PM Lee New Year Message Declares The “Best Days” of Singapore Will Be In 2018
What’s New Year without a speech from our one and only Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong?
Just as 2018 preps itself to take flight, our dear PM also took time to prep us on what’s ahead in a speech released on New Year’s Eve (31 Dec).
As the official transcript is pretty long, here are 5 key points summarised for you:
1. Singapore to chair ASEAN in 2018
The Lion City will be receiving the baton from the Philippines as Chairperson of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), aiming to “build on the strong foundations” already put in place by the outgoing leader.
During the 31st ASEAN summit held in Manila, PM Lee mentions that through the use of innovation as a source, Singapore hopes to “press on” with economic integration and enhance regional connectivity as one its primary goals.
Singapore also plans to strengthen bonds with other ASEAN partners such as – but not limited to – Australia, India and China.
Examples of such commemorations of alliances include the carrying out of ASEAN-China Strategic Partnerships and celebrating 45 years of ASEAN-Japan relations.
Seems fitting that Singapore, one of the organisation’s founding members, will be taking leadership of ASEAN beyond the union’s 50th year.
However, while Singapore may have a major regional role in 2018, PM Lee also emphasised that the development of Singapore itself is not neglected.
2. A full “domestic agenda” on areas that the government will improve on
Although PM Lee did not go into the details, he did touch on the areas the government would focus on in Singapore.
Bolstering lifelong learning efforts
The Future Economy Council is working closely with unions and businesses to implement Industry Transformation Maps, inculcate lifelong learning in our workforce through SkillsFuture, and help affected workers to adapt and grow in new jobs and careers.
For one, the need for a “Future Economy Council” and the implementation of “Industry Transformation Maps” suggest that economic restructuring will be a major focus in 2018.
Singaporeans best make use of their SkillsFuture credit soon.
Enhancing early childhood education
Lifelong learning – as the term suggests – can begin any time, so why not start young?
We are building more preschools to give children a strong start in life.
With more preschools coming our way, parents can expect to avoid that annual “kiasu” race to get their children a spot in school.
Further upgrading of healthcare services
Taking a look at the policies mentioned so far, we have SkillsFuture for the adults and more preschools for kids, leaving our much loved elders.
Not to fret however, 2018 will also see expansion and reviewing of healthcare services specifically to cater by Singapore’s growing ageing population:
To prepare for an aging population, we are expanding healthcare facilities and reviewing healthcare policies.
Let’s just hope that whatever future plans the government have in store, it would be better received that their latest initiative — a mandatory central depository of every Singaporean’s medical history.
Nevertheless, there are even more pressing issues at hand: everybody’s favourite MRT.
3. Improving transport infrastructures
Fixing the problematic MRT
According to a list of breakdowns, the MRT had 12 breakdowns and delays in November 2017 alone. That’s almost half of the entire month.
We could have taken a screenshot of the list, but that alone will take up more space than this whole article.
Clearly, the MRT needs a serious fix and even our PM can’t avoid mentioning about the topic:
For infrastructure, we are improving rail reliability and growing our MRT network.
Sadly, even though we just ushered in 2018, the trains still gave problems on the first working day of the year anyway. We had hoped that SMRT would also be saying “new year new me”, but clearly our optimism was misplaced.
When you try to start the new year right but MRT.
Further transport development projects
Our transport endeavours will not be stopping at the MRT alone though.
The Prime Minister declared that 2018 will see other transport developments take shape. Examples of such include the Tuas Megaport, High Speed Rail link between Singapore and KL, and Changi Airport’s Terminal 5.
After all, at 4 terminals ain’t enough.
4. Paying tribute to Sir Stamford Raffles
We had SG50. Now, PM Lee suggests plans to commemorate another Singaporean milestone — Raffles200 perhaps?
Certainly, we all recognise the familiar crossed-armed Raffles statue. The landmark is intended to remind us of the significance of Raffles’ arrival into our sunny island:
Sir Stamford Raffles’ landing in 1819 was a key turning point. Raffles set Singapore on a different trajectory, which brought us to where we are today.
Since PM Lee attended numerous anniversaries in 2017, he felt it would deem fit to pay tribute to prepare for the 200th anniversary of the Raffles Landing.
But because of Raffles, Singapore became a British colony, a free port, and a modern city.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) declined to reveal the budget for the tribute when queried by the Straits Times, adding that it would cost less than SG50’s celebrations.
Dang it, there goes our Raffles Statue Lego Set.
5. Transitioning of leadership to the “fourth generation”
While we recognise our leaders of the past, 2018 is also the year for the “fourth generation” of our nation’s leaders to take place.
The responsibilities of these future leaders will be laid out by President Halimah Yacob when parliament sessions reopen in May.
This will bear the imprint of the fourth-generation leadership, who are taking on greater responsibilities, and putting forth their ideas for Singapore.
One thing’s for sure: Singaporeans can expect to see the transition of leadership begin in 2018.
With Prime Minister Lee set to step down in 2021, the most appropriate time for potential candidates to ready themselves is now.
Even Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said so.
Looking forward to 2018
All in all, much is planned for 2018 and the changes set in place will be under the watchful eyes of the Singaporean population.
Are “the best days” of Singapore truly ahead of us? We can only wait and see if it truly is.
Feature image from Facebook.