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Building a United, Caring and Inclusive Society

Response to parliamentary question on measures to build a united, caring and inclusive society

  1. A united, caring and inclusive society does not happen by chance. We need to both aspire and take action to achieve this.
  2. Our aspiration to be one nation and one united people is enshrined in our National Pledge, reminding us never to take our harmony and unity for granted.  
  3. But we must back our aspiration with action. Collectively and deliberately as Singaporeans. The deliberate measures we have put in place, while still a work in progress, are bearing fruit. 
  4. These measures have created opportunities for us to live together in our housing estates, our children to study together in national schools, our men to serve together in National Service, and many of us to encounter one another daily in our public parks, our hawker centres, our sports facilities. 
  5. Through these interactions, we grow to understand, respect and appreciate one another. According to a recent survey by the Singapore Kindness Movement1, three in four Singaporeans are satisfied with their relationships with their neighbours. We are good neighbours and friends.
  6. But we can always do better. It is natural for people to sort themselves into more homogenous groups. It happens in schools, and in neighbourhoods. We can do more to know and befriend those who are different from us. The last comprehensive study on social capital was conducted in 2017 by the Institute of Policy Studies, with the support of MCCY. This study found that Singaporeans are more likely to mix with people of other races and age groups than those of a different social background. We need to expand the circle of people we care about to include not just those who are like us, but also see ourselves in fellow Singaporeans with very different life experiences. 
  7. At MCCY, we work with Singaporeans to grow a culture of everyday care and neighbourliness. More recently, we have been creating additional opportunities for groups to come together. In schools, we have the MOE-OBS Challenge, which brings together participants from diverse social backgrounds. Our Strategic Partnership Co-Curricular Activities also allow students to mix with peers from other schools.  
  8. Through our SG Cares movement, we have built a network of volunteer centres to make volunteering and mutual support part of Singaporeans’ daily lives. Since 2018, over 30,000 volunteers have served more than 240,000 beneficiaries2, many of whom become volunteers themselves and paid it forward. Corporates have also stepped forward to do their part. Last year3, two-thirds of businesses engaged in corporate giving.
  9. Our culture of care have also become more evident in the past few years, as we stood united in the face of COVID. Singaporeans supported our healthcare and frontline workers. The Sayang Sayang Fund, established to deliver support to vulnerable communities, raised over $9.6M and benefited nearly 360,000 recipients4
  10. And we have introduced more opportunities for all stakeholders in our society to take action. Following the Emerging Stronger Conversations in 2020 and 2021, we formed 36 Alliances for Action. Over 140,000 individuals and 1,500 organisations came together to co-create and implement solutions to causes that matter to them. On such example is the Alliance for Action for Low-Wage Workers. Members focus on a whole-of-society effort to uplift low-wage workers. This AfA has created 13 projects so far. 
  11. This is the energy and spirit of collective action that we want to harness in our ongoing Forward Singapore exercise. An enduring and refreshed social compact that will set us up strongly to face challenges. It takes every single one of us. Not just government, but with our community, with businesses and every Singaporean and Singaporean resident alike. Employers must create environments where workers can thrive. Singaporeans must engage each other with care, respect and dignity. And we must pledge to look out for each other and uplift those in greater need. Together, we can build more united, caring and inclusive Singapore. Not just for ourselves, but for our future generations as well. 
  1. Source: Graciousness Survey 2022 by Singapore Kindness Movement. The online survey polled a demographically representative sample of 1,012 respondents. 
  2. Source: SG Cares Office; accurate as of Jul 2022. 
  3. Source:  Corporate Giving Study 2021 by National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre. 
  4. Source: Community Foundation of Singapore. Accurate as of 1 Apr 2022. 
Last updated on 14 September 2022