1st sitting of the 14th Parliament (24 Aug 2020)

President Halimah Yacob delivered her opening address for Singapore’s 14th Parliament. It charts the direction and aims for the current term of government. In a historic first, Parliament’s opening was held in two locations — Parliament House and The Arts House — due to COVID-19 safe distancing.

This sitting also saw the nomination of Tan Chuan-Jin (PAP) as the Speaker of Parliament, Indranee Rajah (PAP) as the Leader of the House, and Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad (PAP) as the Deputy Leader of the House.

The next sitting of Parliament will be on 31 August 2020 at 12 noon.

The President’s Address

  • Global challenges include COVID-19, a renewed US and China rivalry, disrupted supply chains, and the return of protectionism.
  • Locally, Singapore’s new voters want stronger checks and balances on the next generation of leaders.
  • How Singapore should or will react to these challenges:
    • Reach a consensus on the economic and social changes necessary. 
    • Aid low-income and mature workers.
    • Ensure competitiveness through structural economic changes.
    • Keep Singapore a vibrant hub and attractive place for trade, talent, and ideas.
    • Food, healthcare, and supply chain management could become new sources of growth.
    • Growth must be sustainable. Look to a low-carbon future and green financing and infrastructure development.
    • Share the benefits of progress with all citizens.

Responses from the ministries

The ministries have released their addendums to the President’s Address, reflecting the broad goals of these ministries for the current term of government. Click on the ministry’s name to view their full statements.

💻 Ministry of Communications and Information
  • Increase job creation in tech and related fields.
  • Increase digitalisation efforts for small and medium enterprises.
  • Establish digital trade rules and digital economy collaborations via Digital Economy Agreements with other countries.
  • Build a resilient and secure 5G network.
  • Ensure affordable digital access for all Singaporeans and equip Singaporeans with digital skills and literacy.
  • Strengthen the cybersecurity of essential services by including a focus on operational technology.
  • Enhance government communications by using analytics to tailor content for Singaporeans and explore ways to disseminate information in vernacular languages.
🎨 Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
  • Our Singapore Fund topped up with an additional SGD 20m and extended to SG60.
  • Raise digital capabilities of the local non-profit sector.
  • Raise the digital capabilities of SMEs in the arts, heritage, and sports sectors by leveraging the SMEs Go Digital Programme.
  • Partner Youth Sector Organisations to provide life skills training for youths in areas like leadership and financial planning, and to co-create mental well-being resources.
  • Equip youths with the skills and knowledge to capitalise on opportunities in Asia through the Asia-Ready Exposure Programme.
🔫 Ministry of Defence
  • Continue being operationally ready and pushing for regular local and international military exercises.
  • Continue supporting efforts against COVID-19.
  • Support “prudent” defence spending due to COVID-19.
  • Restructure and adapt organisational structures to account for smaller enlistee batches.
  • Work on a revamped end-to-end National Service Journey.
  • Continue developing multilateral frameworks, including relationships with the U.S.
📚 Ministry of Education
  • Streaming phased out and Full Subject-Based Banding implemented across secondary schools by 2024.
  • Wider scoring bands for PSLE from 2021.
  • ITE graduates will have a range of opportunities beyond NITEC by 2030.
  • Enhance SkillsFuture Work-Study Programmes by 2025 for increased learning opportunities in the workplace and classroom.
  • All secondary students to receive personal digital learning devices by end-2021 as part of the National Digital Literacy Programme.
  • Greater support for students with special needs.
  • Deepen school community partnerships for vulnerable students.
💰 Ministry of Finance
  • Raise GST after 2021 to fund growing healthcare and social spending and borrow to finance future infrastructure investments.
  • Enhance Workfare, Silver Support, and education and healthcare subsidies.
  • Double annual spending on pre-school education within the next few years.
  • Improve transport connectivity via rail lines and active mobility infrastructure.
  • Accelerate innovation and digitalisation across industries, grow base of innovative enterprises, and invest in new growth areas like biomedical sciences, climate change, and artificial intelligence.
  • Forge stronger connections to innovation nodes and key markets via trade facilitation, trade and innovation platforms, and continuing major investments in ports and airports.
🌏 Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Continue to work with the international community to cope with travel and movement restrictions and to assist those Singaporeans affected.
  • Strengthen relations with immediate neighbours, including restoring cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Enhance ASEAN’s global reach and find new areas of cooperation by working closely with other ASEAN members.
  • Develop vaccine multilateralism that affects adequate access to COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Continue to engage with international organisations and multilateral forums in advocating for trade and investment liberalisation, a free, open, and rules-based system, preserving supply chains, and the flow of essential goods.
  • Enhance relations with the Middle East, Central Asia, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa and utilise the Singapore Cooperation Programme to support developing countries in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
💊 Ministry of Health
  • Continue safe distancing measures, maintaining resources against COVID-19, and working with international partners to develop a vaccine.
  • Improve the lifestyles and diets of Singaporeans.
  • New hospital in the east and several new polyclinics across Singapore by 2030.
  • Increase support for eldercare.
  • Launch CareShield Life and MediSave Care in October.
  • Continue digitalisation of healthcare by supporting telehealth and remote working.
  • New leadership development programmes and scholarships while also reviewing salaries for competitiveness.
🚔 Ministry of Home Affairs
  • Set up a Safe Travel Office to enable smooth overseas travel.
  • Develop new technologies to monitor key facilities and detect crowding/unsafe social distancing.
  • Develop an Ops-Tech career path for officers with technological skills.
  • Expand the use of robots and unmanned vehicles for civil defence operations.
  • Use automation and analytics to enhance prison safety and security.
  • Deepen community participation in countering the threat of terrorist propaganda.
  • Amend gambling legislation and create a new Gambling Regulatory Authority.
  • Coordinate anti-fraud efforts across government.
⚖️ Ministry of Law
  • Establish simpler, faster, and cheaper ways for smaller companies to exit or restructure their businesses.
  • Work with the legal fraternity, social service agencies, and family service centres to provide civil and criminal legal aid to Singaporeans with limited means.
  • Streamline common legal processes such as making a will.
  • Develop capabilities in high-growth legal fields and develop joint programmes with other professions.
  • Accelerate the adoption of tech to deliver legal services while ensuring lack of access to technology does not hamper access to the law.
  • Expand the SG Patent Fast Track to include trademarks and registered designs.
  • Launch a 3D Singapore Sandbox to test innovative 3D geospatial tools.
  • Operationalise a Protection from Harassment Court as a one-stop solution for harassment victims.
  • Reform the Family Justice System, including using multi-disciplinary approaches to resolve issues outside of court.
  • Streamline the civil justice system while maintaining affordability and accessibility.
🦺 Ministry of Manpower
  • Provide subsidised training and incentives for jobseekers that want to learn new skills and support employers that host these jobseekers.
  • Increase accessibility to job searching resources.
  • Raise the salary criteria for Employment and S Passes.
  • Ensure employers uphold the Fair Consideration Framework and execute retrenchment exercises fairly.
  • Expand the Progressive Wage Model to more sectors and perform regular reviews of Workfare and Silver Support.
  • Support the self-employed with mechanisms to reduce payment disputes, loss of income due to illness, and correct unbalanced relationships with service-buyers.
  • Support and recognise employers that offer flexible work arrangements.
  • Build a strong medical support system for migrant workers and meet their social needs by partnering with community groups.
  • Consider the cost-sharing model for higher dormitory standards and develop an insurance programme for employers to manage migrant worker medical costs.
🏢 Ministry of National Development
  • Help construction to restart safely and smoothly as quickly as possible.
  • Improve the built environment sector’s productivity through technology and digitalisation. Also, work to professionalise the sector and grow its overseas opportunities.
  • Assist homeowners in the short term through flexible mortgage payments and in the long term by minimising BTO completion delays and keeping the housing market stable.
  • Review schemes that allow the retirees to tap on their flat’s value. Also, launch assisted living flats for seniors with care needs.
  • Review the housing plans for multi-generational families, singles, and single parents.
  • Employ participation and joint creation with residents in the design of the built environment and community spaces.
  • Dedicate more nature parks and nature reserves and conserve more flora and fauna.
  • Adopt the best energy performance solutions for buildings and green 80% of buildings by 2030.
  • Deploy the HDB Green Towns Programme, which includes rooftop solar panels, for a 15% reduction in HDB town energy consumption by 2030.
🪑 Prime Minister’s Office
  • Differently organise the Public Service Division to build stronger common competencies across public services that are required by all agencies.
  • Work closely with citizens, businesses, and other stakeholders to understand their needs and ideas.
  • Develop the public service by recruiting candidates from diverse backgrounds with different skill sets and perspectives to problems. Also, invest more in skills upgrading to enable public officers to remain employable over a longer career.
🤝 Ministry of Social and Family Development
  • Implement the Enabling Masterplan 3 and develop plans for the next phase beyond 2021. 
  • Improve the employment and employability of persons with disabilities.
  • Lower fee caps to enhance preschool affordability as government supported preschool places increase.
  • Strengthen support for children from low-income families by expanding KidSTART to more regions.
  • Better support youth-at-risk, offenders, and their families.
  • Support couples and families with marriage and parenthood by providing family friendly practices.
  • Support social service agencies (SSA) with capability and capacity for the immediate and longer term.
  • Develop a Sector Digitalisation Roadmap to help build SSA’s capabilities in innovation, digitalisation, and data usage to improve social services delivery.
🍃 Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment
  • Pursue a circular economy and work towards zero-waste.
  • Launch the “30×30 Express” grant to support agri-food players in accelerating local food production over the next 6 to 24 months.
  • Encourage sea-based farming in the southern waters and bring food production closer to communities.
  • Explore how the COVID-19 detection via wastewater programme can be scaled and applied to other diseases.
  • Develop the Tuas Nexus waste management facility to maximise energy and resource recovery.
  • PUB to generate sufficient solar energy to power all of its local waterworks by 2021. 
  • Set up a Climate Science Research Programme Office by end-2020 to formulate a national climate science research masterplan.
🏭 Ministry of Trade and Industry
  • Resume business with tight safe management measures and expanded contact tracing.
  • Resume international travel through safe business travel.
  • Support sectors with growth opportunities in investing and expanding.
  • Preserve core capabilities in currently low demand sectors that will eventually recover.
  • Support moves to new markets and products.
  • Increase resilience against supply chain disruptions.
  • Reaffirm commitments with international partners to keep trade routes open.
  • Enact Digital Economy Agreements to facilitate international trade in the digital economy.
  • Develop multi-modal transport for new competitive advantages in trade and logistics.
  • Help SMEs strengthen capabilities by working with the community and partners.
  • Strengthen support for startups through Startup SG and the Global Innovation Alliance.
  • Promote internationalisation through programmes like Scale-up SG.
  • Invest in research and innovation.
  • Strengthen a pro-enterprise business environment.
  • Provide sector-specific support through Industry Transformation Maps.
🚊 Ministry of Transport
  • Aim for a 45-Minute City and 20-Minute Towns by 2040.
  • Improve public transport by bringing MRT trackage to 360 km in the coming years.
  • Expand alternative mobility by repurposing road lanes into bus/cycle lanes, pedestrianising roads, and achieving 1,300 km of cycling paths by 2030.
  • Upgrade Changi Airport to a three-runway system and review the Terminal 5 project.
  • Achieve sustainable transport by phasing out private vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2040, purchasing only cleaner energy buses, and promoting electric vehicles.
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