Forward SG feedback may be addressed midway, before exercise ends: DPM Wong

DPM Lawrence Wong said the Forward SG team will review and study the suitable platforms to put out and publish the feedback gathered. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Midterm milestones, such as Budget 2023, could be platforms from which to respond to some of the feedback gathered in the Forward Singapore exercise, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Monday.

The nationwide engagement exercise, led by DPM Wong with 19 other members of the fourth-generation (4G) leadership team, is slated for completion by the middle of 2023.

Mr Wong said: "We won't rule out having some midterm milestones, where we might very well decide to compile, consolidate some of this feedback and respond to them earlier, even before the end of the exercise."

Mr Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, was responding to Mr Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC), who had asked for an update on Forward Singapore.

The exercise involves Singaporeans in shaping the future of the country and aims to refresh the social compact. It will culminate in a road map to be released in the middle of 2023.

On Monday, Mr Wong said the team will review and study the suitable platforms to publish the feedback gathered.

He added that over the next few months, the Forward Singapore team will deepen its conversations and partnerships with Singaporeans in two ways.

The first way will be to hold more engagements so people can offer their views and hear from others.

Mr Wong said: "Some of these engagements will be held in our neighbourhoods, and some in vernacular languages and different formats to better reach out to Singaporeans of different needs and preferences."

They will cover a wide range of topics, such as how to enhance employability and create good jobs, further improve the living environment, strengthen bonds to Singapore and with one another, and environmental sustainability.

The second way will be to invite people to go beyond just giving views, to co-develop and implement policies and solutions with the Government.

This can be done through approaches such as Citizens' Panels and Alliances for Action, said Mr Wong.

He said that since the Forward Singapore exercise was launched in June, the response from Singaporeans has been encouraging, with useful insights for policy formulation and suggestions for solutions.

He said the team has been working on three broad themes - how to create more opportunities for Singapore and Singaporeans; how to provide better assurances for Singaporeans in a more uncertain future; and how to strengthen the sense of solidarity.

In response to a further question from Mr Ang on whether the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code would be discussed in the exercise, Mr Wong said conversations and engagements on the topic began long before Forward Singapore, and had contributed to the Government's announcement of the repeal at the National Day Rally 2022.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in August the repeal of Section 377A, which criminalises sex between men, but also said the Government will amend the Constitution to protect the definition of marriage as one between a man and a woman to stave off future legal challenges.

Mr Wong said on Monday: "So we do not intend for 377A and the issues around it to be a key part of our Forward Singapore platform because this started after the conversations had already begun.

"But of course, if there are views around society (and) our values, and Singaporeans feedback this to us through our engagements and conversations, we will take in all of this feedback as part of the Forward Singapore engagements."

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