Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Parliament Reopens: President's Address


Singapore Parliament reopens: Key points of President Tony Tan's speech

Singapore's 12th Parliament resumed on Friday with the Government pledging anew to build a better and brighter Singapore, and calling on all Singaporeans to do the same.


In a speech that set out the priorities, policies and programmes for the rest of the term, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said that it was an important moment in Singapore's history as the country prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence next year.

Singapore's best years lie ahead, he said.

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10 things from President Tony Tan's address at the opening of Parliament



President Tony Tan Keng Yam opened the new session of Parliament on Friday night. In a speech, he mapped out the Government's priorities and policies as Singapore marks its Golden Jubilee next year. He said the Golden Jubilee "will be an occasion for us to re-dedicate ourselves to building a better Singapore". Here are 10 highlights of his speech:

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President Tony Tan lays out six broad goals for Singapore govt

President Tony Tan Keng Yam has pledged to work with all Singaporeans to address their concerns and aspirations, and build a better future, in his speech at the re-opening of Parliament after its traditional mid-term break.

He also laid out six broad goals for the Singapore government: strengthening safety nets, enhancing retirement adequacy, supporting families and communities, creating a better quality life for Singaporeans and opportunities for adults to have a fulfilling career, and enabling young Singaporeans to fulfil their potential.

Dr Tan said the government will pursue new strategies to achieve these goals, and the approach will be different as the environment has changed.

related:
Constructive politics crucial for Singapore: Tony Tan
Pathways upwards will remain open to all S'poreans: Tony Tan
President Tan's speech was all-encompassing, say MPs


Singapore Parliament reopens: Populist measures will weaken Singapore, says President Tony Tan

This Session of Parliament opens at an important moment in our history. Next year, we celebrate our Golden Jubilee. For 50 years since Independence, we have built our homes together, raised families, and helped one another as friends, neighbours and compatriots. Despite long odds, we have not only survived, but prospered. Every Singaporean can take pride in this as we celebrate as one people.

At 50, we are still a young nation, with great promise ahead. Just as our pioneers overcame formidable obstacles with grit and determination to build today's Singapore, we too must create our Singapore of tomorrow. Our work continues - to build a fair and just society, regardless of race, language or religion; to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation. These are the founding ideals in our Pledge, which we must always uphold.

In the second half of this Twelfth Parliament, my Government pledges to work with all Singa­poreans to address the concerns and aspirations of our people and build a better future:

related:

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Make social spending sustainable: President
Speaking at the re-opening of Parliament last night after a month-long mid-term break, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said Singapore must ensure that its social spending could be sustained, and that there was enough revenue to balance the budget - PHOTO: SPH

THE government is going to spend more over the next decade and beyond to strengthen social safety nets.

Speaking at the re-opening of Parliament last night after a month-long mid-term break, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said Singapore must ensure that its social spending could be sustained, and that there was enough revenue to balance the budget.

His half-hour address - delivered before Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew - outlined the government's agenda for the rest of its current term.

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CPF improvements on cards as Parliament reopens

The savings and annuity schemes under the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system will be improved to ensure Singaporeans, who are living longer, have enough for their financial needs in their golden years, President Tony Tan said yesterday as he reopened the 12th Parliament after its mid-term break.

Setting out the broad strokes of what the Government intends to do in the second half of its term, Dr Tan said apart from enhancing the CPF LIFE and savings schemes, more options will also be developed for Singaporeans to unlock the value of their homes in retirement.

The CPF LIFE annuity scheme was introduced in 2009 and simplified last year. It offers plans to older Singaporeans, depending on their preference for higher monthly payouts or higher bequests to family members.

related: Govt pledges improvements for CPF, retirement needs: President Tan

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Questions on the President’s Address

Last Friday, as customary, Tony Tan delivered the President’s Address at the reopening of Parliament. It laid out the government’s broad policy directions for the second half of its term.

Politicians, also as customary, reacted positively to the President’s Address. In particular, they applauded the President’s call to do more for the older generation, for more options to unlock the value of homes and for improvements to the CPF savings scheme.

In essence, the speech covered areas and priorities that the government has already decided to focus on and which it outlined for the President to read.


12 things President Tony Tan said to re-open parliament that sounded like they were recycled from past statements

On the evening of May 16, 2014, President Tony Tan gave his customary address while looking stern-faced to open the second half of the 12th Parliament’s term after a month-long break.

Members-of-parliament, who were gathered for the opening address as they anticipate a new round of carrying out a function of the democratic process — albeit a lot of passive disagreeing and voting along party lines — sat through the president’s remarks looking stern-faced as well.

As the president’s speech was made, the public on more than a few occasions, experienced a sense of deja vu, like somehow, somewhere, they’ve all heard these things said some time before in the past.

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The President’s Address in layman lingo

We are going to be 50 years old next year, when we will have a big party or tua seh git as the Chinese call it. We’re not old, not if you measure in terms of a country’s life-span. We’re still young. But if we want to grow old gracefully, we should all remember what we said during our school days when we recite the Pledge. Yes, even you, you 65-year old! Remember how we want to build a fair and just society, regardless of race, language or religion; to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation?

That’s what my G wants to do, from now until the next election. Here’s where I am supposed to recite all the motherhood statements and usual platitudes about better quality of life, improved conditions, fulfilling potential and more opportunities for all. You’ve heard them before. If you still want to read, go google my speech.

First things first. Education. We know all the fuss about this. We said many times that we will go beyond academic success when we measure the worth of our students. So let me say this again: We will continue to improve the system, so that no single point in our education will wholly determine our future.

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Don't over promise: President's Speech to Parliament

Many social political bloggers out there must be commenting on this. To me it is just a reminder that our government although still good is steadily on the path to becoming like any good but ordinary government. If you believe we do not need extraordinary government to keep this place going, good luck to you. If you think otherwise, this is worrying.

Six bullets which the President went on to elaborate on each.

Leaders elsewhere can make speeches like this or even better, e.g, President Obama. However he gets away with not achieving many things he wants to because his political system just prevents him. In our case, the government is unfettered and could do a lot.

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Classical and New Faultlines in Society: A reflection on the President's speech

Singapore has always been a multi-racial and multi-religious society. Its unique heritage as a port of call for trade and history of British colonial rule have sealed its destiny as a place where foreign immigration and global influences are virtually inevitable.

Creating a united society that surmounts these differences and secures equality of opportunity for all has been the challenge of Singapore ever since Independence. In fact, it could even be argued that this is the raison d'être of its existence, having separated from Malaysia in 1965 in the wake of political tensions relating to race and religion.

Under the Independence of Singapore Agreement 1965, signed on 9 August, then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew declared:

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Dear President

“We should continue to have vigorous debates on the challenges facing our nation, and be prepared to take necessary and bold decisions for our future. It is important for us to do so, to have the best ideas and best leadership for Singapore.

Everyone should join in the debates, understand the issues, share their views and argue their positions. Sometimes these debates will stir great passions, but we cannot allow our differences to pull us apart. So while we may have differing views, all sides must take a long-term perspective for the common good.

And once the debate is settled, we must come together again, to move ahead as one united people.”

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LEARNINGS FROM THE REOPENING OF PARLIAMENT

President Tony Tan just delivered a speech for the reopening of the 2nd session of the 12th Parliament. One of the things he mentioned was the idea of “lifelong learning” which I think is something important to everyone.

However, President Tan seems to be saying that lifelong learning is needed and is important for all adults because jobs are changing faster. The idea of lifelong learning is now connected to upgrading of skills and know-how to allow individuals to be able to stay resilient and also be able to progress and to advance in our careers.

While what President Tan had said about lifelong learning is not wrong, I would like to think that lifelong learning is more than just something to advance our careers or for the purpose of career planning

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Response to Parliament Opening Address

Dr Tan said that every Singaporean can take pride in our survival and prosperity against long odds since independence. Dr Tan cannot be more wrong; Singapore had been thriving and prospering for more than a hundred years before our independence in 1965.

Dr Tan said that at 50, we are a young nation. But the Singapore today has continuously evolved since 1819 for nearly 200 years already. We should be celebrating our Bicentennial, not Silver Jubilee. While extolling the pioneers of 50 years ago for overcoming formidable obstacles to build Singapore, Dr Tan forgot to mention the pioneers’ pioneers who overcame even greater odds to lay the strong foundation underpinning our success today. If the honouring of our pioneers is confined to just the last 50 years, we risk being disrespectful to pioneers’ pioneers like Tan Kim Seng and Lim Bo Seng who came before.

Dr Tan urged us to always uphold the ‘founding ideals’ in our pledge written in 1966. But 1966 is 147 years after our founding in 1819. How can we be founded again 147 years after our founding in 1819? What ideal of a fair and just society was Dr Tan pledging to uphold when he allowed the PAP to disadvantage opposition wards in HDB upgrading while serving as Deputy Prime Minister?

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Tony Tan’s presidential address in Parliament

Tony Tan said many things in Parliament in his opening address and there will be many follow up comments on what he said. He wanted the govt to do many things. What he has laid out are the bones, a broad framework and the govt would need to flesh them out with the details. That is the frightening part and I already have seen one, flashed in the media like Santa Claus in coming to town six month early. All I can see is nothing good. I will write about it subsequently in another post.

What Tony said in brief is that the Govt has screwed up big time and need to reflect on the failed policies and to rework on them. And he has laid them out, the areas that the Govt must redeem itself, to address the ills it has created in recent years. Ouch, no one sees it this way, and all were thinking that everything was fine and Tony was just reading a brief written for him and means nothing.

Another thing Tony made it very clear is that it is all about Singaporeans. In his speech, he has never mentioned a single word, the most offensive word in today’s context, about ‘locals’. Tony has made it doubly and triply clear, that it is about Singaporeans and those jokers that have been sputtering the word ‘locals’ better take heed. I hope Tony really meant what he said and the Govt takes note of this and erase the word ‘locals’ from their vocabulary and reports.

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President Tony Tan Address in Parliament

The government vowed to make Singapore a better place and home, take care of the elderly, have more safety nets, put Singaporeans at ease over their healthcare costs, do more for Nsmen and the Pioneer Generation, improve public transport and generally do more to improve the lives of Singaporeans.

What’s new to Singaporeans? Nothing at all to be honest.

These are the things people have been grousing about in the social media all along. With the next General Election looming, PM Lee  wants to paint himself as a caring PM.

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The President's Speech

President Tony Tan Keng Yam opened the second session of the 12th Parliament on 16 May with an incredibly insipid and hollow speech full of motherhood statements which Singaporeans have already been hearing from the government for the past five years, some very much longer. As if to underline this fact, his speech is blandly entitled “Pledging Ourselves to a Better Singapore.”

To Singaporeans who have complained that they have received very poor value from a President whose salary is $1.54m a year, his speech would have done little to sway their view. At his wages—and the President’s annual staff budget of another $4.5m—he could well have afforded a better caliber speechwriter than the one Cabinet assigned to him.

President Tan meandered through his speech which at times seemed like he had prior knowledge of the upcoming pre-election crumbs the government intends to toss our way and at others like he was gazing into the future through a dysfunctional crystal ball capable only of showing the same thing each year. But mostly, his speech sounded like he is a PAP Minister once again as he repeated what has been said ad nauseam over the years. He refers to the Government as “my government” and liberally uses “we” and “us” in his speech to align himself to the Government's positions.


SPP asks pertinent questions on President’s Address

President Tony Tan addressed the Parliament at the opening of the 2nd Parliamentary Session on Friday (16 May).

In his address, President Tony Tan said that Singapore will continue to “build a fair and just society, regardless of race, language or religion; to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation”.

He said that in the second half of the current Parliament, the Government pledges to work with all Singaporeans to address the concerns and aspirations of Singaporeans and build a better future. He lay down 6 areas:


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SPP: Empathy in a competitive global environment

Last night, President Tony Tan delivered his address in opening the second session of the current Parliament. We agree with the President that empathy should be a core value of Singapore. But we face a tough uphill task in this. How do we help youths develop empathy in the face of tougher job competition internationally and in their homeland? This is in a context of a more protectionist world.

The President addressed the need for more opportunities for Singaporeans to realise their dreams and aspirations. Currently, many Singaporeans feel that they are priced out of their aspirations for cars, houses and higher education. Let’s tackle this one step at a time. Perhaps we can first think about better and fairer ways to allocate scarce resources such as car licenses.

The international environment has indeed changed. Global economic competition has transformed. No longer can we sustain our economic competitiveness through resource-heavy projects. How do we address the transformation of our economy? How can we measure the effectiveness of our economic tools? These are the SPP’s concerns. We are less concerned about GDP growth per se – we believe the quality of growth for Singapore is more important at this stage of our development.

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TONY TAN’S PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS IN PARLIAMENT

Tony Tan said many things in Parliament in his opening address and there will be many follow up comments on what he said. He wanted the govt to do many things. What he has laid out are the bones, a broad framework and the govt would need to flesh them out with the details. That is the frightening part and I already have seen one, flashed in the media like Santa Claus in coming to town six month early. All I can see is nothing good. I will write about it subsequently in another post.

What Tony said in brief is that the Govt has screwed up big time and need to reflect on the failed policies and to rework on them. And he has laid them out, the areas that the Govt must redeem itself, to address the ills it has created in recent years. Ouch, no one sees it this way, and all were thinking that everything was fine and Tony was just reading a brief written for him and means nothing.

Another thing Tony made it very clear is that it is all about Singaporeans. In his speech, he has never mentioned a single word, the most offensive word in today’s context, about ‘locals’. Tony has made it doubly and triply clear, that it is about Singaporeans and those jokers that have been sputtering the word ‘locals’ better take heed. I hope Tony really meant what he said and the Govt takes note of this and erase the word ‘locals’ from their vocabulary and reports.

read more

Tony Tan: Populist policies will weaken Singapore

During his presidential address marking the start of a new parliamentary session, Tony Tan said that Singapore should not implement populist measures as these will weaken Singapore.

He said that what Singapore needs now is to "maintain constructive politics". He elaborated that the government already puts the nation and the people first.

"In many countries, the hurly-burly of politics has resulted in short-term populist measures, and sometimes gridlock and paralysis," he said.

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President Tony Tan promises to build a better future for all Singaporeans


President Tony Tan Keng Yam has pledged to work with all Singaporeans to address their concerns and aspirations, and build a better future, in his speech at the re-opening of Parliament after its traditional mid-term break.


He also laid out six broad goals for the Singapore government: strengthening safety nets, enhancing retirement adequacy, supporting families and communities, creating a better quality life for Singaporeans and opportunities for adults to have a fulfilling career, and enabling young Singaporeans to fulfil their potential.

Dr Tan said the government will pursue new strategies to achieve these goals, and the approach will be different as the environment has changed. He said the government has heard from citizens who participated in the year-long "Our Singapore Conversation" sessions.

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Singapore Daily
– Bertha Harian: The President’s Address in layman lingo
– Blogging 4 Myself: Don’t over promise: President’s Speech to Parliament

read more

related: Parliament Mid-Term Break