SINGAPORE - Working at the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) was a wish come true for Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, he said in a farewell note on Sunday (Sept 10).
The outgoing Minister for Social and Family Development, who will leave his post to be nominated as Speaker of Parliament on Monday, said he had hoped to join the MSF when he first entered politics in 2011.
In a note posted on the MSF website, in which he thanked his staff, he said: "Today marks my last day at the Ministry of Social and Family Development...it was with great delight that I was posted here in 2015."
He added: "Throughout my time at MSF, I have been heartened to work with so many colleagues and partners in the social sector who are passionate and dedicated in their efforts to assisting fellow Singaporeans who need a helping hand. A big thank you to all the heart and hard work that you have put in."
Recounting his two years in the ministry, he said he believes strongly in its mission to nurture resilient individuals, strong families and a caring society.
He added that the MSF had started out as a social welfare department in 1946, and while it has gone through many portfolio changes, the aim remains the same - "to ensure no one gets left behind".
"The government has many social safety nets in place for those who need help. We don't want to just catch them when they fall; more importantly, we want to help them get back onto their feet," he said.
A programme particularly close to his heart, he said, is KidStart, which aims to help families as early as possible.
KidStart offers a range of support for children from disadvantaged families aged up to six About 400 families are currently on the pilot scheme that started a year ago.
"Early intervention makes a difference, and we want to help families as early as we can to help level the starting ground for children so they have a chance at a brighter future," said Mr Tan.
He added that the Government has also set up a network of Social Service Offices and Family Services Centres to help distressed families improve their situations.
"Family is the most important unit in society, and it's important to ensure that our family ties remain strong with our immediate and extended families," he said.
While the MSF's programmes and policies help lay the foundations for an inclusive and caring society, said Mr Tan, he urged people to help build a Singapore that embraces and supports people with disabilities as well as caregivers.
"It is important to continue strengthening support for our caregivers, as well as bring the wider Singapore on board to be more understanding of those with different needs... I believe we can continue to do more to achieve our aims for an inclusive Singapore," he said.
Mr Tan thanked MSF staff, workers from the social services sector and volunteers, saying: "We want to develop the culture of giving and living out our values. Everyone can play a part and collectively we can make a bigger impact."
He added: "Your work is often not easy, especially when facing difficult decisions concerning safety and welfare of the vulnerable. Don't give up and do continue to make a difference. It really matters. I will always root for MSF, its causes and its people, regardless of where and in which capacity I serve."
Mr Tan will be nominated as Speaker of Parliament when the House sits on Monday. The Speaker cannot be elected from Members of Parliament who are office holders.