different from what he knew.

He wanted "the connections, the excitement", Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC) told the House yesterday, citing the film to illustrate how the work landscape and society are changing rapidly.

She added that it was important for Singapore to provide fulfilling jobs for its people in a more uncertain future, because "to have meaningful work gives confidence to our people, to not only make a living but also to feel included and a sense of belonging and commitment".

Ms Tan was one of six MPs who spoke on the final day of debate on the President's Address. Over the past week, many MPs said all segments of society had to be engaged and feel involved in shaping their future, and yesterday, Ms Tan said this had to extend to the workforce.

"Many of today's top jobs didn't exist a few years ago, and how work is organised in the workplace is evolving. It's no longer a place for people to go to work, withmore people being able to work from anywhere," said Ms Tan.

TAP EXPERIENCE OF OLDER WORKERS

When you bring that diversity of talent together, both young (and) old, you will see the impact that that will bring.

MS JESSICA TAN (EAST COAST GRC), noting the importance of both the young and mature workforce.

"I am somewhat optimistic about the new opportunities that will be created as well as concerned about the impact and the disruption these changes will bring."

Figures from the Manpower Ministry show total employment growth slowed to a 12-year low last year, and workers have to be prepared to pick up new skills and prepare to take on jobs of the future.

But at the same time, companies should also tap the wealth of experience held by mature professionals, managers and executives.

"When you bring that diversity of talent together, both young (and) old, you will see the impact that that will bring," she added.

Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng also shared examples to show how residents value being engaged and consulted on policies and other issues. Mr Baey (Tampines GRC), who has been holding monthly "KopiTalks" in a foodcourt as well as online chats on his Facebook page over the past five years, said these informal sessions have given him a better grasp of issues that concern residents and the public.

But it was also heartening to note that Singaporeans are not just giving feedback or complaining. More are offering to get involved, he said, citing the example of volunteers helping to distribute bread to residents of rental flats in Tampines North. They are now thinking of giving free tuition to children in need.

Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) spoke on the need to strengthen trust among people of various faiths at a time when many are becoming more religious.

He suggested a government body take the lead to hold more inter- faith dialogues and that a task force of members from various groups be formed to study and suggest ways to strengthen harmony.

"Religion and faith cannot be ignored in our policies to maintain religious harmony," he said.

"To preserve our secular nature of politics, we also need to be vigilant that we do not go down the line of other countries by having religious-based politics," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'S'poreans 'must be engaged in shaping their future''. Print Edition | Subscribe