Parliament: Govt and S'poreans need to work hand in hand to solve problems, says Desmond Lee

Minister Desmond Lee said the Government gave the network space to shape its own agenda.
Minister Desmond Lee said the Government gave the network space to shape its own agenda.PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans have to work hand in hand with the Government to solve problems and pursue fresh ideas together, said Minister for National Development Desmond Lee on Friday (Sept 4).

It is not about the Government setting the agenda all the time, then seeking input from the public, he said.

"Instead, the community comes up with ideas and decides what they want to work on, while the Government supports them," said Mr Lee, who is also Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration.

He cited the example of the Youth Mental Well-being Network, set up in February. It is open to anyone who wants to sign up, and more than 1,000 people have done so.

Mr Lee said the Government gave the network space to shape its own agenda. "One participant asked me what the Government aimed to achieve through this network. I said that we did not want to predetermine where the network would go," he added.

As such, some participants have stepped up and volunteered to drive the process, and the network has crafted problem statements and highlighted eight areas of interest that they want to dive into, Mr Lee said.

Another example is Alliances for Action - industry-led coalitions in the economic domain that aim to quickly develop and test new ideas of growth.

One Alliance for Action project on supply chain digitalisation has organised seven workshops to engage nearly 50 parties across the supply chain. In this case, the industry takes the lead with the Government as an active partner, said Mr Lee.

Since June, a new action network for the social sector - the Beyond Covid-19 task force - has been formed, he added.

The task force was born of a desire by the National Council of Social Service and social service agencies to come together and work on common challenges, and develop a social sector that can effectively meet emerging social needs post-Covid-19, he said.

As more themes emerge from conversations between the Government and Singaporeans, more action networks can be formed in the months ahead, said Mr Lee.

 
 

He called for all Singaporeans to be part of efforts to continue building towards a better Singapore. One aspect that will need collective action is in building a greener and more environmentally sustainable Singapore, he added.

Mr Lee said: "It is an existential challenge for us. There is no vaccine for climate change, and as an island city, we are especially vulnerable to its consequences, such as rising sea levels, and increasing temperatures."

That is why the country is doubling down on efforts to be low-carbon and climate-resilient, such as by planting one million trees, making buildings green, towns and the transport network and pushing for the use of more renewable energy like solar power.

"We need everyone to be part of this effort - to reduce the energy we use, reduce the waste we produce, and care collectively for our environment," said Mr Lee.

Mr Lee added that the nation is entering a period of great stress and unpredictability, and Singaporeans are understandably concerned. "But we are starting from a position of strength; learning from our past experiences in fighting disease outbreaks; drawing on fiscal reserves that we have built up over decades and generations; and most importantly, standing united in the face of challenges and adversity," he said.

 
 
 

"More than ever, in these times, we need all hands on deck to steady the ship. Every Singaporean can contribute in one way or another," he added

He called on youth to contribute their energy, ideas, creativity and willingness to challenge the status quo in areas such as climate change, new applications for digital technology and helping the low-income and vulnerable.

For older Singaporeans, their deep experience, wisdom and fighting spirit will be needed, while enterprises and workers have to be nimble to keep up with the changes and transformations.

Community partners, with their extensive networks, can be first responders who can identify and befriend those facing challenges with their enthusiasm, spirit and understanding of the ground, said Mr Lee.

"Singapore Together is one of the rallying cries and spirit that will guide us through this crisis: Our commitment to leave no one behind, making space for differing views, and doing our part."