Singapore president’s opening speech reflects what 4G leadership intends to do for their remaining term

Singapore president’s opening speech reflects what 4G leadership intends to do for their remaining term

In her opening address for the second session of the 14th Parliament on Monday (10 Apr), Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob emphasized the need for constructive dialogue and trust in government.

She also stressed the importance of addressing climate change and ensuring a broader and more open meritocracy that works well for all Singaporeans.

Speaking in her last address to the parliament for her six-year term, the President called for the government and people to work together to build a Singapore that thrives and endures for many years to come.

According to political analysts cited by Channel News Asia, Mdm Halimah’s speech for the opening of parliament aims to address the social divide by advocating for a more inclusive and open meritocracy that benefits all Singaporeans.

Dr Felix Tan, a political analyst from Nanyang Technological University (NTU), points out that while meritocracy has provided opportunities, societies tend to become more stratified and less socially mobile over time. As those who have already done well pass on their advantages to their children, those who fall between the cracks will need to be engaged through policies that can mitigate the social divide.

Gillian Koh, deputy director of research at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), adds that the speech could lead to more initiatives, such as the expansion of the KidSTART program, to facilitate a broader and meritocratic society. The program provides upstream support for pregnant mothers and young children in lower-income families, and is expected to support 80 percent of eligible children in lower-income families, starting from children born this year.

However, the analysts also caution that challenges remain in dealing with the social divide. Dr Koh notes that social stratification has been a decades-old fight, and Dr. Tan suggests that a more concrete policy outline could have been provided in the speech.

Dr Tan also highlights what Mdm Halimah’s speech could mean for the type of 4th Generation (4G) leadership Singapore needs.

He notes that previous administrations have focused on pragmatic and hard issues, but the government now faces a challenging task ahead in implementing the “softer” approach that Mdm Halimah’s speech calls for.

This approach will need to be more consultative and engage a lot more people from different sectors of society.

Singapore President cannot advance own policy agenda

Singapore operates under a Parliamentary system of government, with the Prime Minister as the Head of Government and the President as the Head of State.

The President is required to act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet, including in matters such as clemency for death row inmates.

The President’s role is custodial, meaning she has limited powers and cannot advance her own policy agenda. Instead, she has the power to veto or block government actions in specified areas.

Therefore, Mdm Halimah’s speech does not reflect her personal policy agenda, as she is not allowed to have one in her role. It is worth noting that the points made in her speech have already been raised by respective ministers during the committee of supply debate for Budget 2023.

While political analysts suggest that Mdm Halimah’s speech has implications for the 4G leadership, a more accurate interpretation is that her speech reflects their intentions for the remaining term in the 14th parliament.

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments