It’s the start of the year and while most of you are making new resolutions (or false promises); we talk to some of Singapore’s most outspoken personalities about their hopes for the future.
On Local Fashion:
“Besides a shift in consumer behavior, I do hope to see more works from emerging designers. The various competitions held by fashion publications like Harper’s Bazaar and Men’s Folio over the last two years have seen a heightened profile of these graduates with great works. The continued pace of showing one’s works is essential for a designer to remain ‘seen’.” Max Tan, founder and designer, MAX.TAN.
“Mall operators need to know that Singapore designers, as well as Asian ones, are now just as strong as international labels. In fact, they have a unique and interesting fashion D.N.A, which combines Asian roots with western sensibilities, like Ong Shunmugam, In Good Company, Aijek, Frederick Lee, Carrie K and more, who have carved a niche and developed a strong USP (unique selling point) to their products. My wish for 2016 would be a better and fairer representation of Singapore and Asian designers in our malls and stores.” David Wang, fashion retail consultant
“It’s very encouraging that in 2015, our authorities passed many films and content that might not have gotten through in previous years. We as a society need to keep questioning and keep pushing the boundaries. We hope that through constant dialogue and negotiations, we can make this happen.” Viknesh Kobinathan, assistant programmer, The Projector.
“I hope to see more wildness—platforms for local films of all sorts, more dialogue about local films, more documentaries that challenge the medium, and more experimental, esoteric work! I also hope there will be more local films in the Singapore International Film Festival and that the festival is able to expand its local audience base.” Ng Xi Jie, director and multidisciplinary artist
On supporting homegrown music
Photo credit: Aimee Han
“We need to build a better ecosystem. We’ve got plenty of great talent, but a serious lack of managers, producers, engineers, music journalists, promoters. But the only way to get this scene to a level where it can sustain itself is by having the right people who wouldn’t mind taking a few bullets in order to get the ball rolling.” Charlie Lim, singersongwriter
On Singapore’s Conservation Efforts
“I would highlight new nature parks like the Windsor Nature Park which are currently under development, as well as those that opened recently on the outskirts of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve as the most exciting development for 2016. The development of these parks means that we will soon have a good buffer zone around the forested habitats, allowing for continued spill over of fauna and flora into these areas. These nature parks also provide recreation to the increasing population.” Tony O’Dempsey, conservationist and spokesperson for nature reserve matters with the Nature Society (Singapore)
On Making Art in Singapore Better
“In 2015, I saw many theater and art productions which set a grand concept but turned out looking amateurish. We need to get away from manufacturing to creating art. More artists are taking more time to research, analyze, experiment and explore their related art forms and this is indeed a good sign. My wish is to see commissioners taking bigger risks to create brave works in Singapore, and hope that Singaporeans are more open to new approaches in the arts.” Goh Boon Teck, chief artistic director,
“The current arts scene is more developed and exciting than, say, 20 years ago. But there are gaps. There are still cliques and silos within each form, and a dearth of sturdy critical literature to appraise what is being created. Visual artists and dramatists also have it better than, say, writers. Writing is a lonelier, less glamorous business. I’d like to see a physical literary center being set up in the near future, where writers can hang out, learn from one another, exchange ideas, and cook up some far-out projects.” Yeow Kai Chai, poet
“In the coming years, it is a dream of mine to see creatives and audiences become one, as we are all in the same boat. I hope to see art happening in a more organic way, breaking free of compartmentalization, like how graffiti can only be done at select zones like The Rail Corridor. We should be able to free up the space, create more flow in the country and share even more broadly, because regulations ironically lead to an elitist consumption of the arts. Regulations means those in the ‘know’ will be able to get to the art while expression should be free for all to experience as part of daily life.” Ong Keng Sen, festival director, Singapore International Festival of Arts
On the local F&B scene
“With the continued growth of the F&B industry, there aren’t enough qualified Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to fill the necessary positions. We hope to be able to hire talents for both the kitchen and the service, regardless of the individual’s nationality.” Jason Tan, chef, Corner House
“I hope to see even more growth in the local farming movement and have chefs utilize vegetables in more creative and fun manner. The popularity of the farming movement will also ensure fresher vegetables grown and consumed locally as well as discovery and exploration of more delicious edible plants.” Cynthia Chua, founder and CEO of The Spa Esprit Group
On better protection for migrant workers
“We should not treat foreign workers as just cheap labor but people with dignity and rights. Exorbitant recruitment fees of up to $15,000 have been paid by these workers. I also would like to see employers and agents come together to say they will adopt a zero recruitment fee policy. ” Jolovan Wham, executive director, Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME)
On animal welfare
“With the laws strengthened in 2015 against animal cruelty, we look forward to seeing enforcement efforts fully stepped against errant pet shops, illegal breeding and animal abuse perpetrators to send a strong message that there is no place in our society for profiting or perpetuating the suffering of animals.” Thenuga Vijakumar, president, Cat Welfare Society
On building an inclusive LGBT community
“Singaporeans are generally fair minded and accepting save for a very vocal minority. The increasing number of straight allies and families coming out in support of Pink Dot shows that attitudes are changing and evolving.” Deryne Sim, spokesperson, Pink Dot
On fostering the kampong spirit
“If there was any kind of secret sauce to social cohesion, I would say it’s empathy. This applies, I suspect, to not only social problems but also to all types of problems. If only we learned and listened more, and if we go out of our way to try to learn how others feel, we would be so much better off.” Adrianna Tan, founder, Culture Kitchen
On cultivating entrepreneurship
“We would love to see the education system become more industryknowledge based rather than merely books-based. While there are small changes being made, like schools using situational and case studies to teach students, more changes need to follow [so we can see] improvements in the entrepreneurial scene as people are more informed about the challenges faced by small-medium enterprises.” Valerie Chai (middle) co-founder, Superlife Co.