Shift to social sector rights the balance: ESM Goh

Shift to social sector rights the balance: ESM Goh

The President's Address affirmed the Government's "dramatic shift" towards the social sector, said Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.

But he had a word of reassurance for citizens who were fearful that other bread-and-butter issues like economic growth, transport and living costs were being de-emphasised.

This was not the case. Rather, the social sector is playing catch-up as there is still much to be done.

Social issues, he added, will define Singapore's politics as the country approaches its 50th year of independence next year.

"I am heartened that the Government will focus more on people, on you and your family, as opposed to the constant drone on statistics of growth and physical development," wrote ESM Goh, who is also an MP for Marine Parade GRC.

For Singapore to be an endearing home, the yin and yang of development must be in harmony, he added.

"The cold, hard efficiency of development must be balanced by the warm, soft embrace of government. This is the yin-yang model of development which I believe is the right one to take us as individuals and as a country into the future," the former prime minister added.

Other politicians also chipped in yesterday with their thoughts on President Tony Tan Keng Yam's speech.

Delivered on Friday night at the reopening of Parliament, it laid out the Government's broad policy directions for the second half of its term.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who is also Leader of the House, said at a community event: "We understand economic survival, defence and security are very important.

"But we wanted to focus more on what it means to have a family here, what it means for each one of us to have a home. This is what Singaporeans will now have to ask themselves and we can work together to... build a better home for ourselves."

Dr Tan had in his speech called on citizens to pledge anew to build a better and brighter country, ahead of Singapore celebrating its Golden Jubilee next year.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, meanwhile, was struck by how Singapore's pioneers fought for the country's independence and toiled for its success. They were given special mention in the President's speech.

On Facebook, Mr Wong urged Singaporeans to be stewards of their forefathers' success and "pledge to leave behind a better Singapore than we inherited".

This article was published on May 18 in The Straits Times.

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