SINGAPORE - President Halimah Yacob pledged on Thursday (Sept 14) to exercise independent judgment in her role as steward of Singapore's reserves and the integrity of the public service.
"In exercising my custodial powers, I will use my independent judgment, consulting the Council of Presidential Advisers, and working closely with the Prime Minister and the Government," she said in her inaugural speech after she was sworn in as President at the Istana. She was elected unopposed the previous day.
Besides being a symbol of national unity, the President holds the second key to Singapore's hard-earned reserves and significant appointments in the public service.
President Halimah addressed this aspect of her role when she spoke on stewardship, a value shared by Singaporeans and embodied by the presidency.
She noted that Singaporeans have benefited from the hard work of earlier generations, and inherited a prosperous and well-developed city, a clean and efficient system, and shared values.
"Now it is our responsibility to steward this island-nation well, so we can pass on to future generations a better country, a more robust system and a stronger commitment to our values," she said.
Guarding the reserves and public service
To plan for the future and build for the next generation, Singapore has to invest in its economy and people, President Halimah said.
She cited infrastructure, education and healthcare as programmes that will improve the lives of Singaporeans, make them more productive and create more opportunities for the next generation.
"But they also cost billions of dollars. Budgets will be tight,'' she added.
"We need to grow our economy so as to generate more resources to afford these programmes and investments. We will also need to husband our reserves carefully," she said.
These reserves have been built through the hard work and careful stewardship of successive governments and generations of Singaporeans, she noted.
"Income from the reserves is an important source of government revenue. But the reserves themselves must not be used, except for very good reason," she said.
Another asset of Singapore is its honest and capable public service.
It enables Singapore to perform well as a nation and hold its own against international competitors, President Halimah said.
"I will do my duty to ensure that new appointments to critical posts measure up to our high standards of integrity and ability. The public service must maintain its high quality and standing in order to continue to serve Singapore well," she added.