You may have seen these two words in the media recently: social compact.
This term is especially pronounced this year because Finance Minister Lawrence Wong introduced a slew of measures in this year’s Budget that he said will renew and strengthen the nation’s social compact.
So if you didn’t pay attention or you forgot the meaning of social compact, fret not, here’s a little help from Minister Masagos Zulkifli.
Singapore’s social compact
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development, a social compact is an implicit agreement between the Government and the people on the roles and responsibilities each plays, so that together we can shape the growth of society in both the present and the future.
So far so good?
Now, to distill it further, Minister Masagos, also the Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, said this in his speech at the International Conference on Religious Extremism:
“Since independence, our social compact is one where the Government creates the conditions for economic growth and jobs, while ensuring access to the most essential needs – education, healthcare and housing.”
“We continuously create and sustain a society of opportunities for every Singaporean – regardless of race or religion,” he emphasised.
To put it together, Singapore’s social compact is one where the Government creates the conditions for economic growth and jobs, and ensuring access to basic needs for every Singaporean, regardless of race or religion.
There you have it.
Now that we have the theoretical down pat, let’s move on to see the practical side of things, specifically how it plays out in real life.
Said Minister Masagos: “Individuals are self-reliant and supported by strong families. For those who fall upon difficult times, the Government enables them to bounce back, together with a caring community.”
Indeed, be it helping Singaporeans with the GST Voucher-U-Save rebates, CDC vouchers, Progressive Wage Credit Scheme, or SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme, the Government has upheld the promises made to the people.
To be clear, this isn’t a new thing: the PAP Government has believed in this since the inception of the Party.
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam even said in 2015 that the real Singapore story is society-wide upliftment.
“The story of Singapore’s first 50 years that is best known internationally is of economic progress leading to a remarkable rise in GDP per capita. But that is not the heart of the Singapore story. The unique Singapore story has been that of broad-based social upliftment: jobs for all, rising incomes for all, homes for all, quality schools and public healthcare for all, and neighbourhoods and parks shared by all.”
Ultimately, the deep trust between people and Government has worked.
Through a whole-of-government approach, the Government provides multiple layers of assistance with each layer supporting specific needs of people in a targeted manner. Such an approach complements individual responsibility and family support while laying the foundation for a caring community that helps needy members.
“This approach of working together has created good outcomes for our people and society. Over time, it has protected us against the erosion of social cohesion which has plagued many societies where opportunities have started to wither.”
Cover photo credit: John T on Unsplash and M3 Singapura YouTube page