betty July 6, 2022

SINGAPORE – The public service should engage Singaporeans in good faith during the upcoming Forward Singapore engagement exercise, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

Public officers will have a central role to play in the exercise, he said, calling on them to work together with Singaporeans to come up with innovative and effective responses to the challenges ahead, as well as strengthen the social compact.

Singapore is facing challenges both externally as well as domestically, he noted in a speech on Wednesday (July 6) at the Covid Public Sector Transformation Awards ceremony at the ITE College Central.

He underscored how the country will have to prepare for a more dangerous and troubled world ahead, with growing geo-political contestation among the major powers,

Domestically, it will also have to do more to sustain social mobility and care for its growing number of seniors, said Mr Wong, who is also Finance Minister.

Census 2020 showed that residents aged 65 years and above formed 15.2 per cent of the resident population last year, up from 9 per cent in 2010.

“In the face of these challenges, now more than ever, we must hold together and stay united as a nation. And that is why I recently launched the Forward Singapore exercise – to refresh and strengthen our social compact for our next bound of development,” he said.

Mr Wong launched the year-long exercise on June 28. Led by the Deputy PM and his team of fourth-generation leaders, it provides a platform for Singaporeans to offer ideas to shape a more compassionate and equitable Singapore.

A report will be released in the middle of next year.

Turning to the local Covid-19 situation, Mr Wong said Singapore is not out of the woods yet, as it is in the midst of a new wave caused by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants. These variants, first detected here in May, are more transmissible and effective at evading the immune system.

For now, most cases are not so severe and the local hospital situation is still holding up, he said, but cautioned that there will be new mutations that may be more aggressive and dangerous than Omicron.

“We cannot let our guard down,” he said.

Mr Wong lauded the public service, saying it has done exemplary work in Singapore’s fight against the coronavirus.

“In our darkest hours, I have always been able to draw strength from all of our public service officers,” he said.

“I have met many of you over the last two years, especially those who have been working on the front lines of Covid-19. I have seen many fatigued and tired officers, but you never gave up, and you kept on fighting.”