SINGAPORE — A trip to the museum or theatre will soon be a new “shared experience” for each cohort of young Singaporeans, on top of attending the National Day Parade rehearsal and, more recently announced, a five-day Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) expedition camp.
In an interview with local media last week, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said such plans for “one more point that defines us” as Singaporeans are in the offing.
“It’s beyond the food that we love, beyond the hawker centres that we go to, beyond the National Day Parade that we’ve attended (in Primary 5). It’s a visit to the museum, it’s a concert that we’ll all go through, it’s an OBS they will all have gone through in Secondary 3. So we are building a richer identity as Singaporeans,” she said.
More details will be shared next month, said Ms Fu, when the Committee of Supply debate for her ministry will also happen. The Budget statement for this year will be announced on Monday (Feb 20).
Giving Singaporeans an added shared experience falls under three objectives her ministry will focus on in what Ms Fu expects to be a challenging year, citing the widening rifts that many developed and established societies are seeing among ethnic groups, locals and immigrants, as well as economic classes.
At the same time, terrorist activity is increasing, and Singapore is not spared such threats, she added.
Noting that Singapore has been described as a “small sampan sailing in a big ocean”, Ms Fu said her ministry aims to be the “social glue” for a more cohesive society, and to give Singaporeans reasons to be confident and optimistic about the future.
Amid what she described as “very turbulent” times, Ms Fu said the MCCY will be reaching out to more religious organisations to enhance community resilience as not all these groups are represented currently.
A comprehensive plan to document Singapore’s heritage assets is also on the cards, she added, with the first step to consider which genre and category of assets to start the process with.
What is confirmed is that Singaporeans will be part of this documentation process, said Ms Fu.
Ways to encourage more Singaporeans to step forward to help create a more caring, compassionate and inclusive society will also be something she will talk about during the Budget debate.
One avenue is SGCares, the national movement to get Singaporeans to help the less fortunate, she said.
In the sporting arena, Ms Fu said her ministry is also looking at how to boost the system, inspired by the recent success of the Republic’s athletes such as Joseph Schooling’s Olympic gold, and Yip Pin Xiu and Theresa Goh’s trio of Paralympic medals.
This includes finding ways to support the National Sports Associations in the development of new athletes and reviewing the High Performance Sports System.
Within the arts sector, her ministry will continue to support traditional arts groups who are trying to adapt and stay relevant, said Ms Fu.
While Ms Fu disagreed that the relationship between artistes and the state can be described at times as “troubled”, she said she has taken it in her stride that there will be people who would be unhappy about certain things when it comes down to how they are being funded.
Efforts to engage them will continue, she added.
Asked how she would get Singaporean talents pursuing their overseas opportunities to return, Ms Fu said she hopes they will continue to engage with the community, facilitated by her ministry, when they return. This includes having athletes return to schools to give talks, for instance.
“This is where we start off by saying, do we have a heart for the people around you.
“And if we start that thought, that process of imbuing that kind of caring mentality among Singaporeans ... it (becomes) part of their psyche, their identity as Singaporean, I think then there’s always a string back to Singapore,” she added.