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New youth panels to develop policy recommendations with the government to be launched this year

Authorities hope to engage youths in “meaningful and constructive discourse” through the youth panels, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong.

New youth panels to develop policy recommendations with the government to be launched this year

A view of the skyline in Singapore on Jan 27, 2023. (File photo: Reuters/Caroline Chia)

SINGAPORE: A new initiative for youths to develop policy recommendations with the government will be launched later this year, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said on Friday (Apr 21).

The youth panels will be led by young people, with support from the National Youth Council and other government agencies.

“They will work on a topic or policy which resonates with the youths of today,” Mr Tong said.

“We will share our policy considerations and trade-offs, exchange data points, and most importantly, think with them on these questions.

“Against this backdrop, we will create space for our young people to take the lead in the deliberations and formulate suggestions.”

Mr Tong, who is also Second Minister for Law, was speaking on the fifth day of a parliamentary debate on President Halimah Yacob's address, which sets the agenda for the rest of this government's term. 

The minister said that youths are an important part of charting the way forward for Singapore. Youths also wish to be involved in nation-building, he added, citing an article from TODAY.

“Some of them made comments and there were reactions which piqued my interest. So I arranged to meet with a few of them and several other youths to learn for myself and hear for myself first-hand what they were most concerned about, how they saw their role as future leaders and what more could we do, to partner with them, to engage them, so that they can be part of that solution,” Mr Tong said.

One point which came up during these meetings was the desire among the young for “a more in-depth discourse” and hope for “more details” on how their feedback and suggestions on policies are being considered by the government.

Through the new initiative, the minister said authorities hope to engage youths in “meaningful and constructive discourse”.

Policy recommendations developed by the upcoming panels will be presented to the government, which will take them seriously, he said.

“We will make a conscious effort to close the loop with them, whatever the outcomes might be. Those which merit further discussion – we will consider for them to be presented here in parliament,” Mr Tong added.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) can “consider sponsoring a White or Green Paper” so that the proposals can be debated in the House.

This will also allow those involved in the recommendations to see the impact of their work.

Authorities will consult youths on the formation of these panels over the coming months, as well as the key policy issues that they hope can be discussed.

“We are formulating this carefully, and more details on these Youth Panels will be provided when ready,” said Mr Tong.

Beyond the inclusion of youths in national discussions, the minister also touched on other aspects that are key to forging stronger unity in Singapore, such as social harmony.

Authorities will continue to emphasise social mixing between different segments of our society.

“Key to fostering stronger unity is to have both occasion and opportunity for people from different backgrounds to see and enjoy spending time with one another ... so that we are not stratified and constantly in our own social circles and in our own echo chambers,” Mr Tong said.

Stratification is “very unhealthy”, and can lead to entrenched intergenerational stratification if not careful, he added.

Staying united also means being inclusive. Ideas being pursued by MCCY include encouraging sports participation among persons with disabilities.

Describing sports as a transformative tool, the minister said it can help persons with disabilities “to reduce the social stigma associated with their disability", and that they are "empowered to realise their potential”. 

At the same time, an inclusive society is also one where diverse skills and talents can be better appreciated and valued, and those with these talents have opportunities to develop and advance. 

Efforts are underway and authorities are providing more support for those who excel in the arts and sports, said the minister.

Source: CNA/sk(mi)


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