Conversations on Singapore Spirit (Session 1 – 8 June 2021)
The first in a series of four conversations on the Singapore Spirit was held on 8 June 2021 via Zoom, involving 50 students from various Madrasahs and the following panellists:
- Mr Alvin Tan – Minister of State (MOS) of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry
- Ms Shahira Abdullah – NYC Council Member and Nominated Member of Parliament
- Mr Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau’ddin – Singapore Youth Award (SYA) recipient and three-time Silat World Champion
- Ms Nurul Syafiqa a.k.a. SYA – SGAG Influencer
Here are the key insights of the conversation raised by the students:
Racial harmony is a key attribute of the Singapore Spirit
- Embracing racial and religious diversity – Participants said that multiculturalism was one of the key distinguishing qualities of the Singapore Spirit. They observed that Singaporeans did not discriminate against other races or religions and were keen to know more about cultures outside their own, including different cultures’ food and festivities.
- Combating incidents of racism – Participants acknowledged instances of racism and xenophobia in society and called for Singaporeans to remain united against such threats to our racial harmony. Minister of State (MOS) Alvin Tan recognised that the struggle against racism was long-standing and further amplified by social media. He emphasised the need to take action against racism and highlight stories of racial and religious harmony within Singapore. SGAG influencer Nur Syafiqah concurred and said that instances of racism should be called out, and addressed to maintain racial harmony in Singapore.
Emerging stronger as a nation
Resilience, care, inclusivity and being future-ready are crucial for Singapore to emerge stronger from the pandemic.
- Caring for everyone in society – Participants said we should uplift and assist all segments of society through the pandemic, and ensure that our vulnerable groups are not left behind. Participants cited examples of citizens donating technical devices to help lower-income students with Home-Based Learning (HBL), and helping buy food from elder hawkers who are less tech-savvy with food delivery platforms. The central role of care and inclusivity in the Singapore Spirit was echoed by MOS Alvin. NYC Council Member and Nominated Member of Parliament Shahira Abdullah said that youths have the ability to create change, and she encouraged participants to seek available resources and funding to take action to care for the community and society.
- Being resilient to overcome change – Participants said that in spite of the discouragement Singaporeans might feel due to the pandemic, it was important for the Government and citizens to continue working in tandem so that the nation could progress toward a new normal together.
- Preparing for the future – Participants recognised that technological advancement would enable us to be future-ready. Ms. Shahira emphasised that being future-ready also included the exploration and discovery of oneself in addition to being able to tap on resource networks.
Competitiveness may not necessarily be a negative trait of Singaporeans
- Participants questioned whether competitiveness is a good trait to have as part of the Singapore Spirit. Three-time silat world champion Mr Farhan shared that a healthy dose of competitiveness was beneficial to motivate and better oneself, but also cautioned the detriments of being overly competitive.