SINGAPORE - Many young people today hope that in six years, Singapore society will be inclusive, compassionate and respectful. They also hope that people will live sustainable lifestyles and enjoy better work-life balance.
These hopes were raised at a three-hour dialogue session on Saturday (May 18) called Youth Conversations. More than 100 young people aged between 16 and 40 participated in the event at The Red Box in Somerset.
Members of a new panel that will lead efforts to articulate young people's vision for Singapore in 2025, and to come up with an action plan to get there, were there to take in their views.
The formation of the SG Youth Action Plan panel was announced on Saturday by Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, who is co-chair of the panel together with Mr Edward Chia, music and lifestyle company Timbre Group's co-founder and chief executive.
The other 14 members of the panel include entrepreneurs, musicians and civil society activists.
Addressing the youth on Saturday after hearing the outcomes of their small group discussions, Ms Sim said that the Government's goals were aligned with theirs in many areas, such as in building an inclusive society. She encouraged them to point out ways to improve relevant policies - such as those to help people who are not digitally savvy become more familiar with technology.
She also said that there may be areas in which people of different age groups hold different views, such as on the importance of sustainability, so discussions on the choices Singapore faces are important.
"The most significant developments and progress that Singapore has made really have been due to people who have contributed, who have given of their time and energy at the prime of their lives. The energy, the passion, the ideas and the actions of young people through every generation have shaped Singapore," she said.
The panel will come up with a vision by August, and then work on the SG Youth Action Plan until March next year. The five-year plan, which was first announced during the debate on the budget of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth in March, aims to give youth a greater say in Singapore's development and to explore ways for them to work with the Government.
One of the projects under the SG Youth Action Plan is to develop a masterplan for the Somerset Belt, which has been designated as a hub for youth.
A working panel co-chaired by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Baey Yam Keng and the chief commercial officer of homegrown women's fashion brand Love, Bonito, Dione Song, will head the effort.
Some of the SG Youth Action Plan panel members who attended Saturday's event said they were impressed by the depth of the discussion among the participants.
For example, singer-songwriter Inch Chua, 30, said she was excited to see young people discussing the relationship between unity and inclusivity, which seem similar but are very different concepts.
Ms Shahira Abdullah, 31, vice-president of Mendaki Club, said many participants wanted concrete steps to solve problems they see in the community.
"They had ideas, whether feasible or not, which we can take into account in our discussions," she said.
Mr Dedric Wong, 32, assistant conductor and general manager of Ding Yi Music Company, said he will be attending more dialogue sessions to listen to the youth so that the panel can come up with concrete plans that are relatable to them.
One of the participants, junior college student Chelsea Wong, 17, said she volunteered to join the discussions after hearing about the event from her teacher.
"The conversation helped us to see perspectives of people from very different backgrounds," she said.
She added that one of her hopes for Singapore is to see more measures put in place to ensure people of all income groups, races, religions and nationalities have access to the benefits of technology.
Fellow participant and first year undergraduate Nur Hazeem Abdul Nasser, 20, said youth sometimes feel left out of the policy-making process because "a lot of the time it's adults making them".
"Giving youth a space to be heard and involved in influencing policies that will eventually affect us is inspiring and productive," he said.