A home where we belong, bond and build the future together
Speech by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law at the Committee of Supply Debate 2023
06 March 2023
An enduring social compact where we stand and act as one united people
- Good afternoon, Mr Chairperson. First I want to thank all members for their continued support for MCCY’s work.
- Unity lies at the heart of what we do at MCCY.
a. Our work spans many sectors: arts, heritage, sports, youth, our community and volunteerism.
b. These are all threads which bind us to one another, and give us a shared stake in building Singapore together.
c. This unity has also enabled us to achieve success as a country and bounce back from crises.
- As Mr Sitoh Yoh Pin points out, Singapore’s social compact is based on building a diverse yet cohesive Singapore.
a. Mr Baey Yam Keng also spoke about citizens coming together to solve problems at a community and also at the national level.
- It was precisely to strengthen our civic bonds that we launched Singapore Together in 2019.
a. It marked a shift towards deeper partnerships between the Government and Singaporeans, and also amongst Singaporeans themselves.
b. We engaged Singaporeans on national issues like women’s development and also on our long-term land use plan,
c. and partnered them to develop solutions on complex issues through citizens’ panels and Alliances for Action.
- Forward Singapore extends this collaborative style of governance to further the shifts needed to strengthen our social compact,
a. because a sustainable social compact requires the investment and also the co-ownership of all of us in society.
- Since the launch of the Forward Singapore exercise, over 14,000 Singaporeans from all walks of life have come together
a. to discuss what we want to see for Singapore’s future,
b. and - perhaps more importantly – what each of us is willing to do, to get us there.
- The contributions of Singaporeans will shape and strengthen the eventual recommendations and the outcomes of Forward Singapore.
- Under the Unite Pillar, our focus is to deepen our sense of belonging, strengthen our bonds, and also entrench our sense of mutual responsibility and care towards each other.
- One theme that came through strongly from all these conversations was that unity in Singapore’s context entails embracing diversity.
a. It is not about being the same but being able to engage across all our differences
b. And it is also about being stronger than the sum of our parts.
- Participants spoke about deepening our shared culture, heritage and experiences.
a. They spoke of creating opportunities for all of us to interact and connect with each other, and how the arts and sports are integral in this respect.
b. They spoke of bringing people across racial, religious and generational lines together, to work on issues that matter to them.
- My colleagues and I will address the various cuts raised by members, and speak of MCCY’s work that strengthen our core identity.
Singapore where all belong
- Let me start with our arts and heritage, which connect us across communities and across generations. They help us deepen our sense of shared identity.
- Sir, today, we have an established and vibrant arts and heritage scene.
a. Our national cultural institutions, museums, galleries, as well as arts and culture groups offer diverse programmes throughout the year.
i. And in fact recently, the Peranakan Museum and also the Children’s Museum Singapore re-opened and opened their doors with refreshed and interactive exhibits to tell our Singapore story.
b. We also continue to celebrate Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage and traditional art forms. These include activities organised by clan associations or arts practitioners which feature dialects as suggested by Mr Dennis Tan, and as Mr Tan knows, this is already being done.
i. We have performances such as Nanyin and Teochew Opera by Siong Leng Musical Association and Nam Hwa Opera respectively.
ii. This is recognising that Chinese dialects are part of the Singapore Chinese culture and heritage, even as the Government maintains its existing language policy of promoting the use of Mandarin as one of our four official languages.
- The Government is committed to growing the arts and heritage sectors.
a. Government funding has held steady in these sectors. Over the last 10 years or so, MCCY has committed public spending on arts and heritage at about $450 million every year.
b. In addition, during Covid, we rolled out the $75 million Arts and Culture and Resilience Package to support our practitioners during the pandemic and injected an additional $12 million to help ensure that our talent is preserved and support the continued transformation of the arts and heritage sector.
c. Our arts spaces have also grown over the years. Just taking arts GFA managed by the National Arts Council (NAC) alone, this has increased by 35% over the period 2010-2020, and this excludes other arts spaces which exist in the private and commercial spaces.
- We also continue to support arts and heritage organisations to diversify their income streams via fundraising, with the Cultural Matching Fund and the Sustain the Arts (stART) Fund.
- Mr Sitoh Yih Pin, Ms Tin Pei Ling, Mr Raj Joshua Thomas and Mr Xie Yao Quan asked about our plans for the arts and heritage sectors.
- Sir, the first edition of Our SG Arts and Heritage plans gave us a strong foundation, gave us a firm footing to launch the next chapter of the Arts and Heritage plans. Even during the pandemic, the sectors responded with resolve and enhanced their capabilities.
a. As we emerge from the pandemic, we do want to consolidate the gains and unlock new opportunities that have come our way.
b. It is thus timely to embark on a journey together with the sectors to envision the future.
- Over the past 20 months, NAC and National Heritage Board (NHB) have consulted over 2000 stakeholders on the next edition of Our SG Arts and Heritage Plans.
a. Many more provided their feedback online and also during roadshows across the island.
b. These engagements are important, as we want these two plans to be co-created and co-owned with the arts and heritage communities.
- Through the process I met many arts and heritage practitioners.
a. They shared with me how the arts and heritage sectors in Singapore have indeed come a long way, as many members here have appreciated, and how we can take these sectors, building on the strengths that we have, standing on the shoulders of the giants that have come before us to take us to the next phase.
- Let me share some of the key shifts we will be making.
- For Our SG Arts Plan (2023 – 2027), we will place greater focus on the Creative Economy.
a. Mr Xie Yao Quan spoke about helping the arts sector grow and develop these new capabilities.
b. We agree. We have heard from arts practitioners and observed during the pandemic that increasing collaborations between the arts and adjacent industries present many opportunities for Singapore artists.
c. They can cultivate new audiences and markets, and develop new revenue streams.
- NAC will thus be looking at new focus areas such as intellectual property rights, new business models, and digital adoption,
a. These measures will help artists and arts groups achieve greater growth and success.
b. They will help them to deepen their reach to existing audiences, and broaden their exposure to new ones.
- In addition, with the upcoming University of the Arts Singapore, students will benefit from existing programmes offered by LASALLE and NAFA as well as new programmes to meet the needs of the creative economy.
a. Our plans to grow the creative economy through our arts plan will in turn create better job prospects and pathways for our future graduates.
- In the next bound, there will be greater focus on increasing access to the arts, and creating more occasions for people to share meaningful experiences through the arts.
a. And we will do this by adopting a data-driven approach to better understand the needs and preferences of audiences and also by expanding partnerships to increase touchpoints.
- We will also leverage technology and innovation to expand the playing field for the arts.
- My colleague MOS Low will elaborate further on Our SG Arts Plan when she speaks.
- On art spaces, we agree with Mr Darryl David that spaces for the arts are crucial in the arts ecosystem.
- The government has in fact been deliberate in developing spaces for the arts, ensuring that
a. they are used optimally and efficiently; and
b. there are also fair access and inclusive opportunities – especially for new groups and younger practitioners.
- We now have a diverse range of arts spaces.
a. Artists can collaborate with each other at multi-tenanted arts housing spaces managed by NAC.
b. MCCY and NAC also facilitate arts groups to take up direct leases on state properties and in commercial developments.
- In developing arts spaces, we engage closely with the arts community and also work to co-create spaces, and to think of ideas on how to use these spaces with members of the community.
a. We have been working closely with the arts community, for example, to co-develop 45 Armenian Street,
i. We set up a Resource Panel, comprising private arts practitioners, an actor, an independent music producer, arts academics, and also a former Chair of the Substation
ii. To give their views, discuss ideas and think about what the next 45 Armenian Street might look like.
iii. our shared goal: to ensure that the space will remain an inclusive one that supports artistic experimentation, and the development of young practitioners.
b. We have received the Resource Panel’s recommendations.
c. And NAC will build upon these recommendations to guide the development and design for 45 Armenian Street, and this is one example. Another example is Kampong Java, another space that I have spoken about previously.
- Sir, let me now turn to Our SG Heritage Plan.
- Mr Sitoh Yih Pin asked about our plans to safeguard our National Monuments.
a. Sir, we regularly restore our National Monuments to preserve the buildings for posterity and for our future generations.
- I had announced in 2021 that we will be restoring the Istana main building and the former Istana Kampong Gelam.
- Restoration works for the main Istana building is expected to commence early next year.
a. The Istana has featured prominently in Singapore’s transition from colony to sovereign state.
b. The upcoming restoration works will ensure that it will remain well-preserved and functional for its historical importance and as a venue for important state functions and community events.
- The former Istana Kampong Gelam which houses the Malay Heritage Centre has also closed for restoration and a gallery revamp, following the MHC ClosingFest last year.
a. Two other National Monuments housing the National Museum of Singapore, and Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, are also scheduled for restoration.
- In addition to preserving our places, we have enriched the Singapore story also with treasures in our National Collection.
a. Beyond physical objects and buildings, we have safeguarded and showcased our intangible cultural heritage.
- We have also deepened our collaboration with Singaporeans through co-created exhibitions and programmes.
a. Mr Hazmi Zin from Rumah Makan Minang, for example, was one of 45 business owners who participated in the Kampong Gelam Citizen Engagement Project and his participation along with others have enriched our understanding of the precinct’s cultural heritage.
- For the second edition of Our SG Heritage Plan, we will make a bigger push to reflect a more layered understanding of the Singapore identity.
a. Design, such as fashion, craft, and architecture, is an important expression of our cultural identity, and a catalyst for creativity and innovation.
b. We have some top class designers in Singapore among us, and we want Singaporeans to see their works and be proud of their achievements.
c. We will therefore expand the National Collection to include design.
d. We also hope to strengthen the ties between our museums and the design community and industry.
- Sir, Singaporeans have shared with us their strong desire to be more involved in heritage.
a. NHB will therefore explore new ways for Singaporeans to get involved in presenting and sharing our heritage with others.
- We will also support the heritage sector by using technology.
- MOS Low will elaborate on these plans when she speaks.
A Singapore with strong bonds of mutual trust and community
- Sir, like arts and heritage, sport brings people together. We want to optimise our sporting facilities and spaces to encourage more people to come together, socialise and play together.
- In this spirit, we took over the ownership and management of the Singapore Sports Hub, toa
a. unlock its full potential,
b. make the Sports Hub more accessible to all Singaporeans, and
c. achieve deeper integration with the rest of the Kallang Alive Precinct.
- We set up Kallang Alive Sport Management Company (KASM) which operates under the ambit of Sport Singapore.
a. This will ensure stronger alignment between what the Government aims to achieve and the KPIs that KASM will have to aspire towards.
b. This project has shown early signs of success.
- Mr Darryl David and Mr Xie Yao Quan also asked about the developments following the takeover and our plans ahead. Let me share some brief highlights with members.
- Under the new management team, we have had many activities in the past three months alone. We took over on the 9th of December last year so it has been three months.
a. These events and activities include performances by live bands and dance groups, as well as community events
i. such as the FunFam SportFest, a Big Walk event to usher in the New Year and a Chinese New Year Stadium Waterfront Carnival. Last weekend I was at the Sports Hub and I saw many casual joggers, kids with their families playing football and basketball. It rained a lot, but we could use the promenade – an area around the 100-plus track – to great effect.
b. Student-athletes have also been participating in the National School Games at the Sports Hub.
c. In the coming months, members of the public can look forward to more of such activities, including some National School Games finals, the National Stadium Open Houses, as well as grassroots events.
- Let me assure Mr Mark Chay that KASM is indeed working closely with all its partners, including the NSAs, to deliver more community programmes, but also to ensure there is more synergy across the board.
a. I thank Mr Mark Chay for his efforts to market the Sports Hub programmes. We are also stepping up our communication efforts by leveraging social media, word of mouth and engaging our partners to bring more Singaporeans to the Sports Hub by raising awareness of the events and activities that we will have at the Sports Hub.
- At the same time, concerts and marquee sport events have also experienced an upswing.
- A few weeks ago, we hosted Westlife which sold out for three consecutive nights.
a. This was not withstanding that on one of the days, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ performance was competing for eyeballs just across the road at the National Stadium. Both were sold out. Both on a weekday night, no less.
b. The two concerts welcomed more than 50,000 people.
- In the coming months, Singaporeans can look forward to world-renowned entertainment events
a. such as Harry Styles and Blackpink,
b. as well as marquee sports events,
c. such as the World Table Tennis Singapore Smash happening this week and next, and the HSBC Singapore Rugby Sevens happening next month.
d. We also have FIBA, which is the International Basketball Association, holding its Intercontinental Cup in Singapore for the very first time.
- Sir, there is a whole suite of activities for everyone, from community and sporting events for children, youth, families, and seniors, to international marquee events.
- The developments in the larger Kallang Alive precinct are also on track, with the Kallang Football Hub with 4 sheltered and 3 unsheltered pitches and Kallang Tennis Centre comprising 7 indoor and 12 outdoor courts due to be completed later this year.
- With these developments, we will move towards using more of the whole Kallang Alive Precinct in synergy, to offer a greater array of international sporting events, alongside local programming.
a. For instance, we can combine the facilities at the OCBC Arena, the Singapore Indoor Stadium and the new Kallang Tennis Centre,
i. And be able to confidently bring in a marquee sporting event such as an ATP1000 tennis event.
b. In parallel, Singaporeans in the community can try out the sport at the community level, at community tennis sessions for example.
c. Or, tennis clinics for social competitive players and aspiring athletes, youth competitions, and so on.
d. So we will have a whole ecosystem of sports across a diverse range of sporting levels.
e. All integrated with the other upcoming lifestyle and entertainment offerings.
- For our national teams, let me assure Mr Mark Chay that the National Sports Associations (NSAs) continue to be prioritised in the booking of Sports Hub and ActiveSG facilities for national team trainings.
- In fact, with the Government now taking charge of the Sports Hub facilities, we can better optimise the use of these facilities across various uses.
a. For example, SportSG worked with Singapore Gymnastics to ensure that our gymnasts could train at Sengkang Sport Hall, while their usual training venue at OCBC Arena Hall was activated to host the Singapore International Rhythmic Gymnastics Cup. So we had one international gymnastics event at the usual training centre, but at the same time we could use other spaces within our facilities across the island to continue the tempo of national training unabated.
- Our plans for the Sports Hub and Kallang Alive precinct are part of a larger Sports Facilities Master Plan (SFMP) to develop and refresh National Training Centres (NTCs) for elite athlete training, and sports facilities across Singapore for all Singaporeans to enjoy.
- Mr Mohd Fahmi Bin Aliman asked about plans to enhance sports participation and Ms Hany Soh asked how we can ensure accessibility of community sports.
- Sir, we have seen more people participating in sport and exercise regularly.
a. Let me give members a sense based on our numbers. Based on our National Sport Participation Survey, residents who participate in sport and exercise regularly at least once a week has risen from 54% in 2015 to 66% in 2019.
b. And even during the COVID pandemic period, this continued to rise to 74% in 2022, which all are very encouraging signs.
c. These indicators show that more Singaporeans are keen to get more active.
- In addition to the sport events at the Sports Hub I shared earlier, the public enjoy sporting activities across Singapore.
a. In 2022, 148 community leagues and competitions were organised across 19 ActiveSG Sport Centres. And bear in mind that in 2022, for part of that period at least, we were not able to come out and have such events, we had more than a hundred events and leagues at our 19 ActiveSG Sport Centres across Singapore.
i. These involve more than 13,000 participants, including young children and seniors.
b. Last year, we introduced the ActiveSG Cup which saw more than 1,300 participants across two sports – Basketball and Football.
i. This year, we plan to introduce two more – Floorball and Volleyball.
- Sir, we see the value in life-long learning, even in sports and active participation in exercise. And we want to cultivate interest and participation in sports when we are much younger.
a. Therefore, all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents aged 4 to 12 years old will receive a top-up of $100 worth of ActiveSG credits.
b. This will apply to all who are ActiveSG members or those who sign up as new members between 1 May and 31 October this year.
c. Parents may use these credits to offset the cost of their children’s ActiveSG programmes and cover their entry fees into ActiveSG facilities such as our swimming pools.
d. This I hope, will encourage more children to play together with their peers, neighbours, families outside of structured school sport participation.
- We are working hard to build more and better sporting facilities throughout Singapore. We will enhance access and also step up on having a greater variety of programmes at these facilities.
a. Our hope is that every Singaporean will have ample opportunity to enjoy, engage and excel in sports.
- To Mr Sharael Taha and Mr Muhamad Faisal Abdul Manap, their questions on developing Singapore football, we launched Unleash the Roar! in 2021 to develop a strong local pipeline of football talent.
- This is a long-term plan we have been putting in place to:
a. grow a broad base of participation,
b. to identify talented players from a young age, and
c. provide talented players with rigorous training and structured opportunities to be coached well, to compete regularly, and to have a clear pathway to the national team. Let me elaborate on the next few steps we have for our young talents.
- Since 2021, we established 12 School Football Academies (SFAs), of which two have dedicated programmes for girls.
a. We will expand the number of SFAs and also increase the programme intake over the year.
b. These SFAs together with the Singapore Sports School, ActiveSG Football Academy as well as all private clubs and academies in Singapore,
i. They provide a broad base of participation for us to identify suitable talent.
ii. And this will be our foundational base.
- We will put in place a national framework to systematically select and develop the best players from this broad base. We will take the following steps.
- First, we will set up a national football development centre as the main training centre for all our national youth squads.
a. Our best young footballers aged 13 to 17 will be drawn from all available pipelines I described earlier to these Squads.
b. This centre will be our primary pathway for selection to our national team. One central, cohesive path.
i. Within this centre, players will be selected into core and also reserve teams, and we will review them periodically. Why? Because we do not want anyone to be too comfortable or too complacent, and we want to ensure that throughout the squads across different age groups, there is competitive tension.
c. These boys and girls will train and compete regularly as a team.
d. We are looking at setting up a youth league, that will give our players regular opportunity to be competing at high levels.
i. They will also from time to time, come together to know each other, train and play together, and on occasion, to compete overseas for even further exposure.
e. These players will also be supported with a comprehensive suite of sport science, nutrition, and sports medicine.
- Second, Mr Faishal Manap and Mr Sharael Taha raised points on talent identification and scouting. These are very important to us. We are a small nation, and we need to ensure that we have our eyes on all available talent all the time.
a. We will progressively roll out training on talent identification for coaches, and strengthen our scouts’ capabilities in identifying the best of our young footballers.
b. We also want to tap on the experience of our ex national players and coaches, who already have an eye for talent, having taken part at the highest level of the game. We will invite them to be trained and be part of our scouting network.
- Third, on coaching.
a. To ensure consistency in our training and development ecosystem, a common coaching syllabus is being used across the SFAs and the national youth squads.
i. More than 500 coaches and teachers have already been trained with this curriculum to date.
b. We will also introduce coach licensing and renewal after coaches have acquired the necessary Continuing Coach Education hours.
c. We will also find suitable opportunities for our coaches to learn from the best, to be immersed in an environment and have an experience of what it is like to be coaching at the highest level.
i. For example, our partnership with Spanish LaLiga has allowed us to bring in experienced youth coaches from Spain to augment our local coaches, as well as provide overseas learning opportunities for them.
- Last but certainly not least, we will launch the inaugural UTR scholarship later this year.
a. Our best young footballers will be sent to overseas academies that offer good-quality education alongside the best football training and competitive environment.
i. Sir, we know that receiving a good quality education is important for our young boys and girls. Therefore, through this stint, they will come back with academic qualifications that will allow them to continue future studies at the tertiary level in Singapore or overseas.
ii. Even as they train and compete with the best, amongst the overseas talents.
iii. We will start this program this year and we are considering a good academy in Europe to kick off this programme.
b. At the same time, similar local scholarships will also be available for suitable footballers who choose to enrol in the Singapore Sports School.
i. Through this, we hope to prepare them for future overseas programme and scholarships opportunities, and also spur more footballers to be enrolled in a full-time programme for their football development.
c. More details of the scholarship will be shared when ready.
- For footballers with NS obligations, in other words, after they return and finish their stint, early enlistment is a possibility. We have seen with some, such as Irfan Fandi.
a. Eligible footballers can tap on existing support avenues to continue training and competing, while at the same time fulfilling NS obligations.
- Sir, developing talent takes time, and our focus is on laying a strong foundation for long-term growth and learning.
a. We are putting in place a systematic infrastructure to expand, nurture and develop this pool of young players at the base level, starting from when they are 13.
b. The best will be identified and put on into the national development centre as I outlined.
c. They will play and compete regularly, both locally and overseas.
d. Over time, this initiative will provide us with a steady pipeline of players to choose from.
e. It will take time. And much as I know that all of us are vested in the outcome of Singapore’s football, l will ask for all our continued support to this system to ensure that our younger players have a chance to progress and become the available pool for future national team selection.
- Sir, let me turn now to the management of community disputes. Many members have spoken about this. The strength of our cohesive society, in my view, is not found only in what we have in common but also manifests in how we negotiate our differences and deal with conflicts that inevitably arise.
- Ms Joan Pereira, Ms Cheng Li Hui and Mr Xie Yao Quan asked about enhancements to the Community Dispute Management Framework (CDMF).
- An inter-agency workgroup, led by MCCY, together with MinLaw and MND, has been conducting a review of the CDMF.
a. SMS Sim Ann and I have already spoken about the enhancements in different areas relevant to MND and MinLaw’s COS respectively.
- To pull it all together, let me reiterate how we are enhancing this framework.
- First, we want to promote community norms as our first line of defence. I think SMS Sim Ann made that very clear. And I too reiterated that when I spoke in my MinLaw capacity.
a. Clearer social norms encourage the self-management of behaviours.
b. As SMS Sim Ann has shared in MND’s COS speech, MSO has been working with partners to promote community norms for noise management recommended by the Community Advisory Panel on Neighbourhood Noise.
- Second, we are looking at allowing dedicated personnel to leverage stronger laws and help these neighbours resolve issues upstream. In other words, before they get to a stage where it becomes intransigent or intractable and have to go for the Community Disputes Resolution Tribunals to resolve their differences.
a. For instance, this team will be able to conduct investigations, or direct residents to attend mandatory mediation or stop the actions that are causing the nuisance, pending mediation or adjudication.
b. As SMS Sim Ann shared last week, MSO will be piloting this with disputes arising from serious noise disturbances between neighbours.
c. We will also explore consequences for recalcitrant offenders who fail to stop the actions as required.
- Third, we will increase access to community mediation and mandate mediation for certain types of disputes between neighbours. Let me explain why we start with noise and why we also pilot this project with noise.
- In 2022, noise-related disputes made up about 65% of all the neighbour related disputes registered for mediation at MinLaw’s Community Mediation Centre, and this trend by and large has been consistently so over the past few years. In other words, they form the bulk of all cases registered for mediation.
a. In many cases, clear expectations on acceptable community behaviours as well as a mutual appreciation of what the parties are facing would go a long way in improving the situation.
b. Hence, we want to encourage disputing neighbours to find an amicable, mediated settlement of their disputes as far as possible.
c. To support mediation services, we will expand the pool of mediators as well as forward deploy them as far as possible into the community, so that it is not all centralised at the CMC.
d. We will also give mediation settlement agreements more teeth and standing, to encourage greater compliance with mediated outcomes.
- Finally, we will also enhance the processes and powers of the CDRT, as an avenue of last resort, to give affected residents faster and more effective relief. And this we have to do, because with all these steps that we take, by the time the case ends up at the CDRT, there would have been numerous attempts at mediation and reconciliation, and these would probably represent the most intransigent and intractable cases. We want an efficient, effective and speedy framework to deal with these cases.
a. And this is what I elaborated on during MinLaw’s COS.
- Sir, we have a comprehensive set of enhancements. But each do not work in silos, they work together to
a. drive the right behaviour, and
b. actively facilitate the resolution of disputes at an early stage in a way that best preserves the relations between neighbours.
- Let me emphasise: Even though we are looking at strengthening the teeth of mediation and leveraging stronger laws, have these should not be used as a first recourse.
- We interact with our neighbours daily. Most of us want to live peacefully side by side with our neighbours.
a. When disputes arise and intervention is needed, we encourage disputing neighbours to go through mediation as far as possible.
b. Mediation allows parties to talk to each other about the issues that vex them and through the assistance of trained, and often times, very effective mediators, find a common path.
c. It helps to preserve and in some cases even mend or make better the relations between neighbours.
- We invite residents to share their views when we conduct the public consultation on the proposed CDMF enhancements later this year.
Working together to build a better society for each other
- Sir, our diversity which members and I have spoken about, must be harnessed for the common good.
a. We need the diverse strengths and talents from the community to tackle the challenges we face as a nation and build Singapore’s future together.
- Our youths play a crucial role in this regard. Youths today are well-informed, more prepared and more ready to discuss policies. They want to engage with us to discuss policies.
- Ms Tin Pei Ling asked about engaging youths. MCCY and the National Youth Council (NYC) have continued to engage and partner youths on national issues in different ways. Let me elaborate.
a. These include policy co-creation platforms such as the Youth Circles, and programmes such as the Youth Action Challenge that supports them not just in talking about these ideas, or listening to suggestions, but to turn their ideas into action.
- From our ForwardSG engagements, we continue to see a very healthy, sustained interest in policy making and want to create more opportunities to meet these aspirations.
a. So MCCY and NYC are exploring ways to create more policy space, and also work on how to institutionalise the involvement of more youths in policymaking, and elevate their proposals for consideration on a national platform.
b. We will share more details when this is ready.
- Ms Yeo Wan Ling asked about our plans to expand our youth leadership programmes.
- To provide younger student leaders the opportunity to engage on national issues and build strong networks,
a. NYC and the National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI), in partnership with MOE, piloted the inaugural Our Singapore Leadership Programme (OSLP) last year.
b. This was a programme for about 50 Secondary 4 students from MOE schools and Madrasahs. It took place in December 2022.
- All the student leaders who participated in this inaugural OSLP were from different schools. In other words, we had about 53 students from 53 different schools. “Leader” is defined broadly. Some were heads of student councils, some were participants in their dance groups, some were captains of sports teams or leaders of their uniform groups.
a. They came together to reflect on and discuss issues which confront Singapore.
b. They grappled with trade-offs and complexities of policy designs.
c. They expanded their networks and forged new friendships.
- We found this programme very successful, and we want to give more youths this opportunity to take part.
a. From 2023, we will expand the programme to nominated Secondary 4 students from all MOE schools and Madrasahs in Singapore.
b. For students from the institutes of higher learning, NYC will develop a new leadership programme. More details will be shared when ready.
- Mr Xie Yao Quan has pointed out, and I agree with him, there is value in promoting active citizenry, volunteerism and collaboration, and these traits must continue to underpin our society and our social compact.
a. Beyond youths, we are encouraging individuals and corporates to play an even more active role to come together, work for the social good, leverage on corporate purpose and uplift our communities.
b. We will therefore expand and deepen the capabilities of our SG Cares Volunteer Centres. We will resource them better, so that they in turn can support the various social service agencies that are under their watch or working with, so that they can better channel volunteers and donations-in-kind to meet unmet needs.
c. We will also support businesses in their efforts to be a force for good for society,
i. as they design their business practices and operations in ways that benefit their employees, stakeholders, and of course, the wider community they serve.
d. MOS Alvin will share more details when he speaks.
- Mr Don Wee asked how our Self-help Groups (SHGs) are collaborating to enhance outcomes across ethnic communities.
a. While the SHGs were set up to provide customised support for their various respective ethnic communities.
b. They also work together and strengthen mutual support across the different ethnic communities.
- For example, the SHGs will launch a series of inter-SHG Youth Dialogues centering around themes emerging from the on-going Forward Singapore exercise. This will happen in mid-2023.
a. These dialogues will bring together young people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and empower them to develop and lead ground up solutions.
- The SHGs will also create more opportunities for volunteers to interact and serve with one another across the different SHGs. We do not have volunteers from an SHG that only come from a particular ethnic group that an SHG serves, it is open, and we encourage all volunteers to come from a broad spectrum of ethnic groups to serve the broader spectrum of society through the SHGs.
- These efforts by our SHGs embody the Singapore Together spirit – Singaporeans, diverse as we may be, stepping forward, working together and building a better nation.
- Mr Chairman, to conclude, I have spoken about our various MCCY initiatives, and my colleagues that follow will elaborate on many of these. But our principle focus is
a. to deepen our roots and expand the reach of our arts and heritage;
b. to promote sporting participation and excellence both at the community and professional level; and
c. to foster neighbourliness, care and active citizenry as part of our unique Singaporean DNA.
- These efforts speak to what it means to call Singapore our home.
a. Our home is not just a physical space.
b. It is how we see ourselves, all of us as connected and bound to others in Singapore – through arts, heritage, culture, sports and religion.
- It is about who we are as a people, our shared experiences, what we do to care for each other, look out for one another, and the values we hold dear and live by.
a. These are the threads that bind us and hold our social compact together. These are the threads that run through each of us as Singaporeans
b. Growing these aspects of Singapore is delicate work, but it is important. It requires the commitment of all of us, regardless of race, language, religion, and social economic backgrounds.
- On its part, MCCY will continue to work with Singaporeans, join our strengths and inspire a spirit of collective action to build an enduring social compact where we stand and act as one united people, and we are proud to call Singapore our home.
- Thank you, Mr Chairman.
Last updated on 15 March 2023