SINGAPORE — The “Singapore Dream” is no longer solely about material success — it now encompasses fulfilment, meaning and purpose in people’s lives, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Friday (Oct 27).
Speaking at the launch of the Forward Singapore Festival at Gardens by the Bay, Mr Wong said that Singaporeans today “no longer talk so much about the five Cs”.
He was referring to the material possessions Singaporeans typically aspire to own, namely a condominium, car, cash, credit card and country club membership.
“To be clear, we still want a good life,” added Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister.
“There are genuine concerns about issues like housing and the cost of living, which the Government is focusing on and we are addressing them.
“But from our engagements, it is also clear the Singapore Dream is more than just material success. It is also about fulfilment, meaning and purpose in what we do.”
Earlier on Friday morning, Mr Wong and other members of Singapore’s fourth-generation leadership team held a press conference to unveil the Forward Singapore report.
The 180-page report is the culmination of a 16-month long feedback exercise that canvassed the views of over 200,000 Singaporeans and stakeholders with the aim of refreshing the nation’s social compact.
Mr Wong also kicked off the Forward Singapore Festival, which runs this weekend at Gardens by the Bay, where the public can learn more about the Forward SG initiatives outlined in the report and contribute their own ideas for the nation’s development.
‘WE, US AND OURS’
Mr Wong, who is expected to succeed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the coming years, said that the new Singapore Dream comprises three main elements.
“First… We believe it will be vibrant and inclusive. Vibrant, because we want to ensure that there are continued opportunities for all Singaporeans to get good jobs to enjoy better living standards over time.
“Inclusive; because the opportunities should not just be for a few. They are certainly not limited to those with university degrees, or those who fit into a certain conventional mould,” he said, adding that the aim is for there to be equal opportunities for all Singaporeans regardless of their background, educational pathways and career choices.
“In other words, we must truly embrace learning beyond grades… We must value every worker for who they are and what they do, especially those who do the essential work that we all rely on.”
Mr Wong had previously spoken about the growing divergence between the starting salaries of graduates from the Institute of Technical Education and those from polytechnics and universities, as well as the need to professionalise skilled trades.
“Second, it will be fair and thriving, because we recognise the stresses and strains that Singaporeans face on a day-to-day basis. We want to be a society where Singaporeans can be better assured of their basic needs through every life stage,” he said.
In order to achieve this, Mr Wong said that Singapore needs to have an environment that is conducive for all segments of society, including children, seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers.
Enabling workers who face setbacks to “bounce back stronger” is also a key focus, he said.
The Forward SG report indicated that a new support scheme would be implemented to help involuntarily unemployed workers in the lower- and middle-income groups “get back on their feet”.
Last, Mr Wong said that the Singapore Dream is also about resilience and unitedness.
“It will not be possible for the Government alone to do everything through policy changes, nor is it possible for any individual to succeed on his or her own efforts alone,” he said.
Mr Wong then called on those who have “done well” to consider making financial donations or volunteering their time and expertise to mentor and support those in need.
“This is not a top down government agenda. This is very much a shared consensus, a co-created road map for our next round of nation building,” he said.
“That’s why I firmly believe the refreshed Singapore Dream is less about I, me and mine; it’s more about we, us and ours.”
Speaking to the media on Friday, Mr Wong stressed that the Government will continue to engage Singaporeans widely even after the Forward SG exercise has ended and create more avenues for civic participation.
He added that while the country now has a “road map to build our shared future together”, the Government still has to translate that into “concrete actions, policies and results”.
The Forward Singapore Festival will be held at Gardens by the Bay from Oct 27 to 29, before making its way to various locations till Jan 28 next year.