In her inaugural President's Address yesterday, Madam Halimah Yacob pledged again to serve all Singaporeans, regardless of their race or background.
She noted that the Constitution had been amended "to reflect our multiracial values, by ensuring that all ethnic groups have a chance to be represented in the highest office in the land". She was honoured to serve as the first Malay president in 47 years, after the Republic's first president, Mr Yusof Ishak, she added.
"I renew today the pledge that I made when I took my oath of office in September last year: I will serve every Singaporean regardless of race, language or religion."
Madam Halimah was elected last September, following constitutional changes to reserve elections for groups that have not held the presidency for some time. The presidential election last year was reserved for Malay candidates and the former Speaker was the sole eligible candidate, becoming Singapore's first woman president.
Yesterday, she also promised to safeguard Singapore's reserves and ensure they are drawn upon properly - only under exceptional circumstances, or for other "very good reasons".
In a reference to the Budget delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in February, she said the Government had to make some tough choices.
Among the announcements this year was a controversial goods and services tax (GST) hike to 9 per cent, to take place some time from 2021 to 2025. Some critics had called for more of the reserves to be used instead.
Madam Halimah said: "We had to take some difficult decisions. These steps were necessary to strengthen our long-term fiscal position, ready us for an ageing population and fund infrastructure investments on a sustainable basis. As your President, I will safeguard our reserves and ensure that they are drawn upon properly and only under exceptional circumstances, or for other very good reasons."