The trust all Singaporeans have in Singapore is the most crucial and valuable resource and is something never to be taken for granted, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.
Speaking to some 200 young people at the Harmonyworks! Conference 2022 on Jul 24, he added that Singapore is a high trust society.
“There is strong trust between the government and the people but importantly, a very high level of trust between Singaporeans. You cannot say that for almost any other country in the world, so that is quite special, and that is a crucial and valuable resource which we must continue to strengthen,” he said.
But with common experiences like watching TV getting fragmented with the multitude of options, people tend to connect like-minded people on social media, reducing the diversity of interactions.
“All this means fewer opportunities for shared experiences and fewer opportunities to connect with one another. Over time, if we are not careful, we may retreat in our silos and find comfort in our own tribes and have fewer interactions with others.”
Protect common spaces
And that is why Singapore must continue to protect the common spaces in our society that everyone shares such as HDB estates, our neighbourhoods and schools and strive to maximise interactions between different groups in society.
He shared that the erosion of trust has already happened in other countries.
“Two generations ago in the US – if you asked people ‘are your neighbours trustworthy’, close to 50 per cent said yes. Now it is only 30 per cent… We want to ensure this never happens in Singapore, because if we start to lose in faith in each other, our nation collapses.” he said.
Singaporeans can do their part by speaking up against racism, strengthening social norms that bring people together and making the extra effort to interact with people from different races, he added.
Trust in the system
With a foundation of strong relationships across communities, Singapore will then be able to find ways to move forward as a society, ensuring everyone can progress and have a better life across all communities and that no one and no community is left behind.
DPM Wong said that citizens from some developed western countries are losing trust in the system after years of income stagnation and feeling that the system only benefits the rich.
Thus resulting in entrenched social and political divisions that getting agreement on simple issues becomes very difficult, if not impossible.
“The lesson for us is clear: inclusive growth is essential to keeping our society harmonious, cohesive, and strong.
Our youths are key
Singapore faces many other challenges such as the pandemic, Ukraine War and cost of living pressures but must work even harder to strengthen social compact, especially during difficult times.
“Because it is in times of difficulties and crises like this that our values and convictions as a people are crystallised,” he explained.
It is also the reason why the 4G leaders and DPM Wong are embarking on Forward Singapore, to refresh and strengthen the social compact and to ensure Singapore remains united.
“All of you, our youths, are key to the refreshing of the social compact. We want to work with you to co-create this new compact for Singapore, to shape our future, and chart our new way forward together.”
Cover photo credit: DPM Wong and One People Facebook page