Why It Matters

Partners going into SG's future

The SGfuture Co-Chairpersons, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Minister from Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing holding an interview to wrap up the SGfuture series. PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH FOR THE STRAITS TIME

In the past nine months, 8,300 Singaporeans participated in the SGfuture dialogue series, sharing their thoughts on issues such as how to make Singapore greener and help the less fortunate.

After 121 sessions, the series ended this week.

What emerged from the extensive exchange of ideas is that the next stage of the Singapore story will be a collaborative effort, written in partnership between the Government and the people.

As Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing put it, the Government no longer sees engagement as just talk, but rather wants to start a "movement to create the capacity for us to achieve together".

Already ministries and national agencies are transforming themselves behind the scenes to prepare for a new era, in which Singaporeans will play a much larger role in such areas as policymaking and problem solving.

Details were not available on how exactly it is being done, but it will require a rethink of the public sector accustomed to 50 years of the Government setting the agenda and implementing its vision.

Moving forward, more opportunities need to be created for people to take part in order for the partnership to succeed.

A small step has been taken in this direction with the launch of the $25 million Our Singapore Fund yesterday.

The money can be tapped for citizen-led projects that fulfil a need in the community and promote unity and deepen people's sense of being Singaporean.

Singaporeans also need to change their mindset because being a partner means being responsible as well for the outcome.

Whether the partnership works will determine if Singaporeans will grow deeper roots as the country enters the next lap of nation building.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2016, with the headline 'Partners going into SG's future'. Print Edition | Subscribe