President Halimah’s address: 60-sec summary of Govt’s key priorities in remaining term

If you haven’t had time to sit through the President’s address at the opening of the second session of the 14th Parliament on Monday (Apr 10), it’s ok.

We sat through it and distilled a 60-second summary for you. Here we go.

Renewing our social compact and staying united

President Halimah Yacob opened her speech with a warning that in the face of an “increasingly dangerous and troubled world”, Singaporeans must stay united.

Staying united amid such uncertainties in the world requires every Singaporean to feel that they have a stake in the country.

“This is the main purpose of the Forward Singapore exercise – to renew and update our social compact even as we refresh our goals and strategies,” said President Halimah.

Singapore’s core values – fairness, inclusivity, mutual support, and the desire to give back to society – will shape the Government’s agenda for the remainder of this term, and these are its four key priorities:

1. Expand opportunities throughout life for every citizen, regardless of starting point

The PAP Government will continue doing its utmost to prevent the stratification inherent in unchecked meritocracy by giving every child an equal start in education and allocating more resources to those who start out with less.

But, our approach to education and work needs to change.

While we provide our children with plenty of opportunities, the President cautioned against going off the extreme end and drawing society into an “educational arms race”.

We also need to re-examine how we reward talent, especially practical and technical skills as well as social and empathetic traits (like those required in caregiving and community service).

“Every Singaporean must have the opportunity to take on work they find fulfilling and meaningful, build on their talents, give of their best, and be rewarded fairly for it.”

2. Strengthen social safety nets at every stage of life

The Government will extend unemployment and retraining support for older Singaporeans who face greater risk of unemployment due to rapid technological advancement.

Every Singaporean citizen will also have the opportunity to do a “significant skills reboot” in the course of their working lives.

“This will help to keep them employable, whether they progress further in their respective fields, or transit across to jobs in new areas of growth.”

3. Build a smart and liveable city

The Government will develop new centres and districts outside the Central Business District that will be integrated with technology.

The Government will also push ahead with plans to make our built environment more “people-friendly”.

This means districts that have distinctive character and heritage, are conducive for walking and cycling (i.e. healthier, sustainable modes of transport), and having vibrant housing estates.

4. Deepen sense of shared identity and mutual responsibility

All these Government action must not result in “a greater sense of dependency and entitlement”, said President Halimah.

Instead, we as a society must do our part and strengthen our collective responsibility to shape our social compact as well.

How? Employers must also invest in their workers; community partners must complement Government efforts in supporting the vulnerable.

A whole-of-society effort is needed to push for a better nation and unite in tackling the complex challenges ahead.

“Ultimately, our refreshed social compact is about a shared understanding of how we relate to and support one another in our next phase of nationhood. By pooling our individual expertise, experiences and resources, we can achieve better outcomes for ourselves, our fellow citizens and our nation, Singapore.”

Images: MCI/YouTube, CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash, Clement Chai on Unsplash, sol on Unsplash, lucas law on Unsplash