Steps Towards Progress - PM Speech

  • Posted by admin
  • 05 September 2013
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A few days back, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a solid, well-researched speech, mapping out key moves being made in the areas of infrastructure, healthcare, and education. With the country seeming unsure of its government’s ability to deliver, the speech was a much-needed injection of reassurance. Notably, he made several responses to some of the recommendations that were made by about 47,000 people during the year-long Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) initiative.

To be sure, the speech was by no means rah-rah in any way. It was a speech that answered the cry of the people, clearly indicating the measures that the government was taking to bring the nation forward – that the woes of the people were not falling on deaf ears.

For infrastructure, many big changes are in store. The Paya Lebar Air Base is to be moved to Changi, with the freed up space hence used for new homes, offices, and factories. In the eastern region of Singapore, the lifting of height restrictions also indicated that changes were in store there as well.

In particular, Changi Airport seems set to be Singapore’s greatest iconic landmark. With the unveiling of Project Jewel, an iconic building that will replace the open-air carpark at Terminal One, as well as the building of the fourth and fifth terminals, Changi Airport’s capacity is expected to be doubled. No doubt, in the words of Mr. Lee, that Singapore will be able to “stay (as) the hub in South-east Asia and create more opportunities for Singaporeans”.

Pairing nicely with the changes in infrastructure are the Prime Minister’s answers to the housing concerns brought up repeatedly over the years. In essence, he reassured Singaporeans that the government would guarantee two things: maintenance of the value of HDB flats, and and affordability for future buyers. For the latter, Mr. Lee stated that he would “make sure that every Singaporean family who is working can afford their home".

Two more hot-button issues, in the areas of healthcare and education, were also addressed. With regards to healthcare, MediShield would be renamed MediShield Life, and as the name suggests, it would literally cover Singaporeans for life, with no opt-out option. To be sure, Mr. Lee cautioned that the premiums would also be higher, but these would be subsidised for those who could not afford them.

Finally, on the education front, the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) scoring system will be changing in the coming years, such that results would be awarded in wider grade bands, rather than the current aggregate score. Also, to the relief of scores of parents around Singapore, every primary school would, from 2014, set aside 40 places (10-15% of total enrolment) for children who have no prior links to the school in any way.

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