Success can be found in every area of life, and is not a dirty word. It brings great value to society when people take pride in what they do, and when young people discover something that they enjoy and put in the effort to be good at it.

Encouraging Singaporeans to succeed in their own ways, and giving those who start off with disadvantage a real opportunity to find their strengths and do well, are at the core of what makes an inclusive society. Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam said this to an audience of 300 people on 24 November 2012, most of whom were youth, as they discussed how Singapore can head closer towards an inclusive society.

Organised by YSA, the dialogue brought together a wide range of Singaporeans, including those from different ethnic and income backgrounds as well as new citizens, for a closed-door dialogue session with DPM Tharman to discuss an important issue.

“In this year’s national day message, the Prime Minister had announced the idea of having a national conversation and he sketched out the vision of Singapore along the themes of Hope, Heart and Home. YSA’s mission is to fully understand and inculcate the aspirations of Singapore’s society, and to enhance mutual understanding on issues of common concern. As such, this dialogue allowed us to play our part and reach out to members of the community to be a part of this conversation. Hopefully this can help make an inclusive Singapore Society a reality”, said Malminderjit Singh, President of YSA.

The dialogue session was candid and lively, where participants voiced their opinions and comments without inhibition. DPM Tharman answered the many questions from the audience and included his own anecdotes on how we can improve our society as well as encouraging the younger participants in the audience to pursue a course or career in an area that they will enjoy, “because when you do something you enjoy, you put something extra into it, and you eventually do well.”

Commenting on the more active discussion on issues that takes place in Singapore, including critical online views, DPM Tharman said, “Some things are inevitable as our society matures. We will have different views on various matters, local or national. Young people often have different perspectives than those in the baby boom generation, who in turn think differently on some issues from the pioneering generation. Views also differ more widely within the same generation.”

“We can see all this already, and must provide room for these different perspectives. But what is really important is that we keep a strong consensus on our core values – the values that allow us to make a living in an intensely competitive world, that lead us to respect every type of ability and every job, and that will make the journey ahead worthwhile for all Singaporeans.”

When asked about her concerns as a young Singaporean, student Simranpal Kaur, 21, said, “As a student who will be in the workforce in a few years, my friends and I have many relevant concerns such as what career we should pursue and if we will only be successful in certain types of careers or if we should only work in the areas relevant to what we have studied. DPM’s advice was reassuring in that we can all aspire to do what we enjoy most.”

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