“My hope is for Singapore to emerge as a fairer, greener, and more equal country, with a much stronger spirit of solidarity and shared purpose.”
This summarised Minister for Education Mr Lawrence Wong’s ambitions for the country, as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Wong, also the co-chair of the Multi-ministry Taskforce on COVID-19, noted that Singaporeans face an “acutely changed world” in the wake of the pandemic. Stressing that we have the ability to shape the country’s future, he used the analogy of a software update to highlight three “resets” that must be made in terms of thinking, lifestyle and mindset, in order to “reboot” the damage inflicted by COVID-19.
- Reset 1: Strengthen the social compact for a fairer and more equal society
- Reset 2: Build a greener, environmentally sustainable economy and society which will benefit our children and future generations
- Reset 3: Forge a stronger spirit of solidarity and social cohesion
Mr Wong was speaking on 25 Jan at the closing session of the annual Singapore Perspectives conference organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), a research centre of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS.
Confident that the country will overcome its problems with nimbleness, ingenuity and gumption, and emerge stronger from the pandemic, he rallied the audience. “Most of all, we have seen that as “one united people”, we can achieve exceptional things together. So that’s how, as one united people, we can realise our aspirations and ideals, and build a better Singapore together.”
Mr Wong also engaged the audience in a dialogue session which was chaired by Mr Warren Fernandez, Editor-in-Chief of The Straits Times. The final conference day also saw panel discussions with business leaders and representatives from the People’s Action Party, Workers’ Party and Progress Singapore Party.
Themed “Reset”, the Singapore Perspectives conference was held over four days, featuring nine online interactive forums on 12, 14 and 19 Jan and culminating in a final hybrid conference day on 25 Jan where in-person plenary sessions were also broadcasted online.
Framed around the key values of the Singapore Pledge – progress and prosperity, happiness, justice and equality, and a democratic society – the conference engaged international thought leaders, academics, activists and community leaders in exploring possible pathways for Singapore in a post-COVID world.
In wide-ranging forum discussions touching on jobs and skills; the environment and sustainability; identities and cohesion; and technology and liveability, panellists discussed pre-existing trends and issues, as well as current challenges caused by the pandemic. These featured prominent speakers, intellectuals and civic leaders such as Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam; Ambassador Chan Heng Chee; Professor Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University; Professor Jared Diamond from the University of California at Los Angeles; and Ms Janice Koh, actor and former Nominated Member of Parliament.
The conference is part of IPS’ first phase of Reimagining Singapore 2030, a year-long scenario-planning exercise to gather views from global thinkers and Singaporeans on topics such as “living and making a living in 2030”.