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“Singapore 21: Together, We Make the Difference” is launched Apr 1999

Unveiled in April 1999, the report by the Singapore 21 Committee, titled Singapore 21: Together, We Make the Difference, proposed a new national vision to strengthen the “heartware” of Singapore in the 21st century.[1] The Singapore 21 vision envisaged a three-way partnership between the people, the public sector and the private sector to build greater social cohesion, sense of community and national belonging among Singaporeans.[2] The Singapore 21 vision was first outlined by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong who, in a parliamentary address in June 1997, emphasised the need for Singapore “to move beyond material progress, to a society which places people at its very centre”.[3]

In October 1997, then Minister for Education Teo Chee Hean was appointed chairman of a 10-member panel tasked to "identify new ideas to make Singapore the place of choice to live a fulfilling life, make a good living and raise a happy family".[4] The main Singapore 21 Committee and its five sub-committees totalled 83 members, which included Members of Parliament, volunteers in welfare and community organisations, lawyers, unionists, businessmen and teachers.[5] Each sub-committee focused on one of the following five dilemmas faced by Singaporeans: less stressful life versus retaining drive; needs of senior citizens versus aspirations of the young; attracting foreign talents versus looking after Singaporeans; internationalisation/regionalisation versus Singapore as home; and consultation and consensus versus decisiveness and quick action.[6]

The Singapore 21 report was the result of extensive consultation sessions with some 6,000 Singaporeans from all walks of life.[7] The report put forth five ideals that together formed the new national vision: every Singaporean matters; strong families; opportunities for all; the Singapore heartbeat; and active citizenship.[8]

1. Singapore 21 Committee. (1999). Preface. In Singapore 21: Together, we make the difference (p. 7). Singapore: Singapore 21 Committee. Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN; Ng, I. (1999, 25 April). People’s vision of new S'pore. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Creating a new tripartite alliance for S21 vision: Teo. (1999, May 10). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. PM Goh’s vision of a new era for Singapore. (1997, June 7). The Straits Times, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
4. Govt to set up S’pore 21 ideas committee. (1997, August 25). The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Teo Chee Hean named to head Singapore 21 panel. (1997, October 20). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Singapore 21 Committee, 1999, p. 7.
6. Fernandez, W. (1997, October 20). Panel to get views of as many people as possible. The Straits Times, p. 30. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Singapore 21 Committee, 1999, p. 7.
8. Ng, I. & Lee, J. (1999, April 25). 5 ideas to guide S’pore. The Straits Times, p. 32. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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