Five things from President Tan's opening address to 13th Parliament
As Singapore enters its next half century, President Tony Tan Keng Yam urged Singaporeans to build an exceptional nation that leaves a stronger mark on the world than its size suggests. FOO JIE YING (email@example.com) looks at five things he touched on as he addressed the 13th Parliament yesterday
NO EASY JOURNEY AHEAD
In a world where size and power still matter, Singapore thrives only because it safeguards its interests, said President Tony Tan Keng Yam.
The reality is that Singapore remains a small country with no natural resources other than its people.
"We earn a living only because we are useful to the rest of the world," he said in the traditional President's Address at the opening of the 13th Parliament of Singapore.
The House started its five-year term yesterday with 89 Nominated Members of Parliament (MPs) and two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMPs) taking their oath of allegiance to the country before Dr Tan's speech.
He said: "Our region has become more integrated with the establishment of the Asean community. If Asean remains stable and our neighbours prosper, we too will prosper.
"But if Asean is fraught with tension or our neighbours stumble, we too will suffer."
KEEPING SINGAPORE SAFE AND SECURE
Dr Tan said there is a need to keep Singapore's society united and resilient in the face of terrorist threats including Thursday's bomb blasts in Jakarta.
He said: "Attacks elsewhere have shown that terrorism can arise at home, and not just come from abroad. A terrorist attack here will not only cause death and injury, but could also tear apart our social fabric.
"Singapore has to safeguard our sovereignty in order to safeguard our livelihoods. And the only way to do it is to invest in Singapore's security and expand our international space through diplomacy."
"We must resist the impulse to divert attention and resources from security as domestic needs burgeon," he pointed out.
A PLACE TO 'CHASE RAINBOWS'
Singapore must renew our economy so that the children here can "chase rainbows and fulfil aspirations".
This is where the Committee on the Future Economy comes in to ensure Singapore remains relevant and competitive, said Dr Tan.
The committee will develop strategies to ensure that Singapore retains its edge.
Restructuring may take place in some companies and that "there will be winners and losers among companies, with some painful dislocation, but economic progress will ultimately benefit all Singaporeans".
Dr Tan said the SkillsFuture framework must succeed as mastering skills is the only way workers can be equipped for "the jobs of the future".
Dr Tan envisions Singapore to be a caring society, which starts with every individual.
He said: "Ours should be a society where the bonds of kinship run deep and people look out for one another. A society where we extend our concern for immediate families and friends to the broader community. A society consisting of generous hearts who treat one another with warmth and dignity - including those who have just joined us, or those who are here only a while."
But this caring society has to be sustainable over the long term.
Dr Tan said: "We do not want to end up like many developed countries that cannot afford their over-generous welfare schemes."
Instead, the Government will keep healthcare affordable, accessible and of high quality.
We can also play our part by living healthily and well.
"The Action Plan for Successful Ageing will help seniors lead fuller and more fulfilling lives," he added.
GOOD POLITICS, SOUND POLICIES
Capable and honest political leadership, which does not happen by chance, develops and delivers on sound policies.
Every successive Government must take leadership renewal seriously and each new generation of leaders must win anew the people's trust, said Dr Tan.
He also highlighted the importance of having a political system that makes honesty and trustworthiness imperatives for every politician.
The system must also serve the interest of all and for alternative views to be considered, he pointed out.
Over the years, changes have been made to suit Singapore's needs, such as introducing NCMPs and MPs in Parliament, he said.
Dr Tan said that while the political system has delivered stability and progress for Singapore, it must be refreshed from time to time in line with the changing circumstances.
"The Government will study this matter carefully, to see whether and how we should improve our political system so that we can be assured of clean, effective, and accountable government over the long term," he said.
How do we ensure our island-nation remains a shining red dot, so that our children and grandchildren will thrive?
- President Tony Tan Keng Yam, in his speech at the opening of the 13th Parliament yesterday