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Incoming PM reimagines ‘Singapore Dream’ as Singaporeans grow weary of rat race.



In Singapore, the pursuit of material success has long been ingrained in the culture, with the Singapore Dream revolving around achieving the five Cs – a condominium, car, cash, credit card, and country club membership. However, as the city-state undergoes a major political transition, there is a growing movement towards redefining success beyond material possessions. Lawrence Wong, the incoming prime minister, has emphasized that the Singapore Dream is now more about fulfillment, meaning, and purpose in what individuals do.

This shift in priorities is evident in the changing attitudes of Singaporeans, as seen in a survey where more than half of respondents expressed willingness to accept lower pay or a less senior role to benefit their family or personal life. The younger generation, particularly millennials and Gen Z, who have only known prosperity, are increasingly seeking change and pushing for a more diverse and inclusive society. While the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has been trying to engage with younger voters and soften its image, there remains a question of whether concrete policy changes will follow.

Lawrence Wong, known for his handling of the country’s pandemic response, has been seen as a more relatable figure compared to Singapore’s traditional elites. As he takes office, there are hopes for small but much-needed changes in Singapore’s political culture. However, challenges remain in shifting the perception that growth is necessary at all costs. The Forward SG initiative aims to strike a balance between material and post-material concerns, focusing on fairness, social justice, egalitarianism, and national identity.

While Singapore’s economic transformation was a success story for previous generations, the younger population is calling for more accountability, checks, and fresh ideas in governance. There are concerns about structural issues in the economy, such as stagnating wage growth, that could impact the city-state’s future trajectory. Singaporeans are increasingly looking for a government that listens to and values their opinions, rather than dictating policies from the top down.

As individuals like former corporate lawyer Gerald Yeo reflect on their past pursuit of the Singapore Dream, they are now prioritizing their well-being and seeking meaning and fulfillment in life. Yeo’s decision to retire and focus on volunteering, photography, and travel highlights a growing trend in Singapore towards reevaluating priorities and finding a balance between work and personal life. Ultimately, the reimagining of the Singapore Dream represents a shift towards a more holistic definition of success that goes beyond material wealth.

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