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Is it time to refresh our National Pledge?

Singapore has been in a soul-searching mood recently.

It all started when We are Majulah posted an evocative video in February questioning what it means to be Singaporean. Social media ignited with discussions about our sense of belonging to Singapore and how our values have changed through the years.

Then in an interview with local media, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu noted that more can be done to build a stronger Singaporean Identity, and observed that new fault lines have emerged, like the recent tension between conservatives and liberals.

After the heady swell of National pride precipitated by the SG50 celebrations in 2015, we’re now reminded that identity is not really something that stays constant. While we take pride in what we achieved and who we were in the past 50 years, the reality is that our identity will evolve with the times and as people change and grow.

Recited by Singaporeans loudly and proudly since 1966, no other national institution outlines our identity and aspirations as clearly as the National Pledge. The values enshrined in the past pushed us to do better, but are our perspectives and motivations still the same today?

If you were to write the Pledge today, would it differ from the current one? Tell us in the polls below.

1. Regardless of race, language or religion

The 60s was a time of polarisation in Singaporean Society. Three years of an unhappy union with Malaya had escalated tensions between the Chinese and Malays. The Maria Hertogh riots of the 50s had also created deep rifts between Christians and Muslims.

It was no wonder that S. Rajaratnam called on Singaporeans to see past these glaring divisions to build a nation together. We have enjoyed decades of racial and religious harmony since, so it certainly has worked well as a guiding principle.

However, are race, language and religion still the key areas of differences to overcome?

Today, the subject of new immigrants is a thorny issue, and many “true-blue” Singaporeans feel strongly for and against their presence here.

Several groups have also come to greater prominence in our national consciousness, from single mothers who do not receive the same benefits as their married counterparts, to elderly cardboard collectors whether they work for leisure or for a living.

While a minority in numbers, the rising profile of the LGBT community has irked religious groups, calling into question the tricky balance between secularism and respect for religious freedom.

With these arising issues in mind, do race, language and religion still warrant their mention in the Pledge? Or have other factors overtaken them in terms of relevance and urgency, as we forge ahead into SG100?

Poll: Refresh the Pledge –

Regardless of _________

(select up to three you find most relevant)

    2. Based on justice and equality

    Our pursuit of a fair and equal society has given us one of the most transparent legal systems in the world. As a society, there is a firm belief in equal opportunity and meritocracy. These basic tenets have helped us attract investment and encourage self-improvement, such that Singapore could rise to where she is today.

    While we continue to hold fast to these tenets, are there others that warrant consideration, with the idea that a Pledge should spur us to reach an even higher level?

    Given the fractious world we live in today, peace has become extra fragile and precious. Compassion may be a good extension of equality, where we not only practise equality, but also think about infusing a stronger sense of humanity and other-centredness into our core identity.

    What values do you think are important to help us become the type of society you would like to live in in 50 years’ time?

    Poll: Refresh the Pledge –

    Based on _________

    (select up to two you find most relevant)

      3. Happiness, prosperity and progress

      In 1966, Singapore was a poor third-world country, with no natural resources and a workforce lacking in both education and skills. The odds were stacked against us, and the goals of Prosperity, Progress and happiness were easy for people to rally around.

      Today, we have become a major economic hub, technologically advanced and our people enjoy a high standard of living. With one of the highest per capita GDP and education levels in the world, one would guess that Singapore has more than met its vision of prosperity and progress.

      Have we reached a stage where we may want to prioritise other goals apart from prosperity and progress? While the chase for happiness is eternal, do wealth and development still drive us, having gone through so much of it so rapidly in our recent past?

      What about inclusivity, in a society where people of varying needs and motivations co-exist? Or perhaps greater individual freedoms, a cause for which many civil activists have pushed for?

      In a country obsessed with outcomes and KPIs, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the collective goals we want to strive towards.

      Poll: Refresh the Pledge –

      So as to achieve _________

      (select up to three you find most relevant)



        This post first appeared on The Pride - Singapore Kindness Movement, please read the originial post: here

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