Yes, S.I.R in a Pandemic

Jun 28, 2021   |   Alycia Lee

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On 29 May, over 250 youths and educators attended a Zoom webinar organised by the Singapore Our Home SG75 Committee, in partnership with People’s Association (PA) and Heartware Network.

Our Home SG75 is an annual competition hosted by the SG75 Working Committee, which invites creative and thoughtful multi-media submissions based on its overarching theme: Singapore Our Home in SG75 (2040).

In conjunction with the commencement of the competition, students and members of the public were invited to the ‘Yes S.I.R in a Pandemic’ web event, where they were given the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with invited speakers, among whom included Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development Ms Indranee Rajah.  

Ms Indranee, who was also the Guest-of-Honour, kickstarted the event with an opening address where she introduced attendees to the SG75 competition, which inaugurated in 2017.

The theme of this year’s competition–Sustainability: Building Resilience and Inclusiveness in Fighting COVID-19–is a clear nod to Singapore’s approach in combating the coronavirus. With both a primary and open category, all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents are invited to submit essays, pictures and motion media that express the strength of our community, emphasising the collective fight involving every walk of society.

The importance of sustainability, inclusiveness and resilience in combating the Covid-19 situation was also reiterated by Ms Indranee.  

She said: “The future belongs to you, and we want you to bring in your thoughts and ideas, to think about what the future will be like. As Singaporeans, all of us, regardless of age, are on a journey to build our nation, to make sure that we have a country where we can… grow and flourish, to fulfil our greatest potential and be all that we can be.”

Ms Nichol Ng, co-founder of The Food Bank Singapore, then addressed issues of sustainability and food security in Singapore.

Since 2012, The Food Bank has been distributing wasted food to people in need, and has partnered with over 370 charity organisations to serve their beneficiaries.

Touching on the role of technology in ensuring sustainability, Ms Ng said that it was crucial for The Food Bank to utilise technology effectively in order to achieve its mission of ending food insecurity in all forms in Singapore by 2025.

“Because of the way we digitised our team, we were able to distribute close to 1,000,000 meals [(during the Circuit Breaker and Phase 2 period last year)] even though we only had six full-time staff and a very minimal number of volunteers back then,” she explained.

Before concluding her presentation, Ms Ng encouraged the audience to join the SG75 competition and take bold steps to resolve community issues, not unlike her and her team when they started The Food Bank.

“Now, more than ever, your ideas need to be heard… so please ideate away, because no idea is too crazy to put Singapore on the map of the world.”

Minister of State Ms Sun Xue Ling also raised the issue of family violence and the psychological stress that may have come about as a result of the pandemic. 

She said that the number of enquiries at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) has increased by 44% from 2019 to 2020, but also emphasised it was good that more people were speaking up about domestic violence.

Ms Sun also encouraged the audience to be active community responders as well, to check on their neighbours and react to distress signals, saying: “We must remember that a simple knock on the door can sometimes snap them out of it, and it can be an important act of intervention to prevent family unhappiness.”

The speakers then engaged in a question-and-answer session with students, many of whom had already been using the Zoom live chat to discuss amongst themselves various solutions to resolve community issues.

Questions directed towards Ms Ng included queries on potential collaborations between The Food Bank and schools, while Ms Sun and Ms Rajah fielded questions relating to macro concepts such as Singapore’s environmental policies, as well as issues that hit closer to home for many students, such as youth mental health.

Professor Ho Yew Kee, the Chairman of the SG75 Working Committee, concluded the webinar with a closing address of his own, urging the youths present to participate in the competition.

“I would like to invite all of you to come join us on this journey. We’re building momentum, and we’re in it for the long haul… Together, we can move the stones, brick by brick.”