President: S'pore must be home that endears

President: S'pore must be home that endears
President Tony Tan Keng Yam gives his address at the opening of the second session of the Twelfth Parliament at the Parliament House on May 16, 2014.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam set out the Government's proposed directions, as Parliament re-opened yesterday after a mid-term break.

Calling on every Singaporean to pitch in, he said: "Singapore cannot be just a marketplace in the global economy... Singapore must be a home that endears, with an active citizenry dedicated to creating our shared future."

Dr Tan outlined what the Government has done in recent years:

- Sped up housing and public transport programmes to address urgent needs.

- Implemented parenthood and immigration policies to ensure a sustainable population, with Singaporeans forming the heart of the nation.

- Slowed the inflow of foreign workers while maintaining a vibrant economy to create opportunities and jobs for Singaporeans.

- Introduced the Wage Credit Scheme and the Progressive Wage Model to help raise wages.

But some things will remain in focus:

- Strong defence and policing to ensure safety and security.

- Safeguarding Singapore's interests abroad through effective diplomacy, co-operating with other countries and earning respect around the world.

In the future, Singaporeans can expect:

More opportunities, especially through education

There will be more investment in pre-school education, so those born with less have every chance to achieve their full potential.

Diverse options will be created to meet students' different abilities and development pace.

More university places and degree programmes with practical applications will also be offered.

Affordable housing for all

There will be help for low- and middle-income households to own their HDB homes and build up a retirement nest egg, and new options to encourage extended families to live closer together.

Affordable health care

Examples include enhancing the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) in which Singaporeans receive subsidies at participating general practitioners (GP) and dental clinics, expanding Medisave use and increasing subsidies for outpatient care.

Affordable MediShield Life premiums are also in the works.

Help for the vulnerable and elderly

The Government will be looking into strengthening social safety nets beyond home ownership and Workfare, and improving existing CPF savings and CPF Life annuity schemes.

This article was published on May 17 in The New Paper.

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