[“Do not just support popular measures, like increasing social spending or building more HDB flats, or ask the government to deliver more. Anybody can do that! Also, acknowledge that these measures cost money and explain how their proposals will be funded. Speak up for necessary but unpopular measures, like immigration.”]

Source:
Channel News Asia
By Imelda Saad | Posted: 20 October “2011 1707” hrs
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1160650/1/.html#.TqBKAQSU2Bc.facebook

—————————————————————————

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong 

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has sketched out his government’s priorities for the new term of Parliament.

Among them are: maintaining social mobility, strengthening safety nets and putting in place constructive politics that puts Singapore first.

This comes after an inter-ministry review of the country’s social policies.

The review was headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and involved agencies like the Manpower, Education, National Development and Health Ministries. It started soon after the General Election in May.

In a speech which lasted more than an hour, Mr Lee laid down the challenges facing Singapore, among them hyper-competition fuelled by the reach of the Internet and which threatens entire industries and jobs.

Mr Lee said: “It’s a different kind of world! We would like to keep the competition away, let us not have so many foreigners here because they compete with us, let’s give ourselves a bit more pay because the cost of living is high, we want to improve our lives, but we cannot wish away the competition just by doing that.”

Still, Mr Lee is confident of achieving the vision of a better life for all Singaporeans as laid out by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the opening of the 12th Parliament.

For one, Mr Lee said, the government will strive to maintain social mobility, with emphasis on education and training.

Social safety nets will also be strengthened, for example, by enhancing Workfare and ComCare and emphasising on best sourcing to ensure low-income workers can earn a decent living.

There was also a pledge to enable Singaporeans to age with dignity and grace, for example, by containing and sharing healthcare costs as well as building up care services.

For this, spending by the State will grow and the government is prepared for this.

One thing that sets Singapore apart, Mr Lee said, is that the country can make its entire system work well together.

He calls it the “special Singapore ingredient” which Singapore must never lose and that, Mr Lee said, depends very much on getting the country’s politics right.

Against a new normal, which sees a more educated population desiring more alternative voices, Mr Lee said a capable, effective government is still critical for Singapore.

But the prime minister acknowledged that politics has evolved. Hence, the promise to be more open with the electorate, engage citizens, more space for civic society and communicate better as well as strengthening “digital judgement” while connecting with citizens online.

Mr Lee said: “The government, at the end of all this in a new normal, in a new environment, still has a duty to run Singapore.

“Having heard all views, it has to decide: what are we to do? This is the way we go, it’s what we were elected for, it’s what the electorate expects of us – to produce results, to present our record to voters at the next election for them to judge, whether they are satisfied or not satisfied.”

And in a House that sees the most number of opposition Members since 1966, Mr Lee urged his opponents to put up serious alternatives and not just support popular measures.

He said: “Do not just support popular measures, like increasing social spending or building more HDB flats, or ask the government to deliver more. Anybody can do that! Also, acknowledge that these measures cost money and explain how their proposals will be funded. Speak up for necessary but unpopular measures, like immigration.”

“Being principled does not mean not being afraid to offend the government, because the government is not the Emperor and doesn’t chop heads off!” added Mr Lee.

“Being principled means not being afraid to tell unpalatable truths to Singaporeans. If you have conviction, if you believe in it and passion, then persuade people to follow you. Don’t lead from the rear.”

Mr Lee said that message applies to the ruling People’s Action Party MPs, too.

– CNA/ir

Advertisements