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2008年国庆群众大会(英文网站版)

NDR 2008

Celebrating the Singapore Story

1. Our Economy
2. Our Society
3. Our People
4. Our Future
5. Conclusion

Our Economy

1. Start by talking about the economy

    a. Have not done so in detail in the last few years

    b. Economy was doing well, so focused on social issues, e.g. income gap and ageing population

    c. But timely to discuss the economy now

Global Problems

2. Last few years, when conditions were good, we did the right thing planning well ahead

    a. Restructured and upgraded our economy

    b. Good pipeline of projects – F1 Grand Prix, IRs, banking, major investments brought in by EDB

    c. Will sustain our momentum and keep our economy growing

    d. But dark clouds have gathered in our external environment

3. US faces serious problems

    a. House prices have crashed and are still falling

    b. Unemployment rising

    c. Consumers are losing confidence and spending less

    d. Affecting the rest of the world

        i. Europe already slowing down sharply

        ii. Must expect impact on Asia too

    e. These global economic problems will continue at least into next year

        i. Some experts think even longer

4. Singa­pore is starting to feel the impact

    a. Growth has slowed in 2Q

    b. Manufacturing sector is affected

    c. Exports are weak

    d. Tourist arrivals are down – even Asian tourists are travelling less

    e. Retail stores and restaurants say business is slow

5. This year will see 4-5% growth – not bad

6. Next year expect slow growth, and more uncertainties

    a. Not predicting a crisis

    b. We are competitive and investors still want to be here

    c. But we must be vigilant and psychologically prepared for trouble

    d. When the global economy recovers, we will bounce back up

Inflation

7. Hottest issue for Singaporeans is the rising cost of living

    a. Inflation is a worldwide problem

        i. Price of oil (Slide 1)

            (1) 8 years ago – US$20 per barrel

            (2) Today – around US$110 per barrel

        ii. Price of rice (Slide 2)

            (1) 8 years ago – US$200 per ton

            (2) Today – around US$800 per ton

    b. People are agitated all over the world

        i. Demonstrating and rioting

            (1) In Europe

                (a) Truckers in France (Slide 3)

                (b) Farmers in Spain (Slide 4)

            (2) In Asia

                (a) Fuel protests in Indonesia (Slide 5)

                (b) Food protests in Pakistan (Slide 6)

                (c) Rice protests in Philippines, with long queues for subsidised rice (Slide 7)

        ii. In Singapore

            (1) Fortunately, we have plenty of rice (Slide 8)

            (2) No protests or demonstrations

            (3) But I know people are also unhappy about price increases

            (4) Many pictures on the internet. My favourite (Slide 9)

    c. Completely understand how Singa­poreans feel

        i. But we should react rationally

        ii. Understand why it is happening to us, and what we can do about it

8. We cannot prevent prices from rising in Singapore

    a. We import most of our food, except a few eggs and some fish

    b. We import all our fuel, and produce all our electricity from imported oil and natural gas

    c. When world prices go up, how do we keep our rice, petrol, or electricity prices down?

    d. In terms of dollars, wages have not gone down

        i. Most workers are earning more dollars this year

        ii. Last year was a good year; wages and bonuses went up

        iii. But when we spend money, we find that each dollar has shrunk

        iv. With inflation, some of your wage increase went to you, but quite a lot went to the oil producers

    e. Simply put, oil producers (e.g. Arabs and Russians) are now richer, therefore oil consumers (i.e. us) are now poorer

9. Singaporeans wish the Government would do something to keep prices from rising, e.g. just control prices, and not let them go up

    a. But subsidies cost huge sums of money

    b. Even oil and gas producers find them hard to sustain

    c. Many countries have had to cut their oil subsidies recently, e.g. Indonesia, Malaysia, China and India

10. We have not fixed electricity price; instead, we have given U-Save

    a. i.e. top up your SingPower account with cash

    b. Help you directly

    c. Lower-income households get more – this year’s U-Save is equal to 3-6 months of their utility bills

    d. If you can cut down and use less electricity (or gas or water), then the U-Save money will offset your bills for an even longer time

11. This year we have done more to help Singa­poreans

    a. Had foreseen the spike in inflation last year

    b. Hence made significant distribution in the Budget

        i. For all Singaporeans, but targeted at the middle-income and especially the needy

        ii. Growth Dividends, Medisave Top-ups and other relief measures

    c. Besides the Budget, many other measures to help needy

        i. For low-income workers

            (1) Workfare to top-up their income and savings

            (2) Special one-off payment in this year’s NWC

        ii. For the destitute

            (1) Higher Public Assistance rates

            (2) ComCare and Medifund (+ Medifund Silver)

        iii. For retirees

            (1) Extra 1% interest on first $60,000 of CPF balances since 1 Jan (announced in last NDR)

            (2) Will help preserve the value of your savings for old age

    d. Overall, $3 bn of help from Govern­ment this year

Middle-Income Singaporeans

12. Middle-income Singa­poreans feel pressured too

    a. Have not forgotten them

    b. Growth Dividends etc. extended to them

    c. Helped with education costs, e.g. extended university and poly bursaries and topped up post-secondary education accounts

    d. Overall strategy to help middle-income – keep taxes low, to minimise your burden

    e. Personal income tax

        i. Already lower than most other countries, including Hong Kong except for the highest income group

        ii. This year generous personal income tax rebate – 20%, specifically aimed at the middle-income groups, total $380 mn

    f. Car-related taxes

        i. Used to be a significant burden, because of high car ownership taxes

        ii. Discussed this at the Economic Review Committee

        iii. Decided on a major policy shift

            (1) Reduce ownership charges and taxes, e.g. ARF, excise duties, road tax, and release more COEs

            (2) Enable more people to afford cars

            (3) Increase ERP to control congestion

        iv. Compare 2000 with 2008 (Slide 10)

            (1) Overall, vehicle-related revenues halved – from $6.1 bn in FY2000 to $3.4 bn this FY (2008)

            (2) Reduced ownership charges by a huge amount

            (3) Doubled ERP, but still very small by comparison

        v. Hence more households now own cars (Slide 11)

            (1) Overall figures – number of car owning households increased by 1/3, from 320,000 in 2000 to 430,000 this year

            (2) For individuals – big difference when you buy a car

            (3) Actual example of a 1.6L Toyota Corolla (Slide 12)

                (a) In 2000, paid $110,000 (all in + ownership charges)

                (b) Today, pay much less – $64,000

                (c) Even though OMV is about the same (2000 - $19,000, 2008 - $17,000)

        vi. Result – more cars around us

            (1) Can see it in more crowded HDB car parks

            (2) And on the roads

13. Hence need for recent increase in ERP charges

    a. Many people are upset

        i. But have to see the bigger picture

        ii. In fact, they are (unconsciously) benefitting from the overall policy to reduce car taxes, and lighten burden on them

    b. Considered carefully how to adjust ERP without increasing burden

        i. Worked out a package

        ii. Raised ERP but also reduced Road Tax at the same time

        iii. Overall cost has actually come down

        iv. Example of a 1.6L car again

            (1) Will pay more ERP per year

            (2) But more than offset by 15% reduction in Road Tax

            (3) On average drivers enjoy net savings

                (a) ERP – pay $76 more

                (b) Road Tax – pay $130 less

                (c) Savings – $54 every year

    c. People may not realise or remember

        i. How much Road Tax they are paying, or paid last year

        ii. Sometimes another family member pays the tax

            (1) I asked one driver if she had received her Road Tax reduction

            (2) She said she had to check with her husband!

            (3) So she does not connect the ERP charges with the road tax reduction. Her IU beeps when she goes through the ERP gantry, but there is no beep when her husband receives the road tax benefit

    d. We will do more to draw the connections, and explain how the middle-income have actually benefited from government policies

14. Also improving public transport as alternative to cars

    a. Building more rail lines

    b. Running some 800 more train trips per week – reducing waiting time and overcrowding during peak hours

    c. Improving bus services

    d. Making transfers more convenient, and increasing transfer rebates

    e. Cannot have every household owning a car, but will have a first class public transport system for everyone

HDB Rental Flats

15. Besides cars and public transport, we must also pay attention to wider needs of the public

    a. Can get a good sense of their problems from mix of MPS cases

    b. Not many job seekers, compared to the last recession

    c. Some hardship cases – we have many schemes to help them

    d. One worrying trend – more are looking for HDB rental flats

        i. Applications have tripled in a year

        ii. Rental appeals now form the bulk of their MPS cases

    e. HDB is building more rental flats

    f. But not all who apply for rental flats are truly in need

        i. e.g. one applicant (60-year-old lady) with 3 children, 2 of whom are living in private properties; her children told HDB they were prepared to hire a maid to look after their parent in the rental flat!

        ii. For them, rental flats are not the right solution

        iii. Instead they should look for other viable alternatives:

            (1) Rent out a room or even the whole flat

            (2) Lease buy-back scheme for 2R and 3R flats, which will be implemented soon; or

            (3) Move into smaller flats or studio apartments

    g. MND/HDB will review the rental flat scheme

        i. Keep rental flats an effective safety net for the minority of genuinely needy families, with no assets or family support

More Help

16. For the vast majority of Singa­poreans, we have provided comprehensive measures in the Budget

    a. Most people have forgotten how much they are getting

    b. 3R, low-income household (elderly couple with one child working) – $5,000 this year. Much more than their increase in cost of living

    c. 5R middle-income household (middle-aged working parents with two young children) – $3,400 (excluding personal income tax rebate)

    d. But inflation has turned out higher than expected, especially energy prices

    e. Looked at the budget position

17. Decided to do more

    a. Second instalment of Growth Dividends due on 1 Oct

    b. Will increase this by 50%

    c. Also increase this year’s U-Save rebates by 50%

    d. Together, 3R household (like the one mentioned earlier) will get $500 more, and 5R $210 more

    e. Overall an extra $250 million of help from the government

    f. Plus all the other provisions, will help Singa­poreans see through this period

18. But don’t think hongbaos will solve the problem

    a. Best solution is still to keep the economy competitive

    b. Become more productive, and so earn more for ourselves

    c. Then we can raise our standard of living, despite the increase in oil and food prices

Our Society

1. Well being of Singa­poreans depends not just on bread and butter issues, but also on our human and social environment

    a. How we behave and relate to one another

    b. How we can make Singapore a more gracious society

2. We have done many things over the years to improve ourselves

    a. Many campaigns and initiatives, e.g. queue up, no spitting, flush toilets, and most recently, service excellence (GEMS Movement or Go the Extra Mile for Singapore)

    b. Sometimes people laugh at us

        i. Actually, these are things we can work on and improve

        ii. If we make people aware of their behaviour and educate them to learn new habits

        iii. Gradually people will respond, and upgrade our social norms

    c. We have made progress

        i. It may be hard for us to tell

        ii. But those watching us from afar notice

        iii. Letter in ST Forum from a Sri Lankan lady

            (1) First visited Singapore in 1968 as a young student on her way to the US

            (2) Visited again 40 years later, needed a wheelchair at Changi airport

            (3) Quote her letter

            “From the moment I landed until I left, the city impressed me…Everywhere, I met only kindness….I was in a shopping centre and asked a young girl the way to the MRT station. She offered to show me the way, and taking my shopping bags, led me to the station….shopkeepers gave me water to drink, people waiting for a bus walked with me to the correct bus stop, and people helped me across the street. I have never experienced this sort of kindness anywhere else in the world”

3. We can do even better

    a. Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) conducts surveys of social behaviours that Singaporeans consider important

    b. Some things we are good at doing

        i. Sit properly in the cinema (i.e. don’t put your feet on the seat in front of you)

        ii. Say “thank you” after being served

    c. But also many things we need to improve

        i. Say “please” – not so common

        ii. Clear tables and return food trays – need to improve

            (1) Trying to inculcate this habit, e.g. at Suntec City

            (2) But will take time to change mindset – “I go to the foodcourts to eat, not to clear tables”

            (3) Quote email from a lady on making Singa­pore a more liveable place:

            “Actually we should feel quite embarrassed to leave our dirty plates and dirty table for the next diner. In my mum’s house, after eating, we will clear our plates and clean the table…this is a good habit we should adopt outside the home.

            “Oh yes, most importantly no fines, no fines. Dishing out fines hurt relationships and no good image for PAP government.”

    d. Recently, Mediacorp held a contest on the Morning Express Class 95 FM

        i. DJs Glenn Ong and the Flying Dutchman invited listeners to send in videos of the best and worst Singaporean habits

        ii. Tremendous response

        iii. Asked Mediacorp to compile some highlights, good and ugly

4. Best way to focus our efforts – when there is a major event and we are put to the test

    a. We have done well before

        i. IOC in 2005

        ii. IMF/WB Annual Meetings in 2006

    b. Now we must prepare for other major events

        i. F1 next month

        ii. APEC next year

        iii. YOG in 2010

    c. Let’s use these opportunities to improve our social graces

5. That is how other countries have done it

    a. Sydney Olympics, 2000 set a high benchmark

        i. The show was fantastic

        ii. But what really impressed visitors was the genuine warmth and sincerity of the Aussies

        iii. 47,000 volunteers cheered, drove buses, manned checkpoints, greeted visitors with a friendly “G’day mate”

        iv. Created a whole atmosphere of friendliness and hospitality

    b. China – now hosting the Olympics

        i. Making a special effort to welcome athletes and visitors

        ii. Launched large-scale civility campaigns to educate people

            (1) Designated special days in every month to remind them of their social etiquette and manners

            (2) Queuing day on the 11th (because 11 resembles two people lining up)

            (3) Seat-giving day on the 22nd (because 22 resembles two chairs side by side)

        iii. For the Games, mobilised 100,000 volunteers, mostly young men and women

        iv. They have impressed visitors too with their friendliness, enthusiasm and pride

6. We should mobilise ourselves too for the YOG

    a. This is the first time ever the Games are being held

    b. Let’s make a special effort to deliver an outstanding YOG

    c. Look at how we mobilised successfully to support the bid

        i. Singaporeans from all walks of life spontaneously organised themselves to participate in many activities – schools, youth groups, companies, taxi drivers, etc.

    ii. We impressed the IOC and so won the bid

    d. Let us rally together again – show what Singapore is about and welcome the world with our spirit and warmth

7. But we must not just stop at the YOG

    a. Work consistently and patiently over many years
   
    b. Strive for even higher standards and for a permanent improvement in our social behaviour

    c. Make Singapore a better place for all of us

Our People

1. We are creating a better Singapore for future generations to enjoy – so my next topic is babies

2. Long story captured in this chart (Slide 1) – shows our Total Fertility Rate, how many children each woman has on average over her lifetime

    a. Says a lot about our history, economy, culture and policies

    b. History

        i. Sharp fall in TFR in less than 20 years (1960-1975)

        ii. Reflects rapid transformation of our society, as education levels improved and living standards went up dramatically

        iii. Just to replace ourselves, we need TFR of 2.1 (Slide 2)

        iv. We are far below the replacement level

    c. Economy – look at the last 30 years (Slide 3)

        i. When times are hard, people tend to have fewer babies

        ii. 1985 recession, Asia Financial Crisis, 9/11 & SARS (Slide 4)

    d. Culture

        i. Can see some peaks – 1976, 1988, 2000 (Slide 5)

        ii. Why? Years of the dragon

        iii. Unfortunately each dragon has been smaller than the previous one

        iv. Next dragon in 2012 – probably a baby one

    e. Family policies (Slide 6)

        i. 1966 – ”Two is Enough” – too successful

        ii. 1987 – ”Three if you can afford it” – quite successful

        iii. 2001 – Baby Bonus – overwhelmed by economy

        iv. 2004 – my contribution, Marriage & Procreation package

            (1) Some effect but very small

            (2) Zoom in to see the change, from 1.26 to 1.29 (Slide 7)

            (3) But still way below where it is supposed to be

3. Question: what more should we do?

    a. First, encourage people to get married

    b. Second, encourage couples to have children

Marriage

4. First step is to find the right partner and get married

    a. I am not an expert – consulted those with experience, i.e. the matchmakers

    b. We have SDU, SdS, and many private dating agencies

    c. I talked to several of them

        i. We had a lively exchange and I learnt a lot

        ii. Great material for a TV studio discussion

5. Let me summarise the main learning points

    a. Many singles do want to get married

        i. They are serious, and not just out to have a good time

        ii. But they face difficulties

    b. Some have never dated

        i. Once they start work and settle into a routine, no opportunities to socialise and meet new people

        ii. Relate conversation one matchmaker had with his client

            Q: What do you usually do after work?

            A: Go to the gym

            Q: How about the weekends?

            A: Stay at home with family

            Q: Do you go out?

            A: Yes, bring nieces and nephews out to play

            Q: Have you met any new friends in the last week?

            A: [Dead silence]

            Q: How about the last 1 month?

            A: [Dead silence again]

    c. Some start too late

        i. Dating agencies say that women in the late 30s have a serious problem

            (1) Some men are in their late 30s too

            (2) But they are looking for younger women in their 20s

            (3) So the older women have difficulties pairing up

        ii. Confirmed by what one such lady told me at a dialogue

            (1) She had put her career first when she was younger

            (2) Later when she wanted to settle down she tried the dating agencies, but had no luck

            (3) She regrets her decision now, but still hopes to find someone

    d. Good news is that more people are prepared to seek help from dating agencies

        i. Women are more willing to do so

        ii. Men tend to be more sensitive about their egos

        iii. Most dating agencies have more women than men – 60:40

    e. Unfortunately sometimes their social graces are not up to scratch

        i. e.g. dating agency arranged for a guy to meet a date

        ii. Setting was a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant

        iii. But he showed up wearing slippers!

            (1) Asked why he did not dress up for the occasion

            (2) His reply – this is me, this is how I am

            (3) After some tactful grooming advice, he made progress and learnt to keep a pair of shoes in the car, and put them on before dates

            (4) The couple are now happily married

    f. Also need to have realistic expectations

        i. Have to make an effort for the relationship to work

        ii. Easy to get carried away by romantic images in the movies

            (1) Meet someone of your dreams, instantly fall madly in love, get married, live happily ever after

        iii. But we are ordinary people in real life

            (1) May not have instant sparks on the first date

            (2) But take time to discover the person for who he or she is, nurture the relationship, and love may blossom

6. We will do more to help singles get married

    a. SDU and SdS are working on this

        i. They now cater to different markets – graduates and non-graduates

        ii. We should be more flexible

        iii. Will merge SDU and SdS

        iv. Together they will have more critical mass, more activities, and hopefully more pairing up and marriages

    b. Some young people prefer to use private dating agencies

        i. But they want quality assurance, e.g. to know that it is a reputable dating agency

        ii. SDU will go into a new business

            (1) Certify private agencies that meet quality standards

            (2) “SDU Trust” mark to distinguish them (Slide 8)

7. Young people themselves should take the first step, and not leave it too late

    a. Make time to go out and meet new friends

    b. Join a dating agency, be it SDU/SdS or a private agency

    c. You may find someone you are attracted to

    d. Then you can marry the person you love, and love the person you marry

Parenthood

8. Once couples are married, we would like them to have children

    a. We used to think this would follow naturally

    b. But no longer always the case

        i. Couples are having fewer children or having them later

        ii. Some even prefer not to have any children at all

        iii. Why?

    c. We looked at other countries

        i. Happening all over East Asia

            (1) Confucian societies with similar cultural values

            (2) Undergoing rapid social and economic change

            (3) So some powerful social and cultural forces at work

        ii. Happening in Western societies too

            (1) Australia

                (a) Government is working hard to encourage couples to have more children

                (b) Slogan: “one for Dad, one for Mum, and one for the Country”

            (2) Europe

                (a) Many countries facing a dearth of babies

                (b) But something interesting in their experience

                (c) Southern Europe (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain)

                    (i) More macho culture

                    (ii) Women are more likely to stay at home

                    (iii) Fewer babies

                (d) Northern Europe (Netherlands, Scandinavia)

                    (i) Gender roles are more equal

                    (ii) Women are more likely to work

                    (iii) More babies

    d. What about Singapore?

        i. I discussed this with a group of Singa­pore women, married and single, young and not so young

        ii. They agree that gender roles and helping mothers to work are important

        iii. Gave me many ideas on how we can facilitate this

9. First, shared responsibilities for child raising

    a. Tradition that husbands go out to work and wives stay at home to look after the children

        i. Women do have a better touch with children

    b. But situation today is different

        i. If husbands leave everything to the wives, or women are forced to choose between work and family, the women will go on strike

        ii. Husbands must share duties in the home

        iii. Men can change nappies too

    c. Mindsets are beginning to shift, but still not fast enough

        i. We cannot overcome this by making speeches

        ii. But can encourage greater shared responsibility in child raising and parenting

            (1) Introduced childcare leave in 2004 which can be claimed by either parent – will extend this from two to six days per year

            (2) In addition, will now introduce one week of unpaid infant-care leave per year – also can be claimed by either parent, until the child turns two

10. Second, work-life balance

    a. Flexible work arrangements are crucial to make it easier for women to both work and have children

    b. Family-friendly employers play an important role

        i. If they are supportive and understanding, it will make a big difference to their female staff

        ii. Can do a lot with some imagination

            (1) Many provide space for nursing mothers to express milk

            (2) Others allow telecommuting, and very flexible hours, so long as the work gets done

            (3) One catering company equips its duty officers with Blackberries and walkie-talkies, so they can enjoy weekends with their families and still coordinate catering services

        iii. Will recognise and thank such employers publicly

    c. Government can help share the burden on employers

        i. Maternity leave – extended by four weeks in 2004 (paid for by government), to 12 weeks

            (1) Welcomed by many mothers

            (2) Will extend by another four weeks, i.e. from 12 to 16 weeks, also paid for by government

            (3) Can claim anytime in the year from the birth of the child

    d. Ultimately parents must make a personal choice

        i. Work 110%, or set aside time for other priorities?

        ii. Each has to decide her own point of balance

        iii. Recall own experience

            (1) My mother came home everyday to have lunch with the children

            (2) She avoided going out for evening functions

            (3) It meant taking on less work as a lawyer, but she decided that the children were more important

        iv. Today harder to do this

            (1) “Office” hours are longer

            (2) The pace is more intense

            (3) But still must maintain a balanced, fulfilling life

    e. Work-life balance also applies to the children

        i. Many parents complain about the stress on their children, especially because of education system

        ii. We have trimmed the school syllabi – teach less, learn more

            (1) But parents still send children for tuition, enrichment etc

            (2) Feed them chicken essence before exams

        iii. Some pressure is inevitable

            (1) Part of Singa­pore’s competitive spirit

            (2) Other East Asian societies are even more ruthlessly competitive

            (3) But we should manage it, and take it in our stride

        iv. Natural for parents to worry about children, and encourage them to work hard and do better

            (1) But also need to understand them – each child has different aptitudes and talents

            (2) Give them space to grow up

            (3) They will learn and mature in their own time

11. Third, the financial cost

    a. Significant expense to bring up children

        i. Direct child-raising expenses, e.g. milk-powder, pram, paediatrician etc

        ii. Also a high opportunity cost for working mothers – forgoing income at work or sacrificing their careers

        iii. Hence often the professional women who say that it is expensive to bring up children

    b. Financial considerations cannot be the motive for having children

        i. Many couples are indignant at this suggestion

        ii. But right for us to help lighten the burden of those with children

            (1) Hence the Baby Bonus and tax incentives

        iii. We will enhance these schemes

            (1) Baby Bonus – improve it for first-time parents

            (2) Tax incentives – will do more, to encourage mothers to work

12. Fourth, early childhood arrangements

    a. Major concern of parents, especially if both are working

    b. Critical period – from birth to 6 years (before formal schooling)

    c. Most families take care of children at home, i.e. with grandparents, extended family, or maids

    d. But many working mothers depend on formal childcare arrangements

        i. 25% of children are in childcare centres

        ii. More popular centres have queues

        iii. Visited one NTUC Childcare Centre in Jurong

            (1) Talked to some of the parents

            (2) They were very happy to put their kids there

                (a) Good growing-up environment for their children

                (b) Give them peace of mind while they are working

        iv. So we will build up the childcare sector

            (1) More centres – 200 in 5 years, or 20,000 places

            (2) More affordable – significantly increasing subsidy per child

            (3) Enhance quality

                (a) Train and provide scholarships for childcare teachers

                (b) Build up some childcare centre operators to set higher benchmarks for the industry

    e. Most parents send their children to kindergarten

        i. Early childhood education is important

            (1) Helps prepare children for school

            (2) But don’t make it more stressful for them!

        ii. Broad range of kindergartens

            (1) Top-end – they can take care of themselves

            (2) Mass market for lower- and middle-income families, like PCF

                (a) Standards have gradually improved

                (b) But we need to do much more

        iii. Government already supports those that meet MOE criteria

            (1) So far support is quite small

            (2) We will increase this substantially, on condition they upgrade themselves

            (a) Not just better trained staff

            (b) But improving the whole system – curriculum, supervision, staff ratios

    f. All these improvements will take a few years

        i. Cannot be done overnight

        ii. But this will give our children better care in their critical early years

        iii. Give them a more equal start in life

        iv. Also ease the concern of many parents

13. Two more measures that do not affect a lot of people, but I think we should do

    a. Couples who want to have children but cannot conceive

        i. Some go for IVF treatment which is expensive

        ii. We will offer financial support to lower the cost

    b. Those with many children

        i. We will extend incentives like tax reliefs, childcare subsidies etc. to the 5th and subsequent child

        ii. Numbers are very small, but I hope the incentives will encourage those who can afford it to have more

14. Measures add up to a substantial package

    a. Around $700 million per year – almost double what we are spending today

    b. Altogether, will spend about $1.6 bn or 0.6% of GDP

    c. DPM Wong Kan Seng (in charge of our population policies) will give the full picture later this week

15. Package will make a difference to many couples

    a. But I cannot guarantee that it will solve our problem

    b. This is a deep problem, which we will have to revisit periodically

    c. Finally, it is about mindsets, personal choices and values

    d. Please put emphasis on marriage and family, and make these your priorities in life

Our Future

1. Our children will grow up in a completely different world

    a. We have to prepare them and our society for this

2. One of the biggest changes that will affect us– the internet

    a. New media is pervasive and fast-moving

    b. Everyone is plugged in and connected

    c. People are blogging, engaging one another, organising themselves online, and doing politics online

    d. From “Grassroots” to “Netroots”

    e. Happening worldwide

3. America

    a. Current US election campaign

    b. John McCain is present on the internet, even though he says he does not know how to use a computer (Slide 1)

    c. Barack Obama – internet is a key part of his campaign

        i. Home page – “Change we can believe in” (Slide 2)

        ii. Younger Americans are highly energised

        iii. They are helping him to run the system

            (1) e.g. Chris Hughes (24, a founder of Facebook) joined Obama’s campaign

            (2) Using Facebook technology to link up, mobilise and organise supporters all over the country (Slide 3)

        iv. Raising funds online

            (1) “Donate now” (Slide 3 – zoom in)

            (2) More than 1.5 million people have donated – small amounts individually, but cumulatively a huge boost to his campaign

        v. Rebutting attackers on “Fight the Smears” (Slide 4)

4. Korea – world’s most wired country

    a. Internet has had a major impact on Korean politics

    b. Empowered new groups

        i. e.g. mass access to the internet helped President Lee Myung-bak to win resoundingly in Dec 2007

    c. But also created rapidly changing moods in the population

        i. Within a few months, President Lee was under siege

        ii. Mass demonstrations and protests (Slide 5)

    d. One issue – mad cow disease

        i. Fanned by rumours on the internet

            (1) “94% of Koreans have a gene which predisposes them to mad cow disease”

            (2) “Cow products are used to make pampers, which gives babies who wear them mad cow disease”

        ii. Videos and pictures circulated online and worked people up (Slide 6)

    e. President Lee calls it “infodemics”

        i. Anonymous false information on the internet

        ii. Creating discontent and unhappiness which spread like an epidemic in the real world

    f. One Korean newspaper called this “mad cow madness”

5. Malaysia

    a. Internet has become an active space for information and engagement

        i. Lively debate and serious contributions, together with more doubtful stuff

            (1) On blogs and chatrooms

            (2) On alternative news sites, e.g. Malaysiakini (Slide 7)

        ii. Politicians themselves participate actively in cyberspace

            (1) Cyberspace personalities entered politics, e.g. Jeff Ooi

        iii. In recent elections

            (1) Mass of materials circulated through blogs, SMS and YouTube

            (2) Public went into cyberspace to get what they could not get in mainstream media

            (3) Opposition campaigned widely in cyberspace (Slide 8 – website of Parti Keadilan Rakyat)

            (4) BN was also present, although not to the same extent (Slide 9)

    b. Election was not just about the new media

        i. It was about real life politics

            (1) Opposition raised many hot issues in ceramahs

            (2) e.g. rising costs of living, poor public service delivery, and perceived inequalities in the government’s policies

        ii. But these issues were picked up in the new media, and amplified through viral distribution

6. Even in China

    a. World’s largest number of internet users – more than America

    b. After Sichuan earthquake, netizens mobilised to collect funds and show support (Slide 10)

    c. Leaders are engaging on the new media

        i. President Hu Jintao held his first web chat recently (Slide 11)

7. In Singapore too, the new media is a big thing

    a. Talked about this two years ago

    b. We have moved further on since then

        i. More than 80% of homes have broadband access

        ii. 6 million handphone accounts – more handphone accounts than babies per person!

    c. Young people are totally immersed in this medium

        i. Reading print newspapers less

            (1) Getting information and discussing issues online, e.g. ST, CNA and omy websites

        ii. Organising interest groups

        iii. Writing their own content and sharing it with others

    d. All this has changed how the Government works

        i. Many services online, 24/7

            (1) From passport renewals to incorporating a new business

        ii. Communicating with and engaging Singaporeans online

            (1) Not just putting out video clips (Slide 12)

            (2) Two way process

        iii. REACH

            (1) At the forefront of this

            (2) Lively exchanges on its website – blogs, online chats etc (Slide 13)

            (3) Also active participation on Facebook

            (4) Lots of discussion on cost of living, ERP, babies etc – useful feedback for this NDR (Slide 13 – zoom in)

8. It will also change the way we conduct our politics

    a. We have to adapt, get used to it, and turn it to positive effect

    b. Use it to inform, educate, debate and engage

    c. Each of us must learn how to be savvy cyber-citizens

        i. Be discerning about what you see on the net

        ii. Distinguish between what is true and false

        iii. Set prudent limits to flag problems and avoid excesses

        iv. Participate actively but do not get swept away

        v. Do not catch mad cow madness

    d. Our rules governing politics must keep up to date too

9. First, party political films

    a. Presently totally banned

        i. Politics is a serious matter

        ii. Voters should consider issues rationally and coolly, and make considered decisions on their future

        iii. Concern that films are an emotive medium

            (1) Impact of watching a film is different from reading something in cold print

            (2) It can stir up passions and cause people to get carried away

    b. Concern still valid, but an outright ban is no longer sensible

        i. This is how people communicate on the web, and in daily life

        ii. Many make videos, e.g. the clips you saw earlier

        iii. Even my NDR has become a multi-media event

            (1) The speech itself

            (2) After the speech, many video and blog responses

        iv. Anyone can do this, anytime, anywhere

            (1) Let me show you

                (a) I have a handphone here

                (b) It has a software loaded called “Qik”

                (c) Let me run the programme

                (d) Turn on the video camera

                (e) Now I am recording a video of you “live”

                (f) Stream this onto the PMO website

                (g) After a short delay, you will see yourself on the net

                (h) Wave – you’re on candid camera!

            (2) Just like that, I have made our first (non-political) video

    c. So we must allow political videos, but with some safeguards

        i. Some things are obviously alright – factual footage, documentaries, recordings of live events

        ii. But some things should still be off limits – political commercials, partisan material, footage distorted to create a slanted impression

        iii. In between there will be some grey areas

            (1) But we can deal with this

            (2) e.g. for non-political films, censorship and classification standards rely on subjective judgment, yet we have worked out a workable system

        iv. Overriding consideration – preserve integrity and quality of our political discourse

10. Second, rules for political material on the internet during elections

    a. Current rules settled before last GE

        i. e.g. podcasts and videocasts are not allowed

        ii. Most people cannot post election materials – only limited to political parties, candidates and their agents

    b. By next GE, 5 years will have passed

        i. Cyber years are like dog years, so 5 years in cyberspace, is like 35 years in the real world!

    c. We must update these rules

        i. Liberalise and allow people to participate more actively and flexibly, e.g.

            (1) Allow podcasts and videocasts

            (2) Allow others to post election materials too

        ii. But maintain accountability and responsibility

11. Have sketched out my views broadly

    a. Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) led by Cheong Yip Seng is studying these issues in detail

    b. Look forward to their recommendations

12. Beyond cyberspace, politics is about people’s lives in the real world

    a. Have to get a direct feel for the person – Can he be trusted? Does he care for people? Is he capable?

    b. Have to talk, argue, persuade, and work together for what we believe in

    c. Cannot do this purely online

    d. We do this all the time

        i. At grassroots sessions, dialogues, meetings etc

        ii. Small society – possible for us to interact and get to know one another in real life

    e. A few restraints – cannot afford to take chances with race and religion

    f. Even then, Singa­poreans are free to do nearly everything

13. One remaining restriction – outdoor demonstrations

    a. Still not allowed

        i. Concern is law and order, and security

        ii. One incident could undermine our racial harmony, and confidence in Singa­pore

    b. Concern is still valid, but total ban is too rigid

        i. We should find ways to allow people to express themselves safely

        ii. Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park is a model

        iii. Well defined location, accessible, safe

        iv. Not many speak there, but anyone can who wants to

    c. We should allow outdoor public demonstrations, also at the Speakers’ Corner

        i. Still subject to basic rules of law and order

        ii. Still stay away from race, language or religion

        iii. We will manage with a light touch

            (1) No need for Police to be involved

            (2) NParks has agreed to be in charge of Speakers’ Corner

14. Overall thrust of all these changes

    a. To liberalise, widen the space for expression and participation

    b. Encourage more citizens to engage in debate, to participate in building our shared future

    c. We will progressively open up our system

        i. Much more open today compared to ten or even five years ago

        ii. Will continue to feel our way forward

        iii. Cannot progress just by copying others

        iv. Must think through our problems ourselves and find the right path for Singapore

15. But please remember that even in the cyber-age, some things do not change

    a. In 50 years’ time, Singa­pore will still be a little red dot

    b. To thrive as a nation, we will still need the cohesion to stay united, the ability to outperform others, and the will to survive and excel, and occasionally win medals

    c. That means:

        i. A hardworking and well-educated population

        ii. A capable and effective government

        iii. Outstanding people at all levels, totally committed to Singapore

    d. Then however the world changes, our children will still have a bright future

16. Before I leave this section on new media, I have one more demonstration

    a. Hello, Team Singapore

    b. [Eng Liang will give an update]

    c. Thank you. All of us here in Singapore are behind the team and cheering you on from home. We salute the men and women of Team Singapore, especially our paddlers Jiawei, Tianwei and Yuegu. All of you have done us proud and carried our flag high

Conclusion

1. Have discussed some key issues that affect our future

    a. Immediate concerns like inflation and cost of living

    b. Long-term issues like living graciously, raising families and opening up our society

    c. Must get these right to keep on growing our economy, year after year

2. Sometimes, people criticise us for over-emphasising economic performance, because GDP growth, employment, productivity, etc. are all just so many statistics

    a. In fact, growth is critical

    b. It gives us the resources to solve our problems

    c. It creates opportunities

        i. For our workers to secure better jobs

        ii. For our young to receive a first class education

        iii. For all of us to improve our lives and fulfil our dreams

    d. Growth is not just abstract numbers

        i. It is changing our people’s lives for the better

        ii. It is about the Singapore story, as lived in the lives of each one of us

3. Older generation of Singaporeans have experienced this

    a. e.g. Mr Arumugam Jeyapal – working in PSA (Slide 1)

        i. Only had two years of vocation training after his PSLE

        ii. Started out as a prime-mover driver, earning $250 a month

        iii. Worked his way up, and now is a mentor to yard-crane operators, earning $3,000 a month, and is active in the SPWU

        iv. Upgraded from 3-room to a 5-room HDB flat

        v. Three children are also doing well in different fields – a soccer coach, a lawyer (DPP), and a daughter studying in NIE to become a teacher

        vi. Now 58, he says, “I have lived the Singapore story…I am grateful for what the Government has provided”

4. Middle-aged Singaporeans too

    a. e.g. Mdm Lim Hui Bin, wafer fab specialist (Slide 2)

        i. Quit her job in 1999 to help daughter who was not doing well in school

        ii. When her daughter’s studies improved, she returned to work full-time as a machine operator at Seagate – was on night shift and had to work OT to supplement her low pay

        iii. Friends told her that she could earn more in a wafer fab

        iv. She resigned to find a job in the wafer fab industry but had no skills and no “lobang”

        v. Responded to an ad by NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to equip herself with relevant skills

        vi. Joined STMicroelectronics as a wafer fab specialist, earning $1,400 a month, nearly one-third more than before

        vii. At 45, she has made a successful career switch to a new job with brighter prospects; daughter is now at Singapore Poly studying to become an Optometrist

5. Young Singaporeans are writing their own Singa­pore stories

    a. Enjoy far more opportunities than what their parents ever did

    b. e.g. Crystaline Tan, Neng Abdul Rashid, David Aw – three SMU graduates (Slide 3)

        i. Fresh out of school

        ii. Recruited by Fullerton Financial Holdings (a Temasek company)

        iii. Now happily working in Dubai

        iv. They are taking risks, venturing out, and seizing opportunities, and launching off on exciting international careers

    c. e.g. Muhammad Fadzuli, computer games enthusiast (Slide 4)

        i. Addicted to computer games as a boy

        ii. Did a Diploma in Entertainment Technology in Nanyang Poly and topped his class        

        iii. Applied to Carnegie Mellon University

            (1) They gave him advanced standing

            (2) Waived requirement for a Bachelor’s degree

            (3) Allowed him to pursue his Masters directly

        iv. Won an MDA-ST Electronics scholarship

        v. Now on 3-month attachment at Disney (a collaboration with the university) helping to develop a new computer game

    d. e.g. Brenda Tan, marketing manager (Slide 5)

        i. Was “playful and lazy” in school

        ii. O-levels results were not good

        iii. Went to ITE, and then to Ngee Ann Poly for a Diploma in Business

        iv. Got a job in Citibank as a tele-sales officer

            (1) Did well, was promoted, and posted to Malaysia to help set up a new unit there

            (2) Became manager of the unit, overseeing a staff of 80

            (3) Now back in Singapore and progressing in her career

        v. She says, “ITE has given many opportunities to people [like me] who are less academically inclined...this is something unique about our education system and about the openness and acceptance of our society”

6. This is what we mean when we talk about growth, about investing in our people, about thinking long-term

7. This is what drives us to do the best for Singa­pore, whatever the uncertainties and difficulties

    a. Let us look beyond our immediate problems

    b. Work hard to grow our economy and transform our nation

    c. Then we will create even more extraordinary opportunities for a new generation

    d. Together, our children will write more glorious chapters of the Singapore story

http://www.news.gov.sg/public/sg ... -2.popup.Video.html


PM on inflation and the economy          http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr1.wmv

PM on middle-income Singaporeans    http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr2.wmv

PM on social graces                             http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr3.wmv

PM on Singapore's hosting of Youth Olympic Games (YOG)http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr4.wmv     

PM on population and birth rates         http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr5.wmv

PM on parenting (Part 1)                      http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr6.wmv

PM on parenting (Part 2)                      http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr7.wmv

PM on the Internet and regulations       http://160.96.186.141/SGPC/ADMIN/ndr8.wmv

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