Inclusivity, racial harmony, care and resilience are among the shared traits that will help Singapore moving forward.
Although COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on Singapore and strongly impacted our lives, it has also given us opportunities to emerge stronger.
In light of this, the National Youth Council (NYC) is organising a series of four Zoom sessions to hear youth’s opinions on the Singapore Spirit and what shared values will help Singapore unite and emerge stronger as a nation from this challenge.
The first session was held on Jun 8, involving a total of 60 students from different Madrasahs and four panellists, including Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State (MOS) of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, and Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The session, hosted by comedian Rishi Budhrani, highlighted some distinct traits that the youth thought made up the Singapore Spirit.
During the session, participants shared that multiculturalism is one of the key distinguishing qualities that make up the Singapore Spirit.
One student facilitator mentioned that Singapore is embodied by many different races and everyone has to work together in order to achieve a harmonious society and environment.
Participants observed that as Singaporeans mostly embrace racial and religious diversity; they do not discriminate against other races or religions and are keen to learn about cultures outside of their own, including festivals and food.
In light of instances of racism and xenophobia in our society, participants called for Singaporeans to combat these incidents by staying united.
“The Singapore Spirit is multicultural, caring, resilient and inclusive. It is NOT selfish, racist and self-promoting. Our youth are incredible. They have ideals and ideas,” said Mr Tan, who also emphasised the need to recognise and take action against racism.
SGAG content creator Nur Syafiqa, popularly known as Sya, also shared: “‘It’s my responsibility to raise awareness, for example with the things that are happening recently, I will call them out to show that this is not okay (to my followers).
“I will be careful with my words, but also share my opinion, rather than just keeping quiet, because if I keep quiet, it means I am not showing the reality of the situation on the ground.”
Participants shared that being competitive is a Singaporean trait, but some questioned whether being competitive is a good trait to have.
Three-time silat world champion Sheik Farhan shared: “If you are competitive to better yourself to get to your passion, that’s fine, but if you get to the point where you are too competitive and bring down others to bring yourself up, that’s obviously wrong.
“You don’t benefit yourself, because in the end you are too focused on someone else and you fail to see your own flaws.”
In order for Singapore to emerge stronger from COVID-19, participants said that traits like resilience, care, inclusivity and being future-ready are very important. They also discussed the need to care for everyone by assisting all segments of society, especially the vulnerable groups.
Participants mentioned positive examples of how Singaporeans would donate technical devices to help lower-income students with Home-Based Learning (HBL) and buy food from elder hawkers who may not know much about food delivery.
Another student facilitator, Nur Zahratul Humaira, shared on behalf of her group: “Although the frontliners face some backlash, most people stood up for them and that is a very good sign that we are being caring towards one another.”
In response to the question of what is lacking in the Singapore Spirit, NYC council member and Nominated Member of Parliament Shahira Abdullah shared that though not lacking, we will always need more conscious intention and sincerity underlying the trait of care.
She said: “Sometimes we do things for our own gain, but I think something that needs to shine through is the fact that you are not doing it for your CCA points, you’re not doing it for your scholarship, but you’re doing it because you truly care about the other person, you truly care for the other people, the other communities who are struggling and that is something that can shine a lot more.”
She then urged the participants to seek available and reliable resources to take action and care for the community.
Additionally, Singaporeans have to be resilient to overcome change. It is a tough time for everyone but it is also important for the Government and citizens to continue working together to prepare and be ready for the new normal.
As Singapore prepares for the future, Zahratul said on behalf of her group: “Being future ready doesn’t mean you are only advanced in terms of technology, but it also means that we need to adapt quickly to changes, especially in the unknown future.”
Find out more about the other sessions in the Conversations on Singapore Spirit here.
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