SG Together: Partnering Singaporeans To Build Our Future Singapore

To create a shared future for Singapore, public officers will have to partner Singaporeans in new ways to design and implement ideas, programmes and policies together.

Singapore Together citizen engagement projects

From work-life harmony to recycling to rejuvenating public spaces, the past year has seen many efforts by the government to work more closely with citizens and partners to create policies and programmes together.

This is all part of the Singapore Together movement – the government working with Singaporeans, and Singaporeans with each other, to build our future Singapore together. Aligned with this, public agencies are deepening their engagements with citizens and creating more opportunities for Singaporeans to step forward and contribute their ideas, talents and energies.

So if you already consult citizens and stakeholders regularly, for instance, the SG Together movement is about exploring other opportunities to engage citizens earlier in the process, or carry out initiatives together with citizens, not just for them.

This new partnership model is particularly important as Singapore faces more complex challenges, says Ms Dawn Yip, Coordinating Director for SG Together at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (Partnerships Project Office).

Today’s problems and issues, such as social mobility and climate change, require the “collective will, ideas and effort of the government and citizens”, she says.

Singapore has also become more mature and diverse, and citizens want to be more directly involved in shaping the future of Singapore.

Building partnerships

A good partnership means citizens feel they can help shape a policy or programme more directly, especially in areas they care about. Public agencies have been experimenting with different methods such as the citizens’ jury, participatory planning and using online tools to engage citizens, learning from examples and practitioners overseas, oftentimes reaching out and working with non-government partners to adapt and experiment with engagement designs that suit our local context.

Beyond any one “magic bullet”, however, Dawn says it is more critical to build strong long-term partnerships – both within the Public Service, and between public agencies, stakeholders and citizens.

The SG Together movement aims to develop the systems, structures and people that nurture such longer-term relationships.

Partnering with citizens has to be “permanent and sustained instead of an occasional ad hoc project or afterthought,” she adds. When the government intentionally nurtures long-term relationships with citizens, citizens feel valued and included in the journey of building a better Singapore. Partnership is also a form of continuous innovation. Public officers will find that they now have access to a greater diversity of ideas and resources to tackle increasingly complex policy challenges both within and outside of government.   

“Over time, you will then have trusted partners with whom to test new ideas and collaborate on new projects. They may even become advocates and spokespersons for initiatives they have been a part of.”

SG Together: The aspiration is for public agencies to

  • Reach out to new people who have not been engaged before;
  • Engage through processes that build consensus, co-create or co-deliver with citizens;
  • Open up new spaces for citizens to deliberate on and design policies and prototypes together with the government.

With SG Together, the hope is to ingrain the mindset of engaging citizens from the start, as “part of the DNA of our Public Service”.

Dawn says: “When public officers start a new piece of work, one of the first questions they should ask is – ‘Who and how must I engage?’ See citizens not as customers, but as potential contributors and co-creators.”

In the next few pages, read about how this mindset features across three citizen engagement projects of various sizes, resources and methods.

    Jan 24, 2020
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