Channel NewsAsia

Government to increase investments on youth spaces like *SCAPE

Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Lawrence Wong says his ministry will redouble efforts and investment in young people, to get them involved in building Singapore into a "democracy of deeds".

SINGAPORE: There could be changes to the youth hangout *SCAPE on Orchard Road and new spaces for the young in different parts of Singapore in the near future, revealed Minister for Community, Culture and Youth Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Friday (May 30).

The tenant mix and use of space at *SCAPE will be reviewed to add more relevant and appealing programmes like music and media to the area. These changes are part of plans to redouble the Ministry's efforts and investment in young people.

"We must encourage our youths to get involved in causes and projects that help build a better society," he said. "We must aspire for Singapore to be a problem-solving democracy, a democracy of deeds."

Also in the works are new youth spaces in other parts of Singapore, to be run in partnership with schools and charities. Programmes at Outward Bound Singapore will be scaled up, so more young people can take part.

To do all this, Mr Wong said the National Youth Council will need to be re-structured and strengthened. "It must champion youth engagement and coordinate youth programmes nation-wide with stakeholders. It must gather feedback from the ground, and undertake research to better understand the needs of our youths. It must provide a voice for youths to influence and shape national policies."

Separately, Mr Wong responded to opposition leader Low Thia Khiang's call on Monday (May 26) for political education in Singapore schools, saying the focus remains with character development.

"It is important to be informed about the political system and the principles of governance in Singapore. But our priority in education must be on character development. Good character means honesty and integrity in our words and actions. Good character means that while we may disagree on certain issues, we can still come together and hash things out."

Giving an update of preparations for SG50, Singapore's celebrations for its 50th year of independence next year, Mr Wong said many Singaporeans have come forward with ideas ranging from performances to charity projects. Organisers have received more than 100 proposals from the public so far.

 "We live in a time where politics in many countries has become increasingly acrimonious and divisive; where negative and inflammatory soundbites are being amplified louder and faster than before. And in such an environment, it's easy to tune out, to become cynical, to focus only on the bad and dismiss all the good that is happening around us. But the active participation of the many Singaporeans including young Singaporeans in the Singapore conversation and now the SG50 celebration, gives me hope."

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia