Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations
As part of an ongoing series, the Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversation (ESC) on 5 August saw 38 Singaporeans coming together to share their learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic and reflect on how we may build a stronger Singapore.
From ideas on employment and supporting jobs, moving towards a more empathetic society and how we can better help the vulnerable, most participants expressed a keen desire to turn conversation into action – whether it was strengthening our social safety nets, supporting gig workers or tackling climate change issues.
Many were heartened to see the willingness of fellow Singaporeans to step forward and do their part to help those in need.
Here’s what some of them have to say:
Russ Neu, founder of Social Collider, an aggregator of resources and a network for social enterprises, believes in taking the initiative to build a better tomorrow. He also advises youths to take action on causes that strike them the most.
Question: What would you like to say to the young people today?
“I would say be entrepreneurial, use business to solve problems and achieve financial sustainability.
But I also think that the youth today have the most resources. For us to move towards being a more caring, cohesive and resilient society, we should also support more grassroots initiatives to engage other folks.
On reflection, the crisis taught me two things. The first was that Singaporeans were united on the whole to work on moving forward, and the pledge came to mind – regardless of race, language or religion. The second was that we are only as strong as our weakest link. Covid-19 has flagged out where our weakest points were – the migrant workers and the elderly. Moving forward, we don’t need something like Covid-19 to show us. We need to pay attention to what’s around us.
I found the session energising and empowering. It was good to have like-minded people who sincerely wish to do their part for Singapore.”
For Han Phay, managing partner of a startup consultancy, tapping on diversity is our strength. In his words: “Alone we can only accomplish so much, but together, we can overcome the mightiest of storms.”
Question: How did you feel after attending the session?
“I felt inspired and humbled by the diversity of voices represented. So many fellow Singaporeans spoke passionately about their causes and advocated strongly to have their opinions considered in shaping a better future for all of us.
You can teach knowledge in schools, but you cannot teach passion. If my friends and family are keen on making a difference and playing a part in building an exciting future, I would definitely encourage them to be part of the movement.
One memorable lesson I’ve learnt through the pandemic is that we should never take things for granted. Empires can fall, riches can fade away, and unexpected disasters can disrupt the sturdiest of ships. In the midst of a crisis, we can rise up together to overcome challenges.
It’s great to see that positivity still plays an important role in society. The kindness fellow Singaporeans have shown each other has demonstrated our spirit of togetherness.”
Kenneth Loh, a warehouse assistant supervisor, roots for older, less educated workers to be given a competitive edge by helping them to upgrade their skills to stay employed during the crisis.
Question: What do you feel most passionately about during this Covid-19 period?
“I brought up my opinion about how some might still face various difficulties in securing a job, even after completing a skill-upgrading course.
At the same time, one thing I’m most encouraged by is the government’s effort in helping Singaporeans retain jobs, in spite of the pandemic and economic crisis.
To describe this session, I would say it’s somewhat useful. It will depend largely on the extent to which of the many ideas discussed are feasible enough to be implemented.
My advice to the younger generation would be to enjoy life, no matter what life throws at you.”
Social worker Benjamin Ho says that we need to accept ideas that best fit our needs and to adapt what works to our context, rather than accepting ideas wholesale – especially those that have polarised and divided major societies in the world.
Question: Were there any views in the session you found surprising/different from your own?
“The best thing for me in this session was how most participants agreed that any efforts should be more community-driven with support from the government, rather than leaving it to the government to manage. This appears to be a distinct shift, I think, from previous dialogues I’ve attended, when participants were more demanding that the government take majority of the responsibility.
Singapore must remain a good home for successive generations of Singaporeans and also for those who will come to hold Singapore as their home.
I think the opinions that differed most from mine were unsurprisingly similar to the ones I held in my youth - that the youth need to be encouraged to be more widely read and versed in sources of information than ones commonly accessed here.
For example, I think looking to foreign media sources and opinions is a great idea, but this is an area Singapore should tread with caution and start by equipping the youth to be more analytical and critical in their thinking.”
Like to join in the next conversation? Register here: https://go.gov.sg/esconversations