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Building a caring, cohesive and confident Singapore

Speech by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth at the MCCY Stakeholder Appreciation Dinner 2018
30 October 2018

Distinguished guests

Friends and colleagues

1. Good evening! A very warm welcome to all of you, and thank you for joining us. I always look forward to this occasion where we come together as one MCCY family

2. Tonight, we have members from the National Integration Council (NIC) with us for the first time. Welcome to the MCCY family! Since its inception in 2009, NIC has made progress in growing common spaces for Singaporeans, immigrants and foreigners, and to promote shared values and social norms for non-locals to settle into our society. Your work is an important part of MCCY’s mission. Thank you Council members for your contributions over the years, and I look forward to your continued support and celebrating the NIC’s 10th anniversary next year.

Together making Singapore home

3At the Committee of Supply debates earlier this year, I spoke in Parliament about the business of MCCY. It is really about building a home. When we think of “home”, we think of a place where we can rest after a long day’s work, filled with people we care for, and people who care for us. It is also a place which holds many memories for us, where we share our hopes and dreams. Home is where the heart is, and what MCCY does goes to the heart of our nation.

4Our work is as vital as ever. Singapore is facing headwinds of change, coming from a confluence of global forces like economic disruption, extremism and nativism. We are experiencing the rise of China and a global shift in the economic centre of gravity to Asia. Technology is disrupting everything, from industries and jobs, to the way we live, do business and interact with one another. We have witnessed a surge in an anti-immigration rhetoric in countries like the US and in Europe as well, which has impacted policies and elections. Geopolitical tensions continue to grow in the Middle East. And terrorism continues to be a global threat – as recently as in August, a radicalised Singaporean IT engineer was detained under the Internal Security Act. He had wanted to undertake armed violence in Syria in support of IS.

5Indeed, in today’s globalised world, Singapore is not immune to such threats and forces. These forces can put a strain on societies, including our own. Therefore, it is imperative that we strengthen our social fabric, so that we can stand in solidarity and remain resilient in the face of these challenges.

6Through our collective efforts over the past year, we have brought together Singaporeans of all cultures, faiths and walks of life. We have celebrated our people’s achievements; we have shown care for the vulnerable; we have fostered a deeper understanding and trust within and among diverse communities. Our surveys tell us that volunteerism is on the rise; our racial-religious harmony and sense of national identity also remain strong.

7We could not have done all this without your support. Whether as a board member, council member or committee member, all of you have made outstanding contributions to your respective sectors over the years. And tonight, we specially recognise 25 Friends of MCCY for working with us to build a 3C nation: a Singapore that is Caring, Cohesive and Confident.

A Caring People

8Mr Eugene Seow is one such example. As Vice-Chairman of the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre, Eugene has helped inspire the spirit of giving and volunteerism in Singapore. He also provided valuable insights in guiding the SG Cares movement as a member of the SG Cares Steering Committee. His experience in the social service and healthcare sectors has been helpful to MCCY, NVPC as well as our partners in NCSS to help the community of non-profit organisations, and build up their capabilities, strategies and leadership development. We share his vision for all Singaporeans to develop a heart of giving, as we build a more caring and inclusive society.

A Cohesive Society

9. Among us tonight are several other long-serving individuals who have helped strengthen our community bonds, and deepen our understanding of diverse cultures in Singapore.

10. For example, we have Ervad Rustom Ghadiali. Russi, as affectionately known to many of us, is an unwavering champion of inter-faith harmony. Having served in the Inter-Religious Organisation for more than 30 years, Russi is the only IRO member to have been elected as IRO President on three occasions. A strong supporter of inter-faith interactions, he led by example in promoting collaborations at the national and local levels through the years, and hosted many meals at his own home, simply to bring people together. Some of us may not be familiar with Russi’s small faith community of Zoroastrians, but we can certainly recognise Russi’s outstanding contributions to our social compact.

A Confident Nation

11. A confident nation is one in which our people are proud to be Singaporean. It also means having a strong sense of national identity. What makes us all Singaporean? What are the ties that bind us? This can be quite challenging to pin down, because we are a country of many races and religions. Our ancestors came from different places with different cultures – civilisations with rich histories and traditions. How do we then build a strong national identity?

12. This is why a shared culture, and a common set of memories, values and aspirations, become so important. It is why we are working to get hawker culture – something that every Singaporean can relate to – recognised by UNESCO. It is why we want an entire cohort of Secondary 3 students go through the Outward Bound Singapore experience, to create shared memories for all young Singaporeans. It is why we uphold meritocracy, self-reliance and a spirit of contribution as values key to the survival of Singapore. And it is why we celebrate our sporting heroes, our artists, and other Singaporeans who fly our flag high on the world stage. They inspire us towards excellence, and show the world that a small country like Singapore can punch above our weight.

13. One of Singapore’s sporting heroes happens to be with us tonight. Mr Razali Saad is an ex- national football captain. He grew up in a big family, and with his father being the sole breadwinner, Razali chipped in by helping to sell nasi lemak and kueh-kueh door-to-door every morning in the Marine Parade neighbourhood. Back in the 70s, Razali watched Malaysia Cup games with his father in the stands, and was inspired by his idols like Quah Kim Song, Samad Allapitchay and Mohamed Noh. At the age of 13, Razali began his sporting journey after passing a football trial. He rose through the ranks, representing Singapore at different age groups, culminating in a call-up to the national squad in the mid-80s. Razali assumed the captain’s armband in 1986 and won more than 50 caps with the Lions, including his participation at the 1984 Asian Cup.

14. Today, as vice-president of the Football Association of Singapore, and previously in his role as a board member of Sport Singapore, Razali continues to contribute to the development of sport in the country. Razali’s story is an inspiring one, because he worked hard, made full use of the opportunities given to him, and finally achieved his dream of representing Singapore on the global stage.

15. While I have shared the stories of just 3 Friends of MCCY, I would like to pay tribute to every single one of them. Please join me in giving all our Friends of MCCY a big round of applause!

Challenges for the future

16. Looking ahead, I’d like to raise three challenges for all of us to work together on. First, how can we partner more with one another, and explore new opportunities for different segments of society? For example, how do we encourage seniors who are active in the areas of culture to also consider Active Health, and go for on-boarding sessions?

17. Second, how can we deepen our engagement with our fellow Singaporeans? How can we co-create and co-deliver programmes with them, get them involved in the decision-making process, and make them part of the team?

18. Third, how can we embrace technology to engage citizens and achieve better outcomes? Many of us are digital citizens, spending much of our lives in the cyber-sphere. Hence, we must meet and engage people in these spaces as well. Of course, we must ensure that our technologies are user-centric, inclusive, and engaging. More importantly, we must be able to translate our online engagement to tangible impact in the real world.

Conclusion

19. It leaves me now to thank all of you once again for working tirelessly with us to build a better Singapore for our future generations. The journey has only just begun, and I look forward to many more years of fruitful partnership. In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful time catching up with old friends and meeting some new ones tonight. Enjoy the evening ahead!

Last Updated: 01 November 2018

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