All S'poreans must know they won't be left to fend for themselves in hard times: Lawrence Wong

Wong also said Singapore must continue to use our resources wisely and bear in mind the needs of tomorrow.

Zi Shan Kow | June 28, 2022, 05:51 PM

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Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong gave a speech at the launch of the "Forward Singapore" exercise during a Labour Movement Conversation, a dialogue organised by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) on Jun. 28.

Wong, who is also the Finance Minister, spoke about his vision for Singapore's future, touching on issues such as our system of social support and stewarding our resources equitably across generations.

Rethinking current social support system

Technological and economic disruptions have prompted the government to rethink if current social support systems are adequate, said Wong.

He noted that the more volatile job market will cause more Singaporeans to be displaced and find themselves in financially precarious conditions.

In this landscape, workers may turn to platform jobs, which might have insufficient safeguards for their employment, career progression or long-term needs. The aging population has also brought issues such as healthcare and retirement to the forefront.

These issues signal to Wong that the government needs to do more to provide more assurances for Singaporeans.

"Every Singaporean must know and feel that they will not be left to fend for themselves when times are hard," said Wong.

Social support systems need more resources

He added that strengthening these social support systems will require more resources.

How the funding and spending for this purpose should be done, Wong said, must be collectively determined.

Specifically, how much the government should spend, and on what issues, as well as how much more people are "prepared to pay" to fund this spending.

Beyond the role of the government, corporations, the community, and families could also consider how to complement these efforts.

"For it is only when we all chip in that we can better support one another, especially the most vulnerable among us, to weather the storms that may come our way," Wong said.

Wong recently spoke of the need to increase public spending to meet increased needs in healthcare and support for the elderly.

Taking care of future generations

In his speech, Wong also talked about how to unite Singaporeans to build a better home for future generations.

Singapore's diversity is a source of strength, said Wong.

But it is also a balance that requires constant adjustments -- expanding our common space while allowing communities as much room as possible to go about its way of life.

"We are fortunate to have inherited a well-endowed Singapore," said Wong.

It was the foresight of past generations that paved the way for Singapore to fund vital schemes that helped Singaporeans tide through the Covid-19 pandemic, he stated.

Wong said Singapore must continue to use our resources wisely and bear in mind the needs of tomorrow, to forge a fair and equitable social compact across generations.

"It is our sacred duty not to squander what we have inherited," said Wong.

"Forward Singapore" exercise

The Deputy Prime Minister ended his speech by reiterating his commitment to leading the "Forward Singapore" exercise.

The exercise is a new year-long public consultation exercise to gather public views on policies.

He encouraged Singaporeans to participate by offering ideas to ensure that the government's vision reflects their aspirations and concerns.

"You have my word that we are sincere and committed to listening to and partnering Singaporeans," said Wong.

He urged Singaporeans to offer their ideas and energies to shape the vision so it reflects their aspirations.

He acknowledged that it will not be easy, as it requires seeing things from the lens of others with different backgrounds, needs and priorities.

"I have every confidence that by engaging and partnering one another, openly and sincerely, we will be able to build a better and stronger Singapore," he said.

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Top images by Lawrence Wong/FB and Jeremy Kwok/Unsplash.