President Halimah Yacob made her first-ever President’s address on Monday evening, for the second session of the Thirteenth Parliament.
Noting that Singapore has done well amidst an uncertain external environment, President Halimah pointed out that factors like a rising China and India, and developments in the Korean Peninsula can affect Singapore’s position.
At home, demands on our healthcare and social security systems will get heavier as our population ages. Inequality must be tackled, along with divisive forces such as religious polarisation and xenophobia.
In her speech, President Halimah mapped out the key priorities of the government in the coming years. Here are five highlights.
1) Securing Singapore’s position
President Halimah noted that the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team have been building up their capabilities, including against unconventional threats like terrorism and cyber-attacks.
There’s also a need to maintain good relationships with other countries, particularly with the US and China. ASEAN centrality and unity will be strengthened as we work with regional partners.
2) Building a World-Class city
To keep Singapore a well-connected city, Changi Airport Terminal 5 and a new Tuas Port are in the works. The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail and the Johor Bahru-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link will draw Singapore and Malaysia closer.
In reducing carbon emissions and working towards a car-lite city, President Halimah notes that we are working towards a greener and better living environment. The cityscape will change in the coming decades, too – for instance, moving the city ports to Tuas will double the size of the Central Business District.
3) Developing a vibrant economy
The economy is being renewed by investing in research and development, to optimise the use of technology and digitalisation. The start-up scene is being developed, including areas like FinTech and bioscience. Strengthening local companies will enable them to succeed both at home and abroad.
In a bid to help Singaporeans stay employable, SkillsFuture will anchor the national culture of lifelong learning, while Adapt and Grow will match workers to jobs.
4) Forging a caring society
Every child needs to be given a good start in life, so the quality of pre-schools will be raised, and more will be done for children at risk. Inequality will be tackled by providing support in housing, education and employment, for those who need it.
Seniors will be supported by enhancing elderly-friendly infrastructure, increasing their employability, and by keeping healthcare affordable. The government will support young families, as well as enable people with disabilities to lead full and active lives.
President Halimah also highlighted the need to build a culture where the better-off devote time, talent and resources to help the less fortunate.
5) Nurturing a Singaporean identity
Zooming in on the Singapore Bicentennial in 2019 (marking 200 years after Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore), President Halimah says that it will be an occasion to trace our roots and draw inspiration for the journey ahead. We will reflect on the meaning of being Singaporean, and the common values and beliefs that bind us together.
Summing things up, President Halimah adds that the fourth generation leadership needs to work together with the new generation of Singaporeans, as they “go through trials and tribulations together, and forge their own bonds afresh”.
Click here for the full speech.