Singapore Parliament reopens: Technology and kindness key for S'pore to be "smart nation"

SBS Transit buses at the Toa Payoh bus interchange. Singapore will make use of new technologies to be a "Smart Nation" for people to have a better quality of life, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said in Parliament on Friday night. -- ST PHOTO :&nbs
SBS Transit buses at the Toa Payoh bus interchange. Singapore will make use of new technologies to be a "Smart Nation" for people to have a better quality of life, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said in Parliament on Friday night. -- ST PHOTO : ALPHONSUS CHERN

Singapore will make use of new technologies to be a "Smart Nation" for people to have a better quality of life, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said in Parliament on Friday night.

Such a change will bring greener urban living, more transport options, better care for the elderly, public services that are more responsive and greater opportunities for citizen engagement.

"As our city becomes increasingly complex and diverse, the demands on amentities, infrastructure and resources will rise," said President Tan.

"We will make full use of new technologies to develop sustainable and innovative solutions that improve our lives.'' he added in his speech, which kicks off the second half of the Govenment's term. The House was prorogued last month for MPs to take stock of the progress made in the first half of the term.

Dr Tan did not go into the details of the various moves but the Government has in recent years unveiled new schemes and upgrading plans.

The Housing Board, for instance, has announced that from January this year, all new Build-to-Order estates would have green features, such as motion-activated LED lights to cut energy use and bicycle parking lots to encourage cycling.

Older flats can also be upgraded under the seven-year-old Home Improvement Programme. In 2012, the programme was expanded to include an elder-friendly scheme, which subsidises the installation of such items as grab bars and slip-resistant tiles in bathrooms.

Meanwhile, more than 300 buses have been put on the road since 2012 to improve public transport. These new buses are part of the $1.1 billion Land Transport Authority's Bus Service Enhancement Programme. In all, it will introduce about 550 buses over 10 years.

These infrastructural improvements are part and parcel of creating a "good home''.

Said Dr Tan: "A good home reflects the best of its people". It also "provides an environment for people to thrive".

On new immigrants and foreigners "who contribute to our society and economy," he advised citizens to "treat them with graciousness, kindness and fellowship, even as we expect them to respect our values and our Singaporean way of life."

"This spirit will enable us to progress and prosper together."