Institute of Policy Studies’ 30th Anniversary Conference
On Thursday, 25 October, and Friday, 26 October, four Dunmanians attended the Institute of Policy Studies’ (IPS) 30th Anniversary Conference, Diversities – New and Old. At the conference, we witnessed policymakers, academics, media representatives, and students come together to share their perspectives on Singapore’s management of diversity.
Generally, there was a consensus that the evolution of Singapore’s social fabric presents a host of national challenges. For instance, income disparities have widened considerably since Singapore’s formative years of nation-building. This then perpetuates social immobility. Such emerging divisions threaten to fracture our national identity as a growing number of Singaporeans feel that they have been “left behind” by an uncaring “elite”. This was a narrative which has already been heard by many a student. Nevertheless, when several participants voiced their anxieties regarding the dearth of opportunities available to them gave the problem a sense of authenticity which could not possibly have been felt within the walls of a classroom. Widening income divisions are only one of the many trends which shape Singapore’s fabric. Many others exist which include, inter alia, the growing call for the societal acceptance of homosexuals and the increasing proportion of interracial marriages. These phenomena create unprecedented diversities in our already heterogeneous population. Participants broadly agreed that the opportunities and challenges arising from such diversities – and crucially, how they are managed – lie at the heart of Singapore’s very character as a nation. Herein lies the meaning of the conference: it was an avenue for Singaporeans from all domains of society to interact so that we can collectively achieve a holistic, in-depth and visceral understanding of how diversities are managed. This will eventually contribute to the effort to grant each Singaporean the opportunities for self-actualisation and social participation that are their birthrights.