Year-long engagements with Singaporeans to understand concerns about future will be held under Forward Singapore exercise
A report that sets out policy recommendations will be published by mid-2023.
Singapore’s fourth-generation team led by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong will embark on a year of engagements with Singaporeans to find out their concerns and feedback, before a report that sets out policy recommendations will be published in mid-2023.
This is all part of the Forward Singapore exercise launched by Mr Wong on Tuesday (Jun 28), as the 4G team seeks to review and refresh Singapore’s social compact and set out a roadmap for the next decade and beyond.
Forward Singapore was first announced in May by Mr Wong at the NTUC May Day Rally.
In a televised speech, Mr Wong said that the Forward Singapore exercise hopes to empower and equip Singaporeans, care for Singaporeans’ needs in this “volatile world”, build an even better home and steward environmental and financial resources to meet the needs of Singaporeans, and unite Singaporeans to pull together as one to take the nation forward.
These points will form the six pillars of the exercise, with each pillars overlooking the key aspects of Singaporean lives: Economy and Jobs (Empower), Education and Lifelong Learning (Equip), Health and Social Support (Care), Home and Living Environment (Build), Environmental and Fiscal Sustainability (Steward) and Singapore Identity (Unite).
Each pillar will be headed by 4G leaders, including Ministers Edwin Tong, Chan Chun Sing, Ong Ye Kung, and Grace Fu.
The pillar leads will engage Singaporeans to understand their concerns, listen to their feedback and explore the trade-offs involved in various policy shifts. In the process, they will review and update policies, and establish new partnerships with stakeholders to implement changes.
In his speech, DPM Wong highlighted several concerns from Singaporeans.
These include Singapore’s economy and competition from foreign workers that have caused “some anxiety”.
“Singaporeans will always be at the centre of everything we do,” assured Mr Wong.
“In this same spirit, we will ensure that public housing remains affordable, especially for the young and first timers. We will continue to uplift our vulnerable workers through schemes like Workfare and the Progressive Wage Model.
“We will further strengthen our progressive system of taxes and transfers, so that everyone contributes something, but those with more contribute more to help those with less.”
A new law will also be introduced to ensure all employers will uphold fair employment practices, shared DPM Wong. Authorities will also not hesitate to take action against any employer who discriminates on the basis of nationality – or other factors such as age, sex, disability, race and religion.
DPM Wong also emphasised that meritocracy remains the best way to organise Singapore’s society, as it encourages people to strive to make the best use of the opportunities available to them and preserves upward mobility.
But he acknowledged that meritocracy has its downsides too.
“The rich can give their children more opportunities, those who have succeeded by their merit naturally seek to pass on their advantages to their children by any means possible. So there’s a risk of privilege being entrenched across generations,” Mr Wong shared, adding on that Singapore cannot abandon meritocracy.
To combat these issues, the Forward Singapore exercise will look at improving it, and make Singapore’s meritocracy a more open and compassionate one.
Singapore will look at ensuring every Singaporean child can fulfil their potential regardless of their social background, as well as recognising and developing talents in diverse fields and giving people opportunities to advance at multiple stages of their lives.
“I hope to see a society and system that benefits many, not a few; that rewards a wide variety of talents, not a conventional or narrow few; that values and celebrates all individuals for who they are and what they can achieve; and provides all with opportunities to do better throughout their lives,” said Mr Wong.