A WORD TO THE HOUSE...

Timeline of key presidential points

President Tony Tan Keng Yam gives his address at the opening of the second session of the 12th Parliament on May 16, 2014.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam gives his address at the opening of the second session of the 12th Parliament on May 16, 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

Every session of Parliament is opened with the President's address where they lay down the overarching objective for the year ahead.

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Here is a timeline of the key points made since Singapore's first president, Mr Yusof Ishak to now.


DEC 8, 1965

PRESIDENT YUSOF ISHAK

  • Build a multiracial society "welded ever closer together by ties of common experience".
  • Avoid being caught unprepared by working out every safeguard and counter to contingencies.

President Yusof Ishak with his wife, Puan Noor Aishah. PHOTO: NAS

MAY 6, 1968

PRESIDENT YUSOF ISHAK

  • National servicemen to be well trained and ready for combat, but should otherwise be in productive employment.
  • Singapore's "resilience, resourcefulness..." have allowed it to overcome regional problems.

Opening of parliament President Benjamin Sheares on Feb 10, 1977. PHOTO: ST FILE

JULY 21, 1971

PRESIDENT BENJAMIN SHEARES

  • A limit to the inflow of unskilled workers before fabric of society is strained.
  • Smaller families, land reclamation, good zoning and planning are key to improving quality of life.

OCTOBER 12, 1972

PRESIDENT BENJAMIN SHEARES

  • It is criminal negligence to allow foreign interests with large financial resources to manipulate internal politics.
  • Welfare state policies must be eschewed because the "selfish rejection of the work ethic" is fatal for Singapore.

FEBRUARY 21, 1975

PRESIDENT BENJAMIN SHEARES

  • Problems of the elderly will grow more difficult as more young families move into new flats without their parents.
  • High crime rates no longer correspond with high unemployment rates; national service extended to police force.

FEB 7, 1977

PRESIDENT BENJAMIN SHEARES

  • The People's Action Party as the dominant power must still ensure thorough debates in Parliament.
  • Voters have rejected the communist-linked demands of the opposition parties, such as the abolition of the Internal Security Act.
  • Formulate way of life by taking what is best from the West and fitting it into the Singapore context.

DEC 26, 1978

PRESIDENT BENJAMIN SHEARES

  • The next political leadership is the "single most important issue".

FEB 3, 1981

PRESIDENT BENJAMIN SHEARES

  • Be prepared for slower growth and even some unemployment in the coming years.
  • Defence of Singapore should not be regarded as a two- or three-year affair.

President Devan Nair on Feb 25, 1985. PHOTO: ST FILE

FEB 25, 1985

PRESIDENT DEVAN NAIR

  • Looking into ways to devolve control of new towns to ensure speedier response to local problems.
  • Move towards 100 per cent home ownership, with self-help schemes for those who cannot afford their own homes.

President Wee Kim Wee on Jan 9, 1989. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE

FEB 20, 1986

PRESIDENT WEE KIM WEE

  • Recession of 1985 a watershed in Singapore's development.
  • Must always ensure a good business environment.

JAN 9, 1989

PRESIDENT WEE KIM WEE

  • Alternative and dissenting voices will be listened to and accommodated where constructive.
  • Elected presidency system will be a further check and balance on political system.
  • Malay community feels it has not progressed as quickly as the rest.
  • Religious groups must not get involved in politics.

JUNE 7, 1990

PRESIDENT WEE KIM WEE

  • Restructure and improve vocational education.
  • Offer parents and students more flexibility and choices in the education system.

FEB 22, 1991

PRESIDENT WEE KIM WEE

  • Widen participation among Singaporeans in policy making.
  • Establish Edusave scheme which gives school-going children money from an endowment fund.

JAN 6, 1992

PRESIDENT WEE KIM WEE

  • Government will not subsidise consumption expenditure as it undermines virtues of thrift.
  • Institute of Technical Education to open to train both fresh school leavers and older workers.
  • New endowment fund, MediFund, set up to complement Medisave.

President Ong Teng Cheong during an interview. PHOTO: ST FILE

JAN 10, 1994

PRESIDENT ONG TENG CHEONG

  • Amid thriving economy, promote regional outlook among Singaporeans; remove obstacles that hinder entrepreneurs and companies from going offshore.
  • Upgrade local economy to avoid losing business to other countries with lower costs and more abundant resources.
  • Restructure tax system by introducing Goods and Services Tax, and reducing direct taxes.
  • CPF Minimum Sum to be raised gradually.
  • Rely on free market tempered by government intervention.

MAY 26, 1997

PRESIDENT ONG TENG CHEONG

  • Upgrade physical environment and build Singapore into a city of excellence.
  • Develop a vibrant and interesting city centre.
  • Schools to focus more on National Education to teach a younger generation how Singapore became a nation.

Former president S.R. Nathan speaking to grassroots leaders at a dialogue session. PHOTO: ST FILE

OCT 4, 1999

PRESIDENT S R NATHAN

  • What makes Singapore tick is its "heartware", which gives inner strength and common purpose to rally together amid diversity.
  • Constructive disagreement an essential step in clarifying issues and finding the best solution.

MARCH 25, 2002

PRESIDENT S R NATHAN

  • Strengthen entrepreneurship and risk-taking.
  • Reinforce racial and religious harmony, move beyond mere tolerance to enhance appreciation, build confidence.

JAN 12, 2005

PRESIDENT S R NATHAN

  • Singapore must fulfil responsibilities as a global citizen in an increasingly interdependent world.
  • Strengthen Total Defence to deal with lingering terrorism threat.
  • Persevere in efforts to shift social attitudes towards marriage and parenthood.
  • Help youth translate ideas into action by providing seed funding.

NOV 2, 2006

PRESIDENT S R NATHAN

  • When conditions are good, grow economy as fast as possible.
  • Attract more new immigrants to augment numbers and add talent and diversity.
  • Invest in R&D to build new capabilities in emerging areas.
  • Government spending to rise over the next decade as more is spent to fund social needs.

MAY 18, 2009

PRESIDENT S R NATHAN

  • Help companies stay viable and continue employing workers in wake of 2008 financial crisis.
  • Review specific strategies for growing different sectors of our economy, to adapt to the changed environment.
  • Leadership team must self-renew, must continue to induct new leaders in touch with the new generation.
  • Be a gracious people, raise standards of social behaviour and develop Singapore arts and culture.

Guest-of-honour, President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the Singapore Corporate Awards 2014 on July, 15 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

OCT 10, 2011

PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM

  • Seek quality growth by improving every job, raising productivity.
  • More skill upgrading programmes and pathways to educate children.
  • Government will engage citizens more extensively.
  • Strengthen social compact through volunteerism, philanthropy.

MAY 16, 2014

PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM

  • Strengthen social safety nets.
  • Improve social mobility, provide opportunities for all.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 10, 2016, with the headline 'Key presidential points'. Print Edition | Subscribe