President's Address on Monday night to set out Government's priorities and plans

President Halimah Yacob's address is mostly drafted by the Singapore's fourth-generation leaders, and it comes after a major Cabinet reshuffle.
President Halimah Yacob's address is mostly drafted by the Singapore's fourth-generation leaders, and it comes after a major Cabinet reshuffle.PHOTO: ST FILE

President Halimah Yacob will deliver her inaugural address tonight, and set out the Government's priorities and plans for the remainder of the current term of office. She will speak at 8.30pm at the opening of the second session of the 13th Parliament.

The address is mostly drafted by the country's fourth-generation leaders, and comes after a major Cabinet reshuffle that saw several young ministers taking on new portfolios and others being promoted.

Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC), who was appointed Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Industry in the reshuffle, said the Presidential Address "will be about building a better future for Singapore, amid a changing global landscape".

It will also dive into "how as people, society and government working together, we can keep Singapore thriving for the future", he added.

Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) said Singaporeans can expect the 4G leaders to present a fresh agenda to tackle other pressing issues.

He is looking forward to hearing them articulate "how we go about making the difficult moves and seek newer opportunities, why we should be optimistic and confident about our future, and how as a nation we can be galvanised into action to shape our common destiny".

When asked whether the speech would have a recognisable 4G imprint, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Transport Janil Puthucheary said the kind of long-term shifts that the 4G leaders will bring to Singapore will take a long time and will not all be evident in one speech.

"The nature of such speeches is that they must adapt to the changing realities of society, the changing realities of a country as time progresses and that has always been so," he said.

 
 
 

"I think there will be things in the speech that people will understand as being a shift, being a change, being a different approach, but I don't think it will be something that will be settled in one speech."

In a recent interview with The Straits Times, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said the Address will touch on issues such as meritocracy and social mobility, and how to position workers and the economy in the face of disruptive technology.

On the 4G leaders' vision for Singapore, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said it is how "we continue to keep this place that we call Singapore a land of opportunities where people can thrive".

From tomorrow, the various ministries will unveil their respective plans in public statements, known as Addenda to the President's Address. Parliament will typically sit a week after the Address to debate those plans and policies.

Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC) said that during this week-long debate, MPs will weigh in on the Government's plans as set out in the Address and Addenda.

"I will likely speak on how social work and volunteerism can bring our society closer together, amid the twin challenges of economic disruption and waning social mobility that all developed nations face", he added.

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has said several younger political office-holders will be speaking during the debate - "to share what we see as the long-term challenges, our hopes and dreams for Singapore, and how we can work with Singaporeans to take our country forward".

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2018, with the headline 'President's Address to set out Govt's priorities and plans'. Print Edition | Subscribe