Singapore Parliament reopens: Work together for better Singapore, says President Tony Tan
Published on May 16, 2014 8:58 PM
Parliament's re-opening on Friday was marked by a pledge by political leaders to build a better and brighter Singapore, and a call for all citizens to do the same.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam, in a speech setting out the key priorities of the Government's second term, ended on an optimistic note and said the country's best years lie ahead.
Singapore's 50th birthday next year is an opportune occasion to renew the pledge of building a better and brighter nation, he added.
The President's address traditionally marks the opening of a Parliament session and is approved by the Cabinet. Parliament was prorogued on April 15 for MPs to take stock of their work.
Dr Tan noted that major shifts had been made in the last decade to build a more inclusive society and to transform Singapore's economy.
The ComCare public assistance scheme and the Workfare income supplement scheme had been launched to take care of the needy as well as low-wage workers, for instance.
And in recent years, further changes were made in areas such as housing and public transport.
The Government also implemented parenthood and immigration policies to ensure Singaporeans form the "heart and strength" of the nation, he said.
It also slowed the inflow of foreign workers, while "being mindful" of keeping the economy vibrant.
And when social issues became pressing, said Dr Tan, the Wage Credit Scheme and progressive wage model were introduced to help raise workers' pay.
These were examples of how the Government had been continuously adjusting and adapting over the past 10 years to changes in "global competition, the limits to growing our labour force, and to the evolution of Singapore society", he said.
And its plans for the future were a reflection of this determination to keep adapting, improving and upgrading, he added.
But even as Singapore adapted to the changing environment, Dr Tan said, fundamentals such as the country's small size would not change.
As such, Singapore will always be "navigating dangers and threats in an uncertain world", and should never take security for granted, he cautioned.
Effective diplomacy and a strong army and Home Team were, therefore, necessary to provide the "sense of security to pursue our dreams", said Dr Tan.
He said Singapore's pioneer generation had fought hard for the country's survival, and had created in Singapore "something special and precious for all of us to enjoy".
The $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package, announced in this year's Budget, was a sincere expression of appreciation for their sacrifices and contribution, he added.
But a better way to honour them, he said, was to uphold the same pioneering spirit, to "dream and fight for Singapore".
He urged Singaporeans, especially the young, to "take the torch, run faster and further, and keep Singapore's light burning bright".
"We have not overcome all our challenges, but we are determined to do so, and we will," he said.
"Singapore remains a home that brings out the best in us."