SINGAPORE - There will be more opportunities for Singaporeans to weigh in with ideas about how they want to shape Singapore's future in the form of private-public alliances and conversations that take a deep dive into topics of interest.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, in an update on the Singapore (SG) Together movement, said on Saturday (June 26) that already, 25 Alliances for Action (AfA) have been formed in the past year to look into issues ranging from the well-being of lower-wage workers to the mental health of young people.
It added that many of these have gone beyond the discussion stage to start projects that people can volunteer for.
In remarks on the second anniversary of the SG Together movement, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that Singaporeans wish for a more caring, just and equal society, and are prepared to play an active part in achieving it.
Amid the disruptions caused by Covid-19, Singaporeans' desire for such a society have found even stronger expression, he added.
Mr Heng, who launched SG Together two years ago, said on Saturday: "Covid-19, instead of throwing the Singapore Together movement off course, has strengthened our sense of purpose, and surfaced areas for more urgent action.
"The pandemic has convinced me that our people have the conviction and will to recover and build a brighter shared future post-Covid-19, and that this future is within our reach."
He added that in the coming months, new alliances will be convened to address the wide range of topics that have come up in the SG Together Emerging Stronger Conversations that canvassed the views of 16,900 Singaporeans, especially in the areas of creating new jobs and opportunities, reducing inequality, making further progress on Singapore women's development and building a greener Singapore.
One Singaporean who has joined one of these private-public alliances - which bring together regular Singaporeans, companies, various organisations and the Government - is Mr Karthigayan Ramakrishnan.
The 38-year-old, who is a volunteer with Better.sg and is in the alliance for lower-wage workers, said issues faced by such workers have wider implications for society as a whole, and that he hoped to contribute to making a change.
"I see the concerns around lower-wage essential workers as a progressive thing. Better remunerations are important, but I'm more concerned about the quality of life of lower-wage workers," he told The Straits Times.
He has formed a team with some of the members in the AfA to convince companies to focus not just on the bottom line, but also on their people, and be "organisations of conscience".
On Saturday, Mr Heng attended a workshop held by AfA on lower-wage workers. Among the issues it is looking at is how to strengthen people's respect for such workers, as well as boost support for progressive wages.
National Development Minister Desmond Lee, who co-chairs SG Together with Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, said in a statement that he was encouraged that the alliances have made good progress in trying to tackle the complex issues that matter most to Singaporeans.
"The AfAs will adapt to the needs and context of each topic, but what is common across them is the partnership approach. I hope this approach will strengthen our sense of shared purpose," he added.
Ms Indranee also said: "To give effect to our desire to better engage and involve Singaporeans in policy development, government agencies have been innovating, with new approaches like citizens' panels and participatory design."
Besides the alliances, deep dive conversations around themes such as families and parenthood, as well as sustainability, have also been organised, building on the Emerging Stronger Conversation series conducted between June and December last year.
Mr Heng said after two years, the SG Together movement has shown that "when all parts of society come together to work on something, we can very quickly put thought into action".
"The effort to build our nation will never end. Singapore Together will be a work of a generation," he added.
"But as we seek to emerge stronger from Covid-19, we must build on the bonds that have drawn us closer together during this crisis, and step forward with our passion and energy to create a better and brighter future together."
A total of 25 AfAs have been created in the past year bringing together Singaporeans, the Government and other organisations to focus on areas like creating new economic opportunities for workers, ensuring social mobility, building a more inclusive society and building a greener nation.
Here are some alliances people can participate in.
Formed in March, the AfA has about 50 members looking at strengthening respect and appreciation for such workers, encouraging employers to provide supportive working environments, improving support for upskilling, and supporting progressive wages. People can submit their ideas at this website.
Online ordering for hawkers
The latest AfA aims to help hawkers learn to use online ordering and delivery platforms, to support Singapore’s hawker culture. So far, hawkers, community partners and e-ordering platform providers have come together to identify challenges faced by hawkers. People who want to be updated about this AfA can go to this website.
Youth stewards for nature
Groups of young people will be recruited to study and develop solutions to problems relating to urban greenery and biodiversity, such as tackling the issue of wildlife feeding, under the mentorship of National Parks Board (NParks) staff. Those interested can contact NParks at YSN@nparks.gov.sg.
Emerging needs and volunteerism
This alliance focuses on three main areas: Increasing support for mental wellness in the community, providing opportunities for seniors to gain new skills to help them better navigate a post-Covid-19 landscape, and aggregating demand and supply of donations-in-kind in response to the pandemic. People who want to participate or give suggestions can contact the SG Cares Office at SGCares@mccy.gov.sg
Beyond Covid-19 task force
The task force, set up in May last year to boost the resilience of the social service sector through digitalisation, strengthening manpower and enhancing leadership capabilities, completed its work in April and has shared its recommendations with social service agencies. The National Council of Social Service is launching several initiatives in the coming months to support the sector in its transformation. Social service agencies and people who want to participate can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who want to provide funds can also give to the Community Capability Trust through Community Chest.