I have been keenly watching the multitude of debates, discussions and forums on this topic. Only became aware of this "Hot Topic" during the Budget process earlier this year where it was highlighted as a priority to the future of a stronger Singapore. It's been discussed and debated and continues to be so on a weekly basis.
This is a multidimensional and complex challenge. So what does it mean in a nutshell.
"People's life changes are maximised. They have access to the services and facilities they need. The needs of specific groups such as disabled people, minority and ethnic communities, older people, children and young people and faith groups are met. People have a sense of "belonging" to the community, they interact with other in the community, are able to use community resources and are in touch with networks within the community"
The Singapore Government made this a very high priority in the Budget stretching over the next 5 to 10 years to address this problem but is it a dream or can it be reality. There are some very serious problems and the current hot topic is the 400,000 plus Singaporeans who live on an average of $1500 or below per month per family. That equates to roughly $300 per person which is one very serious issue.
The Prime Minister commented on his Face book last week that the by-election should not distract the country from focusing on national priorities and building an inclusive Singapore. You can read the article here and also an edited version of remarks made by the Deputy Prime Minister from The Straits Times in January.
This "Dream" can not be achieved merely by the Government distributing resources. The people of Singapore and I do mean "all The People" who live here has to come to the party and be part of the process if there is any chance to achieve an Inclusive Society that will be sustainable in the long term.
And this is where my own situation becomes very prevalent. I am a Expat, "Trailing Spouse" (I hate the label and what it means) and although I really like Singapore there is no sense of belonging for me personally. In fact the opposite is the reality.
Don't get me wrong. I fully understand all the "protection" laws the Government have to ensure the Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are looked after, but here is the problem. Currently about 28% of the Singapore workforce are foreigners and as I stated in my earlier posting Ageism & Good News for Foreigners this will not change until at least 2030.
In fact, there will be more foreigners, equating to about a third of the population and if they are not part of the "Inclusive Society" the dream will not be achieved. I have seen so many conflicting reports. We need, we do not need them and so on. A good example is the upcoming National Day Celebrations. As a Non Citizen or Permanent Resident I do not qualify for a ticket to attend although I really would have been proud to attend.
Other concerning trends I have noticed since arriving here last year are the increase in drug related activity and arrests, teenage prostitution as a result of materialism, foreign maids and their issues (Leave, Salaries and safety in their workplace), gambling addiction and related issues and the general low wage situation currently under discussion. There, my humble observations and I do applaud the Singapore Government on the strategic direction they have taken to achieve an Inclusive Society.
I am also very glad I am not a politician.
Here's a thought. Maybe the foreigners can also contribute towards this goal if they have a sense of belonging?