Tuesday, 29 December 2015

SG50 has stirred new Singapore spirit: Heng Swee Keat

Strengthening the sense of 'one people' and keeping economy vibrant are key for next lap
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 28 Dec 2015

As Singapore's Jubilee year draws to a close, the man who helmed the national celebration believes it has sparked a new Singapore spirit and given people a greater sense of home.

"That to me is the biggest achievement of SG50," said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who headed the SG50 Steering Committee.

The celebration also brought to the fore six highly desirable values, he added. They are: empathy, integrity, harmony, resourcefulness, resilience and responsibility.

These strengths are important for reinforcing the Singapore spirit to lift the country to the next level, he said as he took stock of SG50 in an interview with the media earlier this month.The experience has already given him ideas for the next lap, part of which he leads as chairman of the Committee on the Future Economy.

The other part is the SGfuture dialogue series, led by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing.

Mr Heng identified two key focus areas for the new journey: strengthening the sense of "one people", and keeping the economy vibrant.

To build on the SG50 momentum, the Government did not wait.

The SGfuture dialogue series took off this month and will run until the middle of next year, during which Singaporeans will discuss issues such as building a sustainable home and fostering a caring community, among others. The dialogues will draw inspiration from the ongoing Future Of Us exhibition, which presents possible scenarios of life in Singapore years from now. They will be organised by non-profit organisations and government agencies.

By the year end, organisers would have held 16 sessions with more than 800 participants, said the SGfuture secretariat.

But beyond the series of dialogues, Mr Heng wants to encourage people to get their ideas off the ground and transform them into reality by, for instance, starting projects of their own or volunteering with non-profit organisations.

To bolster their efforts, he said the Government will look at ways to back SGfuture projects, like facilitating tie-ups or pointing groups to funds they can apply for. Further announcements on this could be made during next year's Budget announcement in March.

The Committee on the Future Economy is gearing up for take-off next year and there are plans to get ordinary Singaporeans involved in discussions, Mr Heng said.

"We need to continue to keep the economy vibrant in order to generate resources for us, and opportunities for our people to realise their aspirations," he added. While the Government plays an important role in getting economic policies right, he said, the energy to do better at work and the creativity to start new businesses must come from the people.

Calling on Singaporeans to take part in shaping the country's future, he said: "Let us take it beyond the Our Singapore Conversation, and beyond the SG50 celebration.

"Let us start another new phase of our nation-building, which is to mobilise all our fellow Singaporeans... to give ideas and to act on those ideas."


The passing of Mr Lee was a low point of the celebration. I had briefed him more than once on what we were doing, and he was looking forward to it. But it also turned out to be the most reflective part of our SG50 events.

(His) passing deepened our appreciation for what he and the pioneer leaders, as well as our pioneer generation, had done. It certainly deepened the sense of unity and brought out the Singapore spirit.

MR HENG SWEE KEAT, on the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and its impact on SG50


SG50 is not a partisan event. It is really about deep reflections: what have we learnt in 50 years, what are the lessons that will remain relevant for the future. We must not confuse this nation-building with being partisan. Of course, the People's Action Party was in power during all these 50 years. But what we built is really together with the people.

MR HENG, on comments in some quarters that SG50 was a year-long election campaign for the PAP

Singaporeans felt SG50 brought nation together: Poll
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 28 Dec 2015

More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans polled in a survey said they felt that the celebration of Singapore's 50th year of independence had brought people closer, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at an interview earlier this month, he said the SG50 Programme Office had been doing monthly surveys since November last year to gauge people's feelings towards SG50.

People were asked if they knew about SG50 and whether they were excited about it, among other things. The polls showed growing interest and participation in the activities organised for the occasion.

"I'm very happy to say that, quarter after quarter, the numbers kept going up. So by now, everybody knows about SG50. They were excited about the events and they felt that the SG50 celebration brought us closer together as one people," said Mr Heng.

More than 500 initiatives were organised to celebrate Singapore's 50th year of independence, including the biggest National Day Parade and the Future Of Us exhibition.

About 400 of the initiatives were started by ordinary Singaporeans. A celebration fund disbursed about $10 million to organisers of these ground-up projects.

"When we started (the fund), we weren't sure whether there would be many Singaporeans coming up with ideas. (In the end) we had an overwhelming response," said Mr Heng.

The celebration, he added, also led Singaporeans to appreciate the pioneer generation and the country's past, and to reflect on how Singapore overcame the odds.

Singaporeans were also inspired to take the country forward, he said as he wished for the energy to last.

"I hope that we will build on the Singapore spirit, stay united and... build an even more endearing home for every Singaporean."

We've curated the project ideas generated at the various SGfuture Engagement Sessions. Read on to find out what they are and join like-minded people to make them a reality!
Posted by National Youth Council, Singapore on Sunday, December 27, 2015

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