SINGAPORE - It's not about bleeding hearts and helping the downtrodden.
The social-service sector will play an increasingly important role as Singapore faces a widening income gap and as more foreigners move here, said academic Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Speaking at the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) Members Conference and Annual General Meeting, Professor Mahbubani said that the income gap and the influx of immigrants would create "social stresses" and tensions.
He said: "Your work becomes much more important, in making sure that the people at the bottom don't feel abandoned, left behind as society changes so rapidly in front of their eyes.
"It's not just about helping the individual, it's not just about making sure an 80-year-old person gets taken care (of). If you can create a much more caring society, a society in which people treasure and value each other, then you create a much stronger Singapore society that will withstand the challenges that we will inevitably face."
Indeed, the social-service sector will have to "move into a mindset of capabilities, solutions and resources", said Hsieh Fu Hua, president of NCSS, which has over 400 member voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs).
The operating expenditure of NCSS members has grown over nine per cent every year since 2007, to more than $700 million last year.
"With so many resources being pumped into the sector, and more coming. We have to move beyond looking to models like Mother Teresa, to a variety of other models," said Mr Hsieh.