Forward Singapore is well underway.
Since Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced the exercise in May this year, he has been involved in multiple conversations with Singaporeans on a multitude of topics — ranging from uplifting lower-wage workers to fostering a stronger sense of unity.
And on Monday (Oct 11), in a dialogue with social service practitioners, he touched on providing better support for Singaporeans to start families.
Having a roof over the head is key to starting families.
Fully cognisant of the key concerns for many young Singaporeans, namely long wait time times for new HDB flats and rising resale home prices, DPM Wong said the Government will review the housing policies to help first-time buyers and explained the reason of the recent rising prices.
“This is partly due to the disruptions in the building programme brought about by Covid-19 and the pandemic in the two-and-a-half years. But HDB has been ramping up the supply of new flats and will be able to launch more flats to meet the demand soon,” said DPM Wong.
“In addition, we will also review our housing policies to see how we can help first-time home buyers secure a flat quickly and affordably.”
Raising children is no longer exclusive to women, men are also increasingly part of the equation. And usually, with both parents working full-time more help is needed to help them balance work and family commitments.
To this end, the Government will also encourage flexible work arrangements and will review paid leave measures, he added, in addition to the review of various financial support schemes and parenthood measures.
“We must make Singapore the best place for families – a society where young couples feel well-supported to start and raise a family, and can give their children the best possible start in life.”
Indeed, supporting the next generation is high in the Party’s list of priorities.
While the Government aims to introduce better support, DPM Wong urged fathers to be more involved in parenting.
“This is not something that we can change through policies alone. Ultimately, it’s about how we can engender a broader mindset shift in individual attitudes as well as societal norms,” he added.
Reducing inequality, sustaining social mobility, supporting seniors
Other than supporting young families, DPM Wong also highlighted the three key priorities for the 4G team, namely reducing inequality, sustaining social mobility and supporting seniors.
On reducing inequality, there are a host of measures such as Comlink and the KidSTART programme, both of which are being enhanced, as announced in this year’s Budget.
But more can be done, noted DPM Wong.
In terms of sustaining social mobility, he said that societies which have been stable for a long time tend to become less socially mobile.
And thus Singapore has to refresh and update its approach to providing social support.
He also made the point that the most important and hardest gap to narrow is not income or wealth but respect and status.
“How do we shift attitudes and mindsets, so that the contributions of every individual and every worker across all professions are valued and appreciated,” he said.
On supporting seniors, DPM Wong said that even with an improved healthcare and eldercare system in Singapore, there’s an urgent need to transform care and living options for seniors — given that Singapore is rapidly ageing, one in four Singaporeans will be 65 and older by 2030.
“We must take better care of our seniors – to help them live independently for as long as possible and to live active and meaningful lives, contributing to society – at work, or in the community,” he said.
Better senior living options in housing estates are in development and the plan is to scale them nationwide so as to make community and eldercare services within easy reach in all neighbourhoods.
Cover photo credit: CNA Youtube and Jiachen Lin on Unsplash