SINGAPORE – More than 14,000 Singaporeans have participated in the Forward SG exercise launched by the country’s fourth-generation team of political leaders to work on a collective vision for the future.
At the close of phase one of the year-long public consultation to renew the social compact and chart a road map for Singapore for the next decade, some common values have emerged, including promoting fairness, deepening inclusiveness and creating a culture of giving back, said an update posted on Friday on the Forward SG website.
“Across the conversations, Singaporeans acknowledged that we are living in a time of change and must relook our current way of doing things,” said Forward SG.
About 140 engagement sessions have been held since the exercise was launched in June last year to update policies and explore issues along six pillars.
The next and final phase of the exercise will see more discussions on specific issues, and also opportunities for the public to co-create policy solutions. This will conclude in the second half of the year with a Forward Singapore report.
Here are some findings so far:
Empower: Economy and jobs
Amid economic transformation and technological advancements, Singaporeans raised concerns about the availability of job and training opportunities.
Younger workers wanted more training opportunities to help them get ahead, while mature workers were worried about remaining employable and meeting retirement needs. Others with caregiving responsibilities raised concerns about job security and work-life balance.
The practical challenges of picking up new skills also came up, and some suggested that a stronger culture of lifelong learning would lower barriers for workers to take up training.
Others asked for stronger societal support to help those who are facing job disruptions get back on their feet.
Equip: Education and lifelong learning
Social mobility came up for discussion, with many saying they hope those who have benefited from the system would want to pay it forward, especially through helping children from less advantaged backgrounds.
Singaporeans felt that current definitions of success were too narrowly focused on “traditional yardsticks” such as doing well in school and having a white-collar job. There are stark disparities in rewards and recognition for different jobs, and these put some at a disadvantage, they said.
Many noted that there should be diverse opportunities for people to progress. In particular, they felt society should nurture an environment where people with disabilities can contribute meaningfully.
Care: Health and social support
Access to affordable housing, coping with increased costs of living and caring for the young and elderly were among issues raised by those who spoke about the challenges of starting and raising a family. They hope for more family-friendly workplace practices and better sharing of parental responsibilities between husbands and wives.
Some called for better support for vulnerable groups. They suggested delivering social services in a more seamless way to help disadvantaged families, and ensuring access to early intervention and education for children with special needs.
Many participants called for people to work towards breaking the stigma attached to mental health conditions.
Build: Home and living environment
On housing aspirations, people agreed that Singapore should continue to be a home-owning society, and felt public housing policies should prioritise genuine home owners. They generally agreed that those looking to purchase their first home should get priority, with those with more urgent needs getting greater support.
They also acknowledged that land and space constraints can pose challenges to meeting the needs of different groups.
Young adults worried about getting a flat, given the high application rates for Build-To-Order units and a buoyant resale market, while older Singaporeans hoped to age in place, and wanted access to integrated care services. Meanwhile, single Singaporeans also wanted their own space and privacy.
There was broad support to build a more inclusive transport system through repurposing road space to prioritise pedestrians, public transport and active mobility over private vehicles. There were also calls to make transport infrastructure more friendly to seniors and people with disabilities.
Steward: Environmental and fiscal sustainability
There was broad consensus that a mindset shift is needed to build a climate-resilient and sustainable Singapore for future generations. Some suggested using incentives or disincentives, while others felt that better infrastructure could make sustainable practices more convenient and help change behaviour.
Others said there is a need to ensure that the transition to net-zero carbon emissions happens at a suitable pace so that Singapore can meet its climate ambitions while remaining economically competitive.
On fiscal sustainability, there was agreement that the Government has to balance the diverse needs and aspirations of different groups, and ensure a fair allocation of funding across various policies and schemes.
Unite: Singapore identity
The issue of identity drew different views, with some saying there should be a clearly articulated Singaporean identity and others noting that it will continue to evolve. Many called for people to guard the country’s multiculturalism and diversity and said respect for one another’s traditions and cultures is key to societal harmony.
Many Singaporeans expressed interest in doing more to shape policy. They agreed that closer collaboration and partnership between the Government and other stakeholders in society – businesses, the community and individuals – would be essential in the next phase of nation-building.