Work hard to deserve people's trust: President

(From left) Ms Sim Ann, Mrs Josephine Teo, Ms Indranee Rajah, PM Lee Hsien Loong, President Tony Tan, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Ms Grace Fu and Dr Amy Khor after the swearing-in ceremony yesterday.
(From left) Ms Sim Ann, Mrs Josephine Teo, Ms Indranee Rajah, PM Lee Hsien Loong, President Tony Tan, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Ms Grace Fu and Dr Amy Khor after the swearing-in ceremony yesterday.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

The surprise landslide win of the People's Action Party in the Sept 11 polls shows Singaporeans found Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his team worthy of their trust.

And the new Government must continue to ensure that the hard- won faith of the voters is well deserved, President Tony Tan Keng Yam told them last night.

Dr Tan, speaking at a ceremony to swear in the new Cabinet, which he praised as "bold, strong and forward-looking", also had advice for them.

"Singaporeans have chosen to place their trust in you because they believed you were the most worthy of that trust. The trust of the people is a precious thing. It does not come easy," he said.

"You must continue to strive to deserve that trust. You must continue to engage Singaporeans honestly and openly. You must continue to speak frankly with them on the tough issues and lead with humility," he added at his first Cabinet swearing-in ceremony since he became President in 2011.

Even as he welcomed the new Cabinet, he also took stock of the good progress Singapore had made in the last term of government.

The Government has worked hard to improve the lives of Singaporeans and has renewed its commitment to a more caring and inclusive society, said Dr Tan as he listed a raft of measures being undertaken - from economic restructuring to the introduction of lifelong medical insurance MediShield Life.

Dr Tan also noted that "we have remained cohesive in spite of a more diverse populace".

Fault lines such as race and religion can divide, and external forces can tug at the nation too - terrorism and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria remain a deep concern, he said.

"But despite our differences, we remain united," he said, adding that Singapore stayed true to the convictions of its first president, Mr Yusof Ishak, who saw the country's variety of race, language, religion and culture as a strength.

But a long road lies ahead, said Dr Tan.

The world economy has hit a rough patch, and Singapore grapples with an ageing population and sits in a volatile region that grows ever more uncertain.

In the Sept 11 General Election, he noted that Singaporeans sent a clear signal that they wanted to stay together in the face of regional and global uncertainties, and to work with the Government for a better future.

"Singaporeans are a good-hearted and strong-spirited people. They will stand together in the hardest of times," he said.

"And as they have shown over the past 50 years, they are capable of responding to exceptional leadership to accomplish remarkable things."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2015, with the headline 'Work hard to deserve people's trust: President'. Print Edition | Subscribe