Speech by Minister Grace Fu for MCCY at the Committee of Supply Debate
Building a caring and inclusive community together.
09 Mar 2017
1. Madam Chair, with your permission, I will display some slides.
Working together to build a caring society
2. Mr Henry Kwek has asked about corporate giving. The corporate sector is stepping up, and Deloitte Singapore is a good example. When we hosted the 2015 SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, Deloitte provided sponsorship, and their staff volunteered in creative and marketing support for the Games.
3. As an active member of the spexBusiness Network under SportSG, Deloitte has provided career development opportunities to Team Singapore athletes, such as netballers Charmaine Soh and Kimberly Lim, and recently retired shuttler Derek Wong. The athletes enjoy a work environment that supports their success in the sporting arena and the workplace.
4. Deloitte has also partnered NorthLight School, to help the students develop their skills and talents through sports. And, as part of their annual day of service, Deloitte organised a dragon-boat session at the Sports Hub for the students.
5. We would like more companies to follow Deloitte’s lead and give back to society. Last year, the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) launched the Company of Good Programme. The programme helps Singapore-registered companies build capability in giving and connects them with other businesses to champion corporate giving. Today, there are more than 470 members in the network.
6. To strengthen the culture of corporate giving, NVPC is launching two new programmes this year. The Champion of Good programme recognises companies that demonstrate best practices, and are committed to advocating corporate giving in Singapore.
7. The second programme, Company of Good Fellowship, aims to grow a community of corporate leaders and develop their capabilities in leadership and corporate giving, through targeted training, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
Inclusive spaces and programming
8. I agree with Dr Lim Wee Kiak and Ms Joan Pereira, that sports and culture must be accessible to all.
9. Last year, we announced the Disability Sports Master Plan. Under this plan, we are expanding access for persons with disabilities to take part in sports, and developing the organisational and professional capabilities to do so. SportSG has launched a Centre of Expertise for Disability Sport in Sengkang, with plans to set up at least five such centres in the next few years. It has also offered programmes in Swimming, Wheelchair Rugby which is held in Toa Payoh, Goalball, Wheelchair Tennis and Badminton, and will introduce new ones in Football and Boccia. We have an Inclusive Gym at the Enabling Village, and there are plans to introduce this at ActiveSG Sports Centres in Bedok, Jurong West, Tampines and Toa Payoh.
10. We will ride on the momentum from the ASEAN Para Games and the Paralympics, and work with partners to raise public awareness for disability sports.
11. One recent collaboration is with four undergraduates from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) through their final year project, aptly named, Project This Ability. To promote para-sports as a social activity, they translated the International Symbol of Access into signs that depict wheelchair users playing sports. These new signs will be placed at educational institutions, sports centres and MRT stations.
12. I attended their Para Sports Day last Saturday at the Enabling Village, where over 230 persons with disabilities, family and friends gathered to try different para-sports. By raising the profile of para-sports, and inviting everyone regardless of ability to try, the students are helping to foster an inclusive sporting community, and they are doing a very good job in introducing para-sports to persons with disabilities. They are generating awareness; they are getting people involved; they are doing a wonderful job for NTU undergraduates.
13. Our cultural institutions are also making their spaces more accessible.
14. The National Gallery has monthly “Gallery Signs” tours, which are led by a docent and a sign language interpreter. At the Singapore Art Museum, many of the works in the annual Imaginarium exhibition, can be explored using touch or hearing. This enables visitors with hearing or visual impairment to appreciate the works.
15. This year, we will strengthen special needs training for museum staff, docents and volunteers.
16. We will also be adopting the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), to allow persons with disabilities to use picture cards to communicate their needs.
17. With regard to Ms Joan Pereira’s suggestion to have museums conduct tours in vernacular languages, these are currently available at many of our national museums and heritage institutions.
18. With these developments, everyone can participate more fully in sports and the arts.
Supporting IPCs in their giving overseas
19. Mr Louis Ng spoke about the Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) that extend overseas to help our neighbours.
20. IPCs enjoy Government support. They are allowed to issue tax deduction receipts on qualifying donations. Hence, there is an expectation that IPCs exclusively help the local community. Where there is an exceptional basis to allow otherwise, the Minister may grant a waiver so they can conduct overseas activities.
21.With regard to fundraising for foreign charitable purposes, at least 80% of funds collected, by both IPCs and non-IPCs, must go towards charitable purposes in Singapore. This ensures that resources are not collected from the public for overseas causes, at the expense of local needs. The Commissioner of Charities can and does, on a case-by-case basis, waive this rule to support, for example, appeals in aid of providing immediate disaster relief.
Helping our youth stay resilient
22. Mr Henry Kwek highlighted the challenges that youths face as they enter the workforce and the need for resilience and confidence.
23. We agree that these are important values, which cannot be acquired overnight unfortunately. They are cultivated over time by family, by parents, and even our schools. Later experiences at Outward Bound Singapore (OBS), Youth Corps Singapore, and National Service reinforce these qualities.
24. Our role at MCCY is to grow these strengths in our youths, and empower them to chart their own paths, as they transit from school to the workplace.
25. *SCAPE, for instance, offers personal development workshops to help youths gain awareness of their aptitude and interests, and work towards their future aspirations. *SCAPE also exposes youths early to possibilities in the working world, by bringing practitioners from different industries to share about their experiences.
26. In addition, we are partnering the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), agencies such as SkillsFuture Singapore and NTUC, to enhance career guidance through roadshows, industry talks, mentorship, as well as the upcoming MySkillsFuture portal.
27. Employment aside, youths face other issues when transiting from school to the working world. To help them plan, save and realise their aspirations, we have been working with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and other agencies to equip them with basic financial literacy and planning skills. We are also partnering NurtureSG and the Ministry of Health (MOH) on youth mental well-being and self-care, as it is important for our youths to maintain a sense of perspective and stay balanced in the face of challenges.
Engaging our citizens living overseas
28. Mr Leon Perera asked about what MCCY is doing to attract overseas Singaporeans to return.
29. While the issue of emigration comes under the purview of NPTD, MCCY’s Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) keeps in contact with Singaporeans living overseas, to maintain their ties back to Singapore. We engage them through social media, update them on latest policy announcements and developments in Singapore, conduct talks with business and Government leaders, and support events which bring Overseas Singaporeans together, such as Singapore Day.
30. OSU coordinates the various Government channels to facilitate the return of Overseas Singaporeans and ease in the transition. For example, the Overseas Singaporean Portal offers information to support the relocation journey of OS, customised to their profiles and needs. In addition, MOE has a one-stop interface for Returning Singaporean students, to support their school placement.
31. For Singaporeans who choose to remain overseas, we hope they continue to fly our flag high, believe in Singapore, and find ways to create our nation’s future together.
MCCY – Heart of the nation
32. Madam Chair, MCCY’s work goes to the heart of the nation. The pulse of the nation beats through our arts, heritage, community, sports and youth sectors.
33. At our museums and galleries, we feel that heartbeat. Through the arts and heritage, we celebrate the energy of Singapore’s cultural diversity.
34. At our stadiums and sports centres, we feel that heartbeat. We cheer for our sporting heroes, and like them, we pursue our dreams and reach for the stars.
35. Through OBS, our children feel that heartbeat as they support one another, and develop the qualities they need to overcome tomorrow’s challenges together.
36. With a strong heart that beats as one, we will build a caring and cohesive society, a confident and resilient nation, and a better home together. Thank you.