What does the Singapore of the future look like?

Will the Singapore of tomorrow be a utopian society where gender, race and size don’t hold any importance to progression? Where we don’t have to worry about those with privilege getting ahead? Will our children and generations ahead be able to get a house without losing an arm or a leg? 

To address the nation’s anxieties and concerns, DPM Lawrence Wong recently announced that that the 4G team will embark on an exercise to review and refresh Singapore’s social compact Speaking at an NTUC tripartite dialogue held at NTUC Centre on 28 June, he also shared that the exercise, dubbed “Forward Singapore” will chart a roadmap for the next decade and beyond.  

The exercise, called “Forward Singapore” involves six key pillars: 

  • Economy and Jobs 
  • Education and Lifelong Learning 
  • Health and Social Support
  • Home and Living Environment 
  • Environmental and Fiscal Sustainability 
  • Singapore Identity 

The exercise hopes to refresh Singapore’s social compact as we enter a new world faced with new challenges and society with fast-changing values.

What is social compact? How does this relate to workers in Singapore, and can this help to manifest a Singapore that I want to see? 

Not many people understand what social compact is (I certainly didn’t) and most might not find the whole concept/exercise of Forward Singapore sexy. If you’re a young person reading this, you might think that this exercise just contains a whole load of fluff (basically all talk no action).  

“A social compact, broadly, is a shared understanding of how all of us in society relate to one another. It’s about the respective roles and responsibilities of various groups. A social compact that is deemed fair by all segments of society strengthens social capital and fosters trust. This is what enables us to progress together as a nation.” – DPM Lawrence Wong

DPM Lawrence Wong also shared that the findings from the Forward Singapore exercise will be used for the Government to tweak policies to better cater to the needs and aspirations of Singaporeans, in particular the youths. So… will this help to create a Singapore that we want to see in the new world? I have faith that it can – because our DPM shared that he too, wants to build a Singapore that our young can inherit for generations to come.

As a young PME, I was keen to understand how this would affect my livelihood. NTUC’s President Mary Liew and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng were also present at the fireside chat that took place after DPM Wong’s speech. 

At the heart of it, NTUC will be playing a huge role in this exercise – I mean, they represent over 1 million workers in Singapore across all walks of life (freelancers, youths, rank and file workers, mature workers, you name it, they have it) after all. 

NTUC will play the role of diving deeper into the needs of working people during this exercise across different industries and jobs. Just recently, NTUC Labour Chief Ng Chee Meng shared a teaser on how the Labour Movement will be here to listen to workers’ needs and represent them on platforms that matter. 

What’s new about this exercise? We’ve done many such engagements in the past. Will anything change? 

What’s different about this one is that – this exercise aims at not just encouraging participation and a call to action, but much more.

According to National University of Singapore sociologist Eugent Tan Ern Ser, he said that, 

“What I’m expecting is that it will be more than just about encouraging participation and action, but also to achieve a broad consensus on difficult issues – both economic and cultural – and arriving at optimal solutions in the face of tradeoffs.” 

Prof Eugene Tan said nothing is off the table where Singaporeans are concerned. 

“The question is whether the engagement process will fob off the inconvenient questions and hard issues.”

So… what will the Singapore of tomorrow look like? I’d look to our leader in the making in times like this: 

Awwww. Faith in humanity restored. These are his hopes for the future, but he cannot make this a reality alone. He urged everyone — unionists, business leaders, and fellow Singaporeans alike — to offer their ideas and energies, help shape the vision, and work hand-in-hand with the government to turn the common vision into reality.

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