Conversations on Singapore Spirit (Session 4 - 3 July 2021)
The final session of NYC’s Conversations on Singapore Spirit was held on 3 July via Zoom. In this session, youth share ideas, shared values, and actionable on how to keep Singapore strong as it emerges from the pandemic.
The panellists for this session are:
- Mr Edwin Tong – Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law
- Mr Brian Liu – NYC Council Member & Senior Vice President, People, Lazada
- Mr Fauzi Aziz – Host & Personality, from The Smart Local
- Ms Annette Lee – Influencer and Content Creator
Here are the key insights of the conversation raised by participants:
Embracing diversity and differences in a multicultural society
- Multiculturalism is a defining trait of the Singapore Spirit – Participants said that multiculturalism was a key trait of the Singapore Spirit. They shared their lived experiences of mutual respect and racial harmony in Singapore, and their interactions with different cultures. Mr Fauzi said that Singaporeans displayed gotong royong (mutual assistance), as shown in recent incidents of people coming together to help each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Moving towards greater empathy and inclusiveness – Participants disapproved of the recent spate of racist incidents and emphasised the need for greater acceptance of differences. Minister Edwin agreed with participants’ call for society to be more inclusive. He encouraged Singaporeans to move beyond tolerance, to embrace diversity.
More conversations are needed to build mutual understanding
- Fostering intercultural engagement – Participants called for more conversations on social issues and education to build intercultural skills among youth. They said that increased opportunities to engage with other cultures would instil awareness and appreciation for different cultures in Singapore.
- Connecting through respectful conversations – Panelists agreed that building nationwide empathy and acceptance begins with individual conversations. Ms Lee said that everyone has a unique perspective, and mindsets can be broadened by having meaningful interactions with those around us. Mr Liu agreed that rather than reacting in anger, youths should have the courage to call out problematic behaviour in a respectful manner.
Strengthening the Singapore Spirit together, from the ground up
- Supporting mental well-being – Panelists said the pandemic had resulted in social isolation and worsened people’s mental well-being. They called for the stigma surrounding mental health treatment to be removed. Participants discussed how experts, parents, teachers and peers could be better equipped through training to ensure holistic mental health support.
- Co-creating policies – Participants asked for more opportunities to co-create policies, and greater citizen involvement in the shaping of Singapore’s future. Minister Edwin acknowledged that the Government could do better in communicating the intention behind various policies, such as the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) that aimed to achieve interracial interaction and harmony. He affirmed participants’ aspiration of becoming a post-race society and acknowledged that it was a long-term goal for everyone to work towards.
Large group sharing infographic:
Panel discussion and closing infographic: