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Together, making Singapore home

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the Committee of Supply Debate 2019

Introduction

  1. Mr Chair, with your permission, my Ministry will display some slides.
  2. Since MCCY was formed six years ago, our cultural, community, sports and youth sectors have grown more vibrant. We are a strong society, built on firm foundations.
  3. But the future is becoming more uncertain. Geopolitics and extremism threaten to unsettle the peace and stability we enjoy. At home, our population is ageing, while our youth have diverse aspirations, different from past generations. There are growing concerns of widening inequality. Business, work and daily life are being disrupted by digital technology. These challenges are real, and can fracture our society if not addressed. In this complex world, we need new ways of working together, partnering with each other to create innovative solutions, and building trust.
  4. In recent years, the Government has been engaging citizens, corporates, and communities more deeply and extensively, to consult, co-create and co-deliver, on issues that Singaporeans feel strongly about.
  5. On the economic front, we have seen many fruitful partnerships. Looking ahead, Government will accelerate the upskilling of our workers, by deepening partnerships with employers, unions as well as Trade Associations & Chambers. We will also collaborate with the Federation of Merchants’ Association Singapore (FMAS) to reach out to and help transform our heartland enterprises. We will continue to partner investors and corporates to grow more local businesses.
  6. On the environmental front, we are reaching out to citizens and corporates to make a decisive shift towards sustainable lifestyles and practices. We have started building such partnerships via MEWR’s 2018 “Year of Climate Action”, and will work with citizens and industry to take collective action for 2019’s “Year Towards Zero Waste”.
  7. On the security front, more Singaporeans are playing their part as we expand the Community First Responders Network, to mobilise and support those with relevant skills to help in emergencies. As the nature of national security evolves, the Government will work with businesses, schools and cybersecurity practitioners to strengthen our sixth pillar of Total Defence - Digital Defence.
  8. On the social front, the Government is partnering VWOs, Family Service Centres and other community bodies, to strengthen support for students from disadvantaged families, and facilitating ground-up movements to grow their strengths and interests.  Businesses are stepping forward to provide employment opportunities for marginalised groups.
  9. When we harness the talent and creativity of our citizens to achieve more together, we can build a more inclusive Singapore that is home for everyone. Everyone has a place here. And in speaking to Singaporeans, I know many want to contribute to making Singapore our best home.
  10. And this is the heart of MCCY’s work – building together with Singaporeans a home that we care about and feel proud of. We build a better home and grow together as a nation by creating community spaces for social interactions, designing programmes that create shared experiences and promote mutual understanding, and encouraging Singaporeans to pursue the common good.
  11. Our spirit of giving continues to grow. Over the last 5 years, total tax-deductible donations have increased by more than $80 million, to $1.05 billion in 2017. Individual volunteerism rates have almost doubled, and 1 in 2 businesses gave back to society in 2017. Meanwhile, digital platforms like giving.sg and the SG Cares App have helped connect hundreds of thousands of volunteers and donors to more than 500 charities.
  12. 2018 was a busy year for our athletes, who once again flew Singapore’s flag high at various major games. Team Singapore fielded 323 athletes across the 21st Commonwealth Games and 18th Asian Games, winning a total of 31 medals. This was followed by Team Singapore’s best ever away performance at the 3rd Asian Para Games in Jakarta, with a medal tally of 3 Golds, 2 Silvers and 5 Bronzes.
  13. Developments on the cultural front have also been encouraging. 2017 saw record highs, with more than 11 million attending non-ticketed arts and culture events, and 5.4 million visiting national museums and heritage institutions. Singaporeans were also able to enjoy over 9,500 performing arts activities throughout the year.
  14. 8 in 10 Singaporeans agree that Singapore is a caring and cohesive society, and are satisfied with race and religious relations. According to our 2018 Sports Index Survey, 64% of Singaporeans developed a stronger bond with people of different backgrounds by watching or participating in sports, an increase over 2017. More than 7 in 10 are proud of Singapore’s culture and heritage, with over 90% proud to be Singaporean.
  15. Our work does not stop here. Dr Lim Wee Kiak asked about our plans. This year, MCCY will make partnering Singaporeans a focus of our work, and we will do so in the following ways. First, in caring for the community; second, in fostering mutual understanding and trust; third, in providing opportunities for all; fourth, in celebrating our shared values; and fifth, in realising the benefits of digitalisation.

    Care - enabling caring communities

  16. As announced during Budget 2019, SG Cares is a major undertaking of my Ministry.  SG Cares brings out the spirit of giving inherent in our DNA, making it a way of life for all of us. It starts with helping those around you – be it in your neighbourhood, school or workplace.
  17. This year, we will be providing more resources and platforms to facilitate this as we build on our corporate, youth and senior volunteerism initiatives. We can achieve much more by sharing information and resources, and leveraging the strengths and experiences of different community and corporate partners.
  18. We will expand our SG Cares Community Network, which connects volunteers, social service organisations and community resources to areas of need.  We will identify community-based organisations across Singapore to take on the role of Volunteer Centres, or VCs for short.  These VCs will recruit, manage, and develop volunteers on a sustained basis, create volunteering opportunities based on local needs, and build partnerships with stakeholders.
  19. Two VCs have been appointed in Bedok and Jurong East. In Bedok, Filos Community Services will be developing a volunteer engagement toolkit and framework to engage the stakeholders in Bedok to promote active volunteerism in the town.  In Jurong East, Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre has kick-started “Neighbour Cares”, a programme to mobilise neighbours as volunteers to look out for lonely seniors who need befriending services. We recognise the value in mobilising the strengths of communities. In the long term, we hope to grow “Neighbour Cares” in different neighbourhoods, where residents connect with and look out for one another, with the help of the VCs.
  20. Mr Saktiandi Supaat and Dr Lim asked if the VC initiative will be extended to more towns. The target is to appoint another 5 VCs by the end of the year. Thereafter, we will review our progress before expanding our efforts.
  21. Chairman, in Mandarin please.
  22. 上个月,《联合早报 • 交流站》刊登了读者郑昭荣先生一篇提名为《勿以善小而不为》的投函。文中郑先生提到 “关爱新加坡行动” 的活动经过精心策划,为指定群体做善事的同时,也应该勿忘为身边的陌生人行小善。我非常赞同郑先生的看法。我们除了要支持国人多参与志愿服务,为有需要的群体付出一份力量,更加要多关心我们周围的人。而关怀之心,往往就从细心观察、无微不至的行动中体现出来。郑先生在文章中感谢一位年轻人帮助年迈的他捡起买饮料时掉落的银角,这种看似渺小的举动却有非凡的效应。 所谓 “勿以恶小而为之,勿以善小而不为”,善举不分形式,贡献不分大小,这正是“关爱新加坡行动”的精神。我希望更多国人能发挥爱心。文化、社区及青年部也会继续和国人一同携手打造一个具有关爱的新加坡1
  23. Dr Lim asked about our support for youths in contributing to social causes. We will partner Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) to help students transitioning from secondary schools to keep up their community involvement.  A new Youth Corps Singapore (YCS) Programme will start this year to develop community service youth leaders in IHLs, bringing together youth from different educational institutions.  We will begin first with our polytechnics, ITE and universities, before progressively expanding to all IHLs and some Private Education Institutions in the near future. Participants will go through a camp where they can meet like-minded, passionate youths, access YCS’s networks and receive community leadership and skills-based training. These youth leaders will catalyse more volunteer projects as they galvanise their peers to join them. They can tap on the National Youth Fund and Young ChangeMakers Grant for funding support. By supporting their development as community service leaders and helping them build bonds with the communities they serve, we are hopeful that our youths will continue their volunteering journey even after they leave their institutions.
  24. Similarly, we will work with companies to incorporate senior volunteerism into their pre-retirement planning programmes, to encourage more seniors to volunteer. The Government will also take the lead in volunteerism through Public Service Cares, as part of the SG Cares movement.  SMS will provide more details on this.

    Cohesion - fostering mutual understanding & trust

  25. In a diverse society like Singapore, it is important that we continue to build mutual trust and understanding, in pursuit of the common good.  We cannot take for granted the harmony we enjoy in Singapore, and the sense of shared future we feel as one people. We need to work constantly at it.
  26. Our partners contribute to growing a more cohesive society in different and important ways.
  27. They bring with them much needed capabilities, for instance in consensus-building and inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue. Mr Alex Yam and Dr Lim spoke about inter-faith harmony. In 2017, we launched BRIDGE, a series of community-driven initiatives, to foster better understanding and appreciation of the diverse religions and cultures in Singapore.  To date, we have reached out to more than 10,000 Singaporeans by collaborating with community partners like the Whitehatters and OnePeople.sg.  In particular, the “Ask Me Anything” series7, a platform to learn about different faiths, has seen a high degree of interest, with some 80% attendance from first-timers at each session, while more than 90% of participants indicated that they gained a better understanding of different faiths.  Through this series, we have also seen more people indicating interest to be facilitators of inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogues. We will continue to work with our community partners to expand BRIDGE, as well as involve different segments of society in nurturing racial and religious harmony in Singapore.
  28. Given the important role our partners play, we will help grow their capabilities where needed.  Dr Lim pointed out that we have conducted several counter-terrorism seminars for religious organisations in recent years.  We will be launching the SGSecure Community Network Crisis Preparedness Accreditation Scheme for religious organisations (ROs) in the second half of 2019.  This will include a checklist and resource guide that will help ROs improve their crisis response capabilities. We urge religious organisations to come on board, as we work hand in hand to ensure Singapore remains safe and united in the face of future crises.
  29. Mr Yam also asked about the International Conference on Cohesive Societies. In June, Singapore will also be hosting an International Conference on Cohesive Societies, organised by the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies with the support of MCCY. The conference will discuss themes on building cohesive societies and interfaith harmony, bringing together international thought leaders across academia, government, religious groups and the civic sector. We can learn from the experiences of others, and share best practices with each other. The conference will also include a track for youth leaders in the form of a Young Leaders Programme, to provide the next generation of leadership a platform to tackle social challenges, and find like-minded collaborators.
  30. By partnering youths, we benefit from their ideas and energy. Young Singaporeans want to be heard.  They want to have the chance to shape the future, partner with Government, and participate in change.  In his Budget, Minister Heng emphasised supporting our youths -  by improving our education system; by topping-up the Edusave Account and PSEA; by investing in our economic sector to create more good jobs for our young people; by preparing our youths to take advantage of international business opportunities through mentorship and internship platforms. We recognise that our youths have to navigate the ups and downs of education, work, adulthood and more.  To our youths, we hear you and understand your concerns.
  31. We hear you through the Youth Conversations. Since its launch last year, we have engaged over 8,000 youths from different backgrounds and stages of life, both online and face-to-face. We listened to their interests, needs, and aspirations, as they spoke about various topics from mental health to environmental sustainability. About 80% of youths surveyed indicated a better understanding of issues that Singapore faces through Youth Conversations, and close to 90% agreed that they became more aware of different views. To better support our youths and answer their call for greater space for civic participation, we will embark on a major collaboration with our youths. We now want to move from conversation to action, through the SGYouth Action Plan.
  32. The SG Youth Action Plan will define our youths’ vision for Singapore, and lay out how youths and Singapore can work together to achieve it. Youths will have the chance to debate and discuss issues, examine policy and initiate change for the future.  MCCY will be appointing a panel, comprising youth representatives, to lead this effort.  SMS Sim Ann, who will be co-leading the panel, will elaborate.

    Cohesion - providing opportunities for all

  33. In recent years, our arts and sports scenes have flourished.  It is crucial that participation in the arts and sports remains something that all Singaporeans can enjoy and benefit from. It should not be a luxury for a privileged few.  To ensure that opportunities remain inclusive and accessible to all, we are undertaking strategic reviews of these sectors, in consultation with citizens. For example, we are encouraged by the outcomes of the Arts & Culture Strategic Review (ACSR) in developing a vibrant and sustainable cultural landscape.  But we also recognise the need to update our strategies and measurements to incorporate developments since the ACSR was launched in 2012, so that our arts and culture continue to strengthen our social fabric and unity. SPS will elaborate later.
  34. An important focus is to ensure our cultural offerings continue to be inclusive, particularly for under-served groups like the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
  35. An accessibility audit will be rolled out across our museums and heritage institutions this year. The first phase of the audit will relate to infrastructure -  such as general access, connectivity and wayfinding. We will also consider how we can improve the accessibility of our exhibitions and programmes.
  36. Accessibility at some of our museums and heritage institutions is already being enhanced. The ongoing and upcoming revamps at the Changi Chapel & Museum, Reflections at Bukit Chandu, the Peranakan Museum and the Singapore Philatelic Museum will provide Singaporeans with wider passageways, lifts and ramps for wheelchair users, more nursing rooms, as well as accessible vehicle parking lots and washrooms for persons with disabilities. In the ongoing revamp of the Singapore Art Museum, these considerations will also be key features.  For our students, SPS will share more on how we are expanding access to the arts through our schools, including the School of the Arts.
  37. Mr Chair, I will speak in Mandarin. 
  38. 除了优化实体建设,我们也要通过充实的活动,为年长国人提供崭新体验和技能,以提升生活素质。国家文物局旗下的文化机构,比如晚晴园、马来传统文化馆、印族文化馆等被指定为活跃乐龄文化站。文化站将为乐龄人士提供相聚的社区空间,也举办为银发族量身定做的活动。
  39. 例如,刚推出的“回顾之旅”就是由银发义务讲解员带领其他乐龄人士走访本地各个历史地标。它旨在鼓励年长国人相互交流,通过活动结交新朋友,减低与社会隔绝的风险。在黄金岁月中,他们既可以接受新知识、也享有丰富精彩的生活。年长义工也可以接受培训、成为导览员,让他们学习新技能的当儿,也惠及他人2
  40. Similarly, in the sports sector, we want to ensure access and opportunities for all Singaporeans to live an active and healthy life.  Mr Darryl David and Mr Irshad spoke about the importance of social mixing and a more inclusive society.   Our sports facilities are key to this – they are important community spaces where Singaporeans can meet, play and connect with each other.
  41. We will roll out accessible play spaces and facilities island-wide, to bring sport closer to all Singaporeans.  Mr Henry Kwek asked about our sports facilities and programmes going forward.  Like Ms Lee Bee Wah, we recognise that new and improved facilities are required to cater to the growing needs of residents and towns.
  42. In 2019, we will continue to develop and upgrade our infrastructure in accordance with the Sports Facilities Master Plan.  We can look forward to the opening of 52 new indoor school sports halls and 32 new free-to-play school fields under the Dual-Use Scheme, as well as 2 new Play Fields in Jurong Lake Gardens and Yan Kit.  Another 9 Sport-in-Precinct facilities in Buona Vista, Choa Chu Kang, Chong Pang, Mountbatten, Punggol East, Sembawang, Ulu Pandan, Whampoa and Woodlands will be ready by 2021.  For Yishun, Sport Singapore has plans to upgrade the existing sports facilities and has engaged local community leaders on the proposed improvements.  More details will be shared in due course.
  43. We will rejuvenate existing ActiveSG facilities, like the Bishan Stadium, Former Boon Lay Swimming Complex, Jalan Besar Stadium, Jurong East Stadium, and Kallang Practice Track, with new innovative features by the end of the year.  One example is the upcoming installation of LED display score boards and match play highlights, as well as stadium bucket seats to enhance the spectator experience.  Singaporeans will also have the chance to play a bigger part in the co-creation of sporting spaces to come, such as the upgraded Choa Chu Kang Sport Centre, which will be ready in phases from 2020.
  44. As with our cultural institutions, we are designing our sporting spaces to cater to all age groups, including our seniors.   Like Ms Joan Pereira, we want our seniors to stay healthy and connected through sport.  Later this year, an ActiveSG gym will be opened in Ang Mo Kio Community Centre, where seniors can participate in elder-friendly exercise programmes. Over time, we will ensure all our ActiveSG gyms provide safe and accessible environments that are equipped for our seniors, with qualified staff on-site to provide any assistance required.
  45. Aside from our sports infrastructure, our programmes will enable Singaporeans, young and old, to lead active lives.  ActiveSG, our national movement for sport, has gained momentum over the years.  In 2018, ActiveSG reached over one million people from diverse backgrounds and demographics, and will continue to expand its programmes through its Academies & Clubs, as well as GetActive! Singapore.  These initiatives help Singaporeans embrace an active lifestyle and connect with one another through sports.
  46. This year, 2 more Academies & Clubs in Canoeing and Gymnastics will be launched, bringing our total offerings to 18, including the ActiveSG Masters Club for seniors as well as various individual and team sports for our children.
  47. I have seen and heard many positive stories of Singaporeans’ experiences in these Academies & Clubs, and would like to share one example. Earlier this year, I met 9-year old Ethan Loh at a community event. Ethan first joined the ActiveSG Football Academy in 2016 as a beginner. He has since gone on to represent the Academy in local and international football tournaments. Last July, he participated in the Kanga Cup in Perth, where Ethan and his team put in a strong performance, progressing to the semi-finals. I understand that Ethan also represents his school. Just yesterday, they competed in the West Zone semi-finals for the first time ever. Beyond providing a platform for Ethan to hone his footballing skills, his father credits the Academy for helping Ethan develop into a more mature person, a testament to the holistic sporting education that ActiveSG’s Academies & Clubs can provide.
  48. Active Health, launched in 2017, is another important programme that we hope will equip every Singaporean to take ownership of their personal health and wellness.  Mr Yee Chia Hsing asked for updates on Active Health. So far, more than 10,000 individuals have been on-boarded through Active Health lab assessments and workshops, with other programmes such as Active Health roadshows reaching over 80,000 people.  To bring Active Health closer to the community, Active Health Mobile Labs were introduced last July, along with Active Health programming at the Sport-in-Precinct facilities at Jurong Spring.
  49. We are on track to open 4 Active Health Labs at our sport centres in Bishan, Jurong East, Sengkang and Woodlands this month, in addition to existing ones at Our Tampines Hub and Heartbeat@Bedok. We will also open 2 new Active Health spaces in partner facilities by May. The first space has already been launched as part of Singapore’s flagship Decathlon store in Kallang, with another to follow at Admiralty Medical Centre. Like at the Labs, Singaporeans will be able to undergo free health and fitness assessments at these spaces, and set personal health and wellness targets in consultation with sport scientists. We hope to see more Singaporeans come on board Active Health in the years to come.

    Confidence - celebrating shared values and achievements in nation-building

  50. Next, I will touch on building a confident nation. It is vital to our future, to remember our heritage. Only by knowing where we came from, what we stand for, and who we are, can we stride confidently into the future.
  51. PM Lee announced at last year’s National Day Rally that we will be nominating Hawker Culture for inscription on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Hawker Culture reflects an integral part of our way of life. A successful inscription will not only showcase our multicultural heritage to the world, but also our pride in our hawkers and Hawker Culture.   Mr David asked for an update on this. We will be submitting the nomination form for our Hawker Culture to UNESCO by the end of this month, with the outcome expected to be announced around end-2020.
  52. We are taking this opportunity to recognise and show appreciation to our hawkers, who reflect the trade, family spirit and rich cultural life that Singaporeans can be proud of. We will continue to engage them by featuring selected hawkers and their stories as part of the Support Our Hawkers Social Movement. We also hope more Singaporeans will share their own hawker stories on social media with the hashtag #OurHawkerCulture.
  53. I am happy to report that support for the nomination has been encouraging.  Following the initial announcement, an online poll was set-up for the public to pledge their support. More than 14,000 pledges were received within the first 5 days of the announcement, and as at 5th March, more than 700,000 pledges had been received online, through our travelling exhibitions and mobile pledging stations.
  54. Our schools have been very supportive.  Students from both Pei Chun Public School and First Toa Payoh Primary School have worked on projects related to Hawker Culture.  One such project is Fond Memories of Toa Payoh, which saw students of both schools come together to uncover the people and stories behind hawker food in Toa Payoh – a place they proudly call a “hawker food haven”. 
  55. In addition, many private organisations and civic groups have stepped forward to support the nomination. You may have seen videos publicising our Hawker Culture while travelling in taxis, supported by Moove Media. MCI and National Geographic collaborated to organise the #OurHawkerCulture Photo Contest, which has seen many stunning entries. Food bloggers and influencers have been sharing stories about their favourite hawkers and hawker food, and encouraging Singaporeans to do the same. The Nomination Committee, led by the NHB, NEA, and FMAS will continue to facilitate such ground-up efforts in support of our Hawker Culture, and we hope to see many more Singaporeans rallying behind this.
  56. In 2015, we started the Founders’ Memorial project. Through the Founders’ Memorial Committee’s engagements with the public from 2015 to 2017, Singaporeans voiced their desire for the memorial to be anchored on the values and ideals exemplified by Singapore’s first generation of leaders who played important roles in Singapore’s path to independence. Mr Daniel Goh suggested a memorial for fallen soldiers at the Founders’ Memorial. The Founders’ Memorial, given its said purpose, would not be suited for this.  We honour, in other ways, the memory of those who have given their lives for Singapore, as MINDEF mentioned in their response to a related question.
  57. Dr Lim asked about the next phase of development for the Founders’ Memorial. An international architectural design competition was recently launched to invite potential designs for the memorial. In May, Singaporeans will be engaged to offer views on the shortlisted designs, before the winning design is selected and showcased through a public exhibition in early 2020. The memorial will be an expression of our identity and belonging to this nation we call home.
  58. As we commemorate our history and culture, we also celebrate our shared values and the success of Singaporeans on the international stage.
  59. I mentioned the achievements of our Team Singapore athletes at last year’s major games.  The success of our athletes is a result of years of hard work, discipline and resilience. It is also an encouraging sign that our investments in the High Performance Sports (HPS) system are bearing fruit.  SPS will speak more about the HPS system later.
  60. As raised by Dr Lim, Mr Saktiandi and earlier Mr Terence Ho, our artists also pursued their aspirations internationally, and have done Singapore proud on the world stage. For example, our artists regularly participate in international Biennales, which showcase Singapore to the world, and increase the visibility of our visual artists, curators and technical specialists. This year will mark Singapore’s 9th appearance at the Venice Biennale. We will be presenting the work of multi-disciplinary artist Song-Ming ANG and curator Michelle Ho, who use music to explore ideas of public involvement, and the ways people relate to music, both individually and as a society.
  61. Our performing artists are flying the Singapore flag high beyond our shores.  In May, our Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) will perform in South Korea, before embarking on a tour of Europe, covering Germany and Italy, later in the year. We are proud of our ‘people’s orchestra’, whose performances will feature Singaporean artists such as acclaimed violinist KAM Ning and percussionist Benjamin Boo. I’d like to tell you a story about Benjamin. He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, and a Master of Performance from the Royal College of Music. Benjamin joined the SCO full-time last year, following the footsteps of his father, Mr Boo Chin Kiah, a veteran Suona musician. They are the first father-son duo in SCO’s history, and will be touring together for the first time. Our musicians’ talent and dedication to the craft exemplify the Singapore spirit, and show the world what we are capable of achieving.
  62. We hope that showcasing our culture and heritage internationally will help people around the world learn more about Singapore. Later this year, artefacts from the Asian Civilisations Museum’s special exhibition, ‘Raffles in Southeast Asia’, will be displayed at The British Museum. This will be the first time Singapore’s National Collection will be showcased at this world-famous institution.

    Digital transformation

  63. I would like to touch on harnessing the power of technology.  While much has been said about digital technologies and transformations in the media and business realms, technology is also relevant to our sectors.
  64. Firstly, technology enables closer partnerships. We rolled out volunteer.sg, a one-stop online platform for public agencies to engage and support our volunteers.  Through volunteer.sg, volunteers can search for opportunities related to their interests and skills and share them with friends and family on social media.   Volunteers can also indicate their availability and choose preferred shifts, mark attendance with smart phones, track their volunteering hours, and provide feedback to organisers with ease.  For our volunteer managers, this integrated system provides a digital solution for better management of volunteer opportunities and engagement of volunteers, thus enabling them to scale up.  As we bring more agencies on board the platform to provide a wider range of volunteering opportunities, we hope to see even more Singaporeans come forward and contribute to our culture of care.
  65. Technology can also be an effective tool for engagement and dialogue.  Last year, we leveraged digital technology to engage 5,000 youths online, as part of Youth Conversations. Later this year, we will be launching an online site so that youths can participate in conversations with each other and engage with Government on issues close to their hearts. This digital deliberation platform will complement the live Youth Conversations, which SMS will elaborate on.
  66. During the Budget Debate, Mr Ho gave a thoughtful speech on the application of technology in arts and culture to meet the changing needs and preferences of audiences. We thank him for his thoughtful suggestions. This year, we will roll out the first phase of our plan to digitalise the culture sector, to engage new audiences and make it easier for all Singaporeans to enjoy arts and culture as part of daily life. Our initiative under this plan is a Cultural Concierge, a one-stop online platform to discover arts and culture activities and content.  Users will be able to search for event listings according to individual preferences, using key words such as ‘nearby’, ‘weekend’ or ‘family-friendly’, as well as interact with a chatbot for event and content recommendations.  The website will also be integrated with relevant ticketing sites, for a seamless user experience. We will also launch the Cultural Resource Ontology, to enhance online search capabilities for both the public and researchers to access cultural resources more easily.
  67. We will leverage technology to enhance visitor experiences and improve operations at our cultural and sporting spaces. NHB launched the DigiMuse programme last August – this is an example of it - and will be holding another edition this year to trial new technology such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, chatbots and assistive technology in its galleries.  On the sporting front, we are implementing the Computer Vision Drowning Detection System (CVDDS) at our public swimming complexes.  Using a network of overhead infrared cameras, the system enables earlier detection of possible drowning, thus making our pools safer.  The system will be installed at pools in Bukit Batok, Jurong West and Our Tampines Hub later this year, with another 7 to follow by April 2020.

    Conclusion

  68. Mr Chairman, we are living in times where the only constant is change.  Change can be unsettling, and may leave some people behind. We need to ride the wave of change together. At MCCY, we will continue to foster a culture of care and trust. We will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute to society and pursue their dreams.
  69. But we cannot do all this alone. Every Singaporean has a part to play, from volunteering, leading ground-up projects, contributing to a cause, empowering our youth, to supporting our artists and athletes.  And it is not just in MCCY’s domain that Singaporeans can contribute.  We have seen many impactful Government-citizen partnerships in different sectors. And we look forward to many more meaningful engagements and collaborations in the years to come.   Together, we can inspire confidence that Singapore will continue to succeed, and be a place we are all proud to call home.

 

1 Translation: Last month, I came across a forum letter in Lianhe Zaobao, titled “Do not forget kind deeds just because they are small”, written by Mr Zheng Zhaorong. He said that while the large-scale programmes under SG Cares have served the community well, it is important to continue to perform small acts of kindness to each other.  I agree with Mr Zheng. In his letter, Mr Zheng thanked a young Singaporean who helped him pick up a coin he had dropped while buying a drink. Such simple acts can have profound effects. As the Mandarin saying goes, “do not do bad deeds just because they are minor, also do not forget kind deeds just because they are small”. Acts of kindness come in all forms and sizes, and I hope Singaporeans will continue to show this spirit of care, as we partner citizens in building a more caring society.

2 Translation: Beyond improved infrastructure, it is important that our elderly continue to be uplifted by new experiences and skills. To this end, our heritage institutions, comprising the Malay Heritage Centre, Indian Heritage Centre and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, have been developing Silver Hub initiatives, to develop enriching, senior-friendly programmes and serve as community spaces for our elderly to come together.

For example, we recently introduced ‘Reminiscence Walks’, a programme that is both facilitated and attended by seniors. Through this programme, senior volunteers will be trained to guide other seniors on tours of historic precincts. The interaction between seniors also serves as a therapeutic platform for bonds and friendships to be formed, reducing the risk of social isolation.

Speeches 2019
Last updated on 08 March 2019