Singapore Together Emerging Stronger Conversations
On 12 August, 43 Singaporeans came together to give their reflections on the Covid-19 pandemic and the future Singapore they wish to help build – as part of the ongoing Emerging Stronger Conversations (ESCs).
The conversation surfaced views on how we may foster a culture that embraces differing viewpoints, raise a more socially conscious generation, and be able to discuss trade-offs when policy decisions are made.
Most evident was the optimism among participants on our collective ability to shape a better tomorrow – mirrored in the views of the participants below.
On playing our part for the Singapore of tomorrow, leadership coach Anna Leong has this to say: “Life is an adventure. Stay curious and be compassionate. Be aware of your impact as you are important.”
Question: What are some issues you feel passionate about during this Covid-19 period?
“During the session, I discussed how Covid-19 has allowed the whole world to pause, which showed the good side, the humane part of Singaporeans. The crisis underscored the need for each and every one of us to play our part in society. At the same time, I believe it’s important we provide a safe environment for people to air and share their views. The challenges we have are complex as we mature. Singaporeans are varied and diverse, and all views need to be heard.
Being the only one from the Merdeka generation in my group, I was encouraged to see that the millennials care too. I feel that there should be more opportunities for intergenerational dialogue, so that there will be better understanding and each generation can understand each other’s perspectives.
To me, the pandemic revealed that we have lots of resources available and a huge network of relationships. There are all kinds of people in the world and we have the choice to be with who we want to be.
Amidst today’s crisis, what never fails to encourage me is Singapore’s resilience to pull through together and come out stronger than before.”
Consultant Able Cheong looks towards the future with hope. “In trying times, we must always remember that the future is bright – one we can shape and must play a part in,” he says.
Question: How was the session for you?
“I found the session very well-facilitated. The small group led by Surin allowed time and space for everyone to share their thoughts and views. Words to describe it – safe environment, meaningful focus, well-paced.
I’m glad to have participated. I felt heard and understood. It makes me feel like I want to engage more, participate more and contribute more.
To foster a more caring society, I think it comes to down to taking action. We should not be limited by our current belief systems, such as “my contribution may not make much of a difference”, which points to some form of fear or apathy, which then hinders us to act – even though we know it’s the right thing to do.
One thing I am most heartened to see in this time is that more people are articulating how we can make things better, and how we should come together more. We definitely can do more, say more and share more instances where the good and extraordinary have come out from difficult and adverse circumstances.”
‘Doing what we can for the greater good’ is what Druga Rajendran, management consultant, believes in. “If each of us do what we can, with what we have, from where we are, we can build a better tomorrow,” she shares.
Question: How did you feel after attending the session?
“I appreciated the opportunity to be able to share my perspectives in a safe space free of judgement. The facilitator was very encouraging. It was also a joy to be able to connect with fellow Singaporeans both young and old, and hear their stories of dreams and hopes. It was energising for me.
As a youth volunteer I spend a lot of time talking to youths; listening to their concerns, needs, fears and hopes. I registered for the ESC so that I can communicate these fears, needs and aspirations to decision makers. I also wanted to be able to hear others’ opinions, thoughts and ideas. As a community builder it is important that we understand the pain points and hopes of our people so that we can help design and execute initiatives in our three feet of influence to build a more caring, inclusive and resilient Singapore.
Honestly the pandemic challenged me in so many ways; as an individual, as a family member, as an employee and as a volunteer in the community. One memorable lesson I have learnt is that as individuals we have the power to make small changes around us. No good deed is ever too small. My friends and I felt that we should do something for our migrant brothers during the fasting month. We got together, raised money amongst family and friends and arranged for care packs to be delivered to the dorms with the support of several individuals and ground-up movements involved in the migrant worker cause.
I must add the pandemic also offered me time to rest and spend time with my family members. It certainly helped to strengthen our relationship and reminded me of the importance of family.”
When reflecting on the greater meaning of kindness, Muhd Haziqnuddin, documentation officer, says: “Simple acts of kindness can go a very long way, especially acts of kindness that you do for yourself.”
Question: What’s one memorable lesson you’ve learned from the pandemic?
“For me, the recent crisis highlighted the importance of introspection. Life within the pandemic forcefully shed light on areas of my life which I had previously been ‘pushing under the rug’ – made easier by the fast pace of life in Singapore. Living with unaddressed childhood trauma in a household where that trauma originated, especially during the Circuit Breaker, was overwhelming at times. Thankfully, I was able to mitigate much of my overwhelming emotions with the help of my school counsellor, life coach and support system.
During the session, there was a lady who shared about the crucial need to mitigate the emotional and psychological impacts of this pandemic on children, of which I wholeheartedly agree. Although the elderly are more susceptible to health complications due to Covid-19, it is the young, of primary to secondary school age, who will be living with the long-term psychological impacts of social distancing, increased exposure to abuse within the household due to the Circuit Breaker and other conveniences that were easily accessible pre-Covid.
In today’s crisis, what I’m most encouraged by is our people’s compassion for one another. I witnessed and experienced this first-hand in 2015, while I was queuing for seven hours to pay my respects to our late founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Five years later, I witnessed that same compassion and kindness.”
In adapting to the new normal, Ko Yang who is a volunteer, shares his view: “Be daring to try and learn new skills and knowledge; advocate for causes that you believe in.”
Question: Why did you register for the ESC?
“I joined the session as I strongly felt that we need to constantly share our thoughts, to help shape the future of our society. I have been involved in volunteer work for about 16 years and felt I could share some of my thoughts on helping under-resourced families.
I belong to a generation that has not really faced a crisis before. I think we might not be totally prepared for such a situation as we have to suddenly adapt to the new normal. We have taken too many things for granted, from simple things such as eating at a hawker centre or the freedom to travel.
When the pandemic struck, part of my volunteer work revolved around helping children from under-resourced families. My focus was, and currently still is, to work with community partners and volunteers to offer the children digital support, especially when schools shifted towards home-based learning. We also took some efforts in shifting almost all our programmes to virtual sessions so that the children can continue to participate in them.
My advice to the younger generation today would be to treasure what we currently have in Singapore and make the most of our blessings.”
Join our next ESC to share your hopes and dreams for Singapore’s future. You can sign up for the ESC at https://go.gov.sg/ESConversations