Kwek Hian Chuan Henry
COS Cuts for MCCY
Tempering Emerging Social Divide
1. Singaporeans pride ourselves to live in a fair and justice meritocracy.
2. However, some believe that social divide is emerging both along race and class lines. Can the government provide an overview of the broad trends?
3. Can MCCY share what MCCY is doing to bring our people together, so as to temper the emergence of social divide?
4. Is there scope for the MCCY to strengthen our collaboration with VWOs to bring people together?
Contrary to what some may assume, inequality has reduced in Singapore, more so if Government transfers are included. In his reply to a recent Parliamentary Question, the Prime Minister shared that Singapore’s Gini coefficient has fallen over a 10-year period.
IPS studied the diversity of our social networks, and whether we were mixing with people different from ourselves. It found that people tend to have networks with people of similar school background and type of housing. This is not unexpected. We connect with people whom we went to school with, and those who move in the same social circles. Importantly, the study also found that respondents were able to name people in occupations ranging from low to medium to high status and prestige. Most Singaporeans also had friends who were of a different race or religion. Many respondents and their neighbours helped one another with house matters. Singaporeans are meeting and making friends with people from different walks of life.
Mr Alex Yam and Mr Henry Kwek highlighted the importance of social mixing as our society becomes more diverse. There will be fault lines in any society. What matters is that we don’t let that divide us, and we grow the common spaces where we encounter and connect with one another. A key finding of the IPS study was that participation in sports, arts and volunteer activities, in addition to schools and workplaces, promotes social interaction and integration across groups. These are areas where MCCY has been working hard at to nurture social cohesion.
At MCCY, we will continue to expand the common space for interactions and shared experiences across different social groups, through honest dialogues, shared spaces and inclusive programmes.
Social Cohesion Through ActiveSG
1. MCCY and SportSG have been rolling out new Academies and Clubs consistently over the past two years.
2. As such, can MCCY provide an update on their progress?
3. What can Singaporeans look forward to in the years ahead? What else is MCCY doing to get Singaporeans active?
4. Beyond keeping Singaporeans active and healthy, sports can also brings Singaporeans together.
5. Sports has the ability to turn strangers into friends. It is indeed, as SportSG describe it, the real social network.
6. I recently witness that potential when I toured Woodlands Sports Complex, where many communities were created.
7. Families would come to the complex, and participate in different sports. This not just bond residents, but also encourages the whole family to exercise.
8. To sustain such good work, it is important for MCCY to invest in community organising staff in our sports complexes, and building up networks of residents.
9. Will MCCY consider expanding this program to other Sports Complex, including Yio Chu Kang Stadium, which my residents frequent?
With the launch of ActiveSG in 2014, we saw an expansion of everyday sporting opportunities for all Singaporeans to participate and bond through sport. We now have close to 1.4 million ActiveSG members on board. Today, our ActiveSG Sports Centres, work with the Grassroots Organisations, to co-create sporting activities for the community. I am glad to hear that Mr Kwek endorses our ActiveSG programmes and I assure him that we will be enhancing the programmes at our sporting spaces.
We hope to sustain this momentum with our ActiveSG Academies and Clubs. Mr Kwek and Mr Darryl David asked about the status and future plans of the Academies and Clubs. Since 2016, we have launched 10 ActiveSG Academies and Clubs, reaching out to about 25,000 participants. Besides offering affordable and structured programmes for our children, they also bring families, neighbours, and sports enthusiasts from all backgrounds together.
ake the ActiveSG Football Academy (AFA) Dads for example. Here they are. This group of fathers, in their 30s to 50s, meets regularly while accompanying their children for classes at the ActiveSG Football Academy at Bedok. They come from different backgrounds – real estate agents, drivers, business owners, civil servants – but their love for football connected them. They formed a team of their own representing the Bedok Sports Centre, and started playing together. They are not alone. We now have six teams – Bedok, Woodlands, Clementi, Tampines, Serangoon and Jurong East. At a recent ActiveSG Football Academy end-of-season festival, besides the children, the AFA Dads had their own tournament too!
I am pleased to share that we will roll out more Academies and Clubs in sports such as Aquatics, Canoeing, Dance Fit, Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Table Tennis, Volleyball, and Youth Sports.
Another initiative, launched in 2016, is GetActive!, a nation-wide sporting event that unite Singaporeans in celebration of our nation’s birthday. For GetActive! Singapore 2018, we will expand the footprint and bring the celebrations even closer to the community. The biennial Singapore National Games will return and will incorporate the National Para Games, which will be the largest national para sport competition. We will partner the Singapore Disability Sports Council (SDSC) to introduce more para and adaptive sport events.
Connecting Our Youth to ASEAN
1. During my budget debate, I spoke about getting our Youth to Think ASEAN.
2. It is important for Singapore, especially our youth to understand, network and integrate with other ASEAN countries, given ASEAN’s rising economic force and driver of global growth.
3. It is more important than ever that our youth learn more about the region, instead of looking only to traditional markets like the West and China.
4. What are the Ministry’s plans to strengthen cultural and people-to-people ties within ASEAN during Singapore’s Chairmanship year?
5. In 2018, Singapore will be taking up ASEAN Chairmanship.
6. Does MCCY plan to use this opportunity to help integrate our youth with the ASEAN community, and get our youth to do more to Think ASEAN?
7. How can we encourage our youth to further explore the opportunities available for them in ASEAN, and expose them to the different cultures and experiences that our ASEAN neighbours have to offer?
8. I also hope for our youth also get the chance to see the economic dynamism and opportunities within ASEAN.
9. Lastly, is there more that MCCY can do to work together with MTI and MOE to shift our youth’s mindset to Think ASEAN?
Youth is another key focus for our ASEAN Chairmanship. By 2020, almost half of ASEAN’s population will be under 30 years old. This underscores the importance of empowering our youth to appreciate and realise the potential of ASEAN’s youthful demographic in driving the region’s future.
Today, MCCY, MOE and our economic agencies provide opportunities for our youth to build a greater appreciation of ASEAN. For example:
• the National Youth Council hosts bilateral youth leaders’ exchange programmes with Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia.
•MOE provides our students opportunities through exchange and immersion programmes, cultural exchanges like the annual Singapore Youth Festival and through sports like the annual ASEAN Schools Games;
• IE Singapore runs the Young Talent Programme, an initiative for youth to have international immersion experiences to better prepare them for global careers in future. The programme has supported Singaporeans to take on overseas internships and hybrid work-and-study programmes. Since last year, the programme has focused on fast-growing Asian markets, including South East Asia.
So I urge our youth to take up these opportunities in the region, as we work with MOE and economic agencies to ensure even greater access to these regional opportunities. For our chairmanship, MCCY will launch three initiatives to empower, engage and nurture the many diverse groups of youths in ASEAN.
First, we will renew the Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund. The Fund supports ground-up initiatives by ASEAN youth in areas such as leadership development, community service and entrepreneurship. Since the establishment of the Fund in 2007, we have supported many meaningful and sustainable projects, which have benefitted over 22,000 ASEAN youth.
Second, we will host an ASEAN eSports tournament this year, encompassing a regional League of Legends tournament. As a highly popular and trending activity among youth, eSports has tremendous potential, as an innovative means of engagement, to connect ASEAN youth through shared experiences of competition, sportsmanship, and fun.
Take the example of Amos Ker, a professional gamer playing Vainglory, a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). Amos has bagged numerous regional awards and even competed internationally in Hollywood. Through the various tournaments, Amos has made many friends from different countries and acquired a confidence to lead and share his experience with aspiring competitive gamers. Today, Amos is the captain of Team Impunity, a local eSports team. He is also pursuing a Diploma in Game Development, under scholarship at the Informatics Academy.
The ASEAN eSports tournament will be the first of its kind in the region. It will be part of a larger celebration of our vibrant ASEAN youth during the first weekend of August at the Singapore Sports Hub, bringing together the SHINE Festival for Youth and GetActive! Singapore. Our youth at home can look forward to a diverse array of opportunities and performances in eSports, live music, dance and sports; I encourage our youth to showcase their talents, represent Singapore on the regional stage, and build new friendships with our ASEAN neighbours.
Third, we will introduce the ASEAN Youth Fellowship programme, an annual platform for young leaders across 3P sectors in ASEAN to interact with and better understand one another, creating a closer-knit ASEAN community. These ASEAN Youth Fellows will be spending a week together in Singapore in the second half of this year, discussing key issues and opportunities in respective home countries as well as the greater ASEAN region. Youth of Singapore will also have the opportunity to interact with this next generation of leaders. Beyond our chairmanship this year, we hope to build a network of ASEAN young leaders to take the ASEAN community forward as a strong and united body.