Imagine Singapore over the next 50 years...

Imagine Singapore over the next 50 years...

SINGAPORE - Even as they celebrate the nation's jubilee anniversary, Singaporeans will get a chance to visualise what their country might look like over the next 50 years.

An expo offering a glimpse of Singapore's future, involving several key agencies, will cap SG50 celebrations this year, SG50 steering committee chief Heng Swee Keat told The Straits Times.

To be held near Gardens By the Bay at the end of the year, it will have interactive exhibits that show what life could be like in Singapore in the coming decades, in areassuch as education, leisure and the urban landscape.

Some of the ideas will hopefully come from Singaporeans, who will be asked to share their hopes and aspirations for the country's future, in the run-up to this "finale event", Mr Heng said in an interview on Thursday.

Mr Heng, who is also Education Minister, said Singaporeans, together with the Government, would have to make major decisions that could affect the country's survival and success in the years to come.

"We need to get everyone to think about what kind of journey we want to build," he added.

The large-scale exhibition, called "futuretogether.SG", comes at the end of a year that will see well over 100 events to commemorate SG50, many of them organised by individuals and groups tapping a $5 million celebration fund. Already, some $3 million has been disbursed for 100 projects, and another 250 proposals are being evaluated.

The myriad projects have attracted some criticism that too much money and effort are being expended, and that celebration fatigue may set in, with so many events on the horizon.

To this, Mr Heng said SG50 is really about "people coming together to celebrate in ways big and small... and not just about events per se". He added that a whole range of events would cater to more people.

"The more people take part, the more meaningful and successful our celebration will be," he said. "I hope it will engender an even deeper sense of togetherness as a people, a deeper sense of belonging to our nation, and that it will energise us to commit to working together to build a better future for all."

A potluck home-cooked food movement, #SGEatWithUs, is one project that has received a grant. Teacher Lee Li Theng, 35, who started it with two friends, said: "We just wanted to bring together Singaporeans and friends of Singapore to celebrate the identity that we have."

Freelance artist Don Low, 44, who planned Let's Draw! SG, which involves artists sketching their neighbourhoods and then exhibiting the sketches, said: "In a way, we are kind of trying to remember our neighbour with our drawing, trying to build up the sense of belonging to our neighbourhood, and to our country as well. It's more like a celebration among ourselves."

Several SG50 events will also take place overseas, such as a travelling exhibition of Singaporean contemporary art that will be held in Beijing, London and New York before returning to Singapore. Singapore's embassies abroad and several foreign embassies in Singapore, such as the Embassy of Mexico, have also organised events to celebrate SG50.

Mr Heng said: "We have become very globally connected... We want to celebrate with the world, and we want the world to celebrate with us."

This article was first published on Jan 10, 2015.
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