SINGAPORE: The Forward Singapore Festival was launched on Friday (Oct 27), after an exercise that began in June engaged over 200,000 Singaporeans in discussions about the country’s forward momentum at a time when Singapore is at a “critical inflection point,” as DPM Lawrence Wong, who chairs the Forward SG Workgroup, characterized it, facing considerable global and domestic challenges.

The Singaporeans who participated in the exercise said that they want a country that is “Vibrant and Inclusive,” “Fair and Thriving,” and “Resilient and United.” The Forward SG report shows the steps that will be taken in the pursuit of this goal.

DPM Wong assured everyone, however, that Forward SG “is not a top-down government agenda” but a “very much a shared consensus among Singaporeans across different walks of life.” He added that the policy moves will take Singapore closer to the shared goals of its people, underlining the importance of continuing to grow the economy. “Growth is not a cure-all; but the lack of growth will be a kill-all. We have to keep our economy open, and work doubly hard to raise productivity and push the frontiers of innovation,” he said.

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Mr Wong added that the definition of the Singapore Dream has been rethought by many in the course of the Forward SG exercise. While once this was defined as material or personal success, now “it is also about a sense of fulfilment and meaning, and about contributing to a larger purpose and the common good. In other words, we truly succeed only when we succeed together.”

He added “We have now a roadmap to build our shared future together. We have to translate this into concrete actions, policies and results. We have a full agenda ahead of us, and we look forward to working with all Singaporeans to write our next chapter of the Singapore Story.”

Some of the moves concern education, including abolishing the streaming scheme and moving to Full Subject-Based Banding, greater support for special-needs students, expanding the definition of merit, and providing more training for mature mid-career Singaporeans.

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On the job and career front, workers will be given access to better data and information about jobs, skills, to understand the type of development and job transformation happening around the world and how therefore. The government will also provide support to Singaporeans who wish to go overseas for their career development, as well as reduce wage gaps among different types of workers.

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As for families, SG Forward reiterated the government’s commitment to provide affordable public housing as well as support for families by way of more flexible work arrangements and better assistance for caregivers. With regards to health, the exercise recognizes that Singapore is an ageing society, and programmes are made and tailor-fit with this in mind.

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