Community must step up as equal partner

Community must step up as equal partner
Ms Emily Teng’s (in black) non-profit organisation, World Change Agents, helps introverted youths gain the skills and confidence to create their own social initiatives and become community leaders.
Published: 4:02 AM, August 22, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, August 23, 2013
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I think the Prime Minister gave his most significant policy speech ever at the National Day Rally. It was also one of his most empathetic, showing a clear understanding of the issues that Singaporeans had raised through Our Singapore Conversation.

Most strikingly, I see a real, permanent strategic shift in making Singapore a more just and equal society. Our Singapore Pledge declares that we are “to build a democratic society based on justice and equality”. The People’s Action Party’s own mission is to “build a fair and just society”.

These words resonate deeply with me and with my colleagues at the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), as we have dedicated our professional lives to building a giving nation, one in which people are driven by altruism and compassion; a Singapore in which selfless giving is a natural and expected trait; a country of engaged citizens willing to take on the responsibility of addressing and solving issues facing their communities.

One idea I agree with, in particular, is that in order to make real progress on social issues, the community must take responsibility and act to address social issues it identifies as most pressing.

I wish this theme had been developed further — for while the Prime Minister had said the community must do more, this was largely in the context of sharing the State’s load in protecting the individual, especially the disadvantaged.

I would like to see the community being equal partners in much of the upcoming work — not just to alleviate the fiscal burden, but also to contribute to the problem-solving process.


I believe in the power of the community and in the power of the individual. One of my favourite quotations is by anthropologist Margaret Mead, who said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”

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