Making Singapore a place where millennials can chase dreams

Joseph Schooling of Singapore with the gold medal on the podium after winning the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's 100m butterfly final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12.
Joseph Schooling of Singapore with the gold medal on the podium after winning the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's 100m butterfly final at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Singapore must be a place where young people can chase their dreams - in both their careers and family life, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

A week after national swimmer Joseph Schooling, 21, won the nation's first gold medal at the Olympics, Mr Lee focused a section of his National Day Rally speech on millennials - in what seems to be his first public use of the term referring to those who were born in or came of age around the year 2000.

There are about half a million millennials in Singapore now, between 16 and their early 30s.

They are, said Mr Lee, an important group entering an important stage in their lives.

In his prepared remarks, he said: "Singapore must be a place where millennials can chase their dreams - not just in their careers, but also in families, which add meaning to our lives.

"Living in Singapore, millennials should see family as achievable, enjoyable and celebrated," he said.

The Government has looked into three areas to help this group of Singaporeans have families, Mr Lee said.

COMMUNITY ASPIRATIONS

The Prime Minister recognises that every community will have that aspiration to have someone from their own ethnic group hold the highest office in the land. He has been reflecting on it, and it reflects, very sincerely, PM's desire to tell every community in Singapore that he appreciates their aspirations and he wants to make sure that it is embedded in the Constitution, that he is prepared to amend the Constitution to make sure that it continues to solidify this multiracial nature of society...

'' DR MALIKI OSMAN, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs, on changes to the elected presidency.


SYMBOL OF SOCIETY

The elected president is a symbol of the society, and we are a multiracial, multicultural and multi-religious society. So we should allow the symbol to reflect these aspects as well. If, for a long time, you don't have a president from a specific race, in the long term, say, 20 or 30 years, surely people will talk.

'' DR FAISAL ABDUL AZIZ, 28, assistant secretary of the Kaki Bukit Citizens Consultative Committee, on changes to the elected presidency.


RACE NOT AN ISSUE

We have had non-Chinese presidents before, for instance, Mr S R Nathan and Mr Yusof Ishak, and they have been very well loved and well respected by all, despite their race. I don't think that people are inherently racist, but they are just more comfortable with people who look or speak like them.

'' MR ALEX YAM, an MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, on PM Lee's appeal to the Chinese community to support changes to the elected presidency.

They are: quicker access to public housing for those settling down, provision of quality pre-school services that are accessible and affordable, and better support for work and life aspirations.

Over the years, the Government has rolled out a raft of measures to this end.

In terms of public housing, for example, the Parenthood Priority Scheme was launched in 2013 to give first-timer married couples who are expecting or who have a citizenchild aged below 16 priority in getting a flat.

The scheme sets aside 30 per cent of flats in new Build-To-Order projects and 50 per cent of balance flats for such couples.

To help ensure that quality early childhood education is affordable and accessible to all, 20,000 new childcare places will be launched by next year.

There will also be enhanced pre-school subsidies.

"We will give every support and encouragement to families so that families can thrive - essential if the Singapore story is to have more chapters," said Mr Lee.

Mrs Josephine Teo, Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, who is also in charge of population issues, will speak more about the subject later this year, he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2016, with the headline 'Making S'pore a place where millennials can chase dreams'. Print Edition | Subscribe