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PM Lee speaks in debate on President's address: Live updates

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is speaking in Parliament as part of the debate on President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address.

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is speaking in Parliament now as part of the debate on President Tony Tan Keng Yam's address delivered on May 16.

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4.17pm: Mr Lee starts by reiterating the PAP manifesto of 2011, which states the Government goal of developing a "fair and inclusive society, where every citizen has a rightful place and the opportunity to fulfil his or her aspirations".

RECAP: PROGRESS MADE SINCE 2011

4.21pm: With 52,000 HDB flats built and subsidies disbursed almost doubling, housing situation now ‘under control’. HDB ownership is not just about providing a roof over heads, but give all a stake in country.

4.23pm: Steady progress has been made in public transport, but we can and will do better. More buses and routes to come; expect significant improvements to train system from next year.

4.28pm: First-class public transport system is essential to a world-class city, endearing home. Running a world-class system means investing more resources; Govt will continue to subsidise but commuters must be prepared to pay their share. Must find right balance in cost-sharing between Government, private sector and commuters.

4.29pm: On population: We are significantly reducing inflow of new arrivals, making a clear transition in our economy. We will review our population planning parameters nearer 2020.

4.33pm: We will help SMEs adapt to fewer foreign workers but cannot ease up on the limit. I hope companies understand.

4.34pm: We are paying attention to quality of foreign PMEs and fair treatment for Singaporean PMEs. We are managing foreign PMEs number and profile, will do more to give Singaporeans every opportunity to succeed.

4.36pm: We're also tightening up on numbers of construction workers – raising levies, reducing quotas, raising productivity. We have decided to defer more than S$2b of projects to spread out demand for construction workers. Hope Singaporeans understand the tradeoffs.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

4.38pm: There are exciting opportunities ahead: Continued growth in Asia, ASEAN integration, new industries, globalisation of information.

4.41pm: Happiness is a state of mind. We can be better off, but if we succumb to envy, then we will always be unhappy. 

4.42pm: To secure our future and give ourselves greater peace of mind, we will share the fruits of progress, strengthening social safety nets, keep pathways upwards open to all, fire up the human spirit, and get our politics right.

4.44pm: We will share the fruits of progress more widely, and strengthen social safety nets, especially for healthcare and retirement adequacy.

HEALTHCARE AND RETIREMENT

4.48pm: We will make sure MediShield-Life premiums are affordable to all. Pioneers are covered by Pioneer Generation Package, those below 65 will also receive subsidies, so don’t worry, it will be okay! Also, PSD will announce details later on how Govt pensioners will not lose out when MediShield-Life is introduced.

4.51pm: Many want to work beyond 65; we will work towards raising re-employment age further within a few years.

4.52pm: MND is studying how to improve schemes (Silver Housings Bonus, Lease Buyback Scheme) to unlock value of flats.

4.54pm: We want to enhance CPF-LIFE so payouts keep pace with cost of living, provide assurance in retirement for lower-income groups.

4.56pm: We’re increasing social spending at a time when many developed countries are cutting theirs. Other countries see today’s Singapore as a model to learn from – targeted welfare for the poor, low taxes, good social outcomes.

4.58pm: The best way to improve lives is not just to provide safety nets, but create ladders of opportunity so that everyone has a chance to scale new peaks, regardless of background or family circumstances.

THE EDUCATION SYSTEM

5.00pm: We are continuing to improve our education system, to give every child the opportunity to fulfil his potential, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and we'll keep shaping the culture in schools so students can interact with one another comfortably regardless of their family circumstances. Examples: Reserving 40 spaces at each school for students with no prior connection; exercising restraint in school spending and activities.

5.05pm: Keeping paths up open also means giving Singaporeans possibilities and hope throughout their lives; we need to strengthen CET (Continuing Education and Training). We need to open up many more pathways to lead fulfilling lives, so that one’s whole future career and life is not fixed forever by how one did in school.

AN OPEN, EGALITARIAN SOCIETY

5.10pm: We need to uphold an ethos of openness and informality in our society, without rigid hierarchies or class distinctions, where people can interact up and down the social ladder. The wealthy should not flaunt their wealth; status should not be marked by the car you drive or clothes you wear, or the way you talk. I wear shirts with holes in them all the time! Such issues are not essential to who you are, what you stand for, how people should think of you.

5.13pm: At the same time, those in positions of responsibility must also remember their duty to the rest of society. Respect has to be earned, but a society without leaders who are respected will fail.

5.15pm: We ourselves do not always appreciate this, but many who visit Singapore are impressed by what they see. Our international standing is high, businesses want to come, and “Singapore” stands for something in the world.

5.20pm: We must build on our reputation and our foundation, we must aim high, so Singapore will remain a special place, and we can create an even better future for our children

THE ECONOMY

5.22pm: There's work ahead in transforming our economy. We must not assume that success is guaranteed, or that we can sit back and relax, or that economic success is unimportant. We must have the ambition and drive to secure our place among the world’s leading cities, and make ours a city where every citizen can lead a fulfilling life.

5.23pm: Fulfilment is not about what others will give to us or do for us, either as an individual or as a nation, but what we do for ourselves, and even more importantly for others.

GETTING POLITICS RIGHT

5.22pm: We must get our politics right: We don't want money politics, power politics, racial politics, the politics of envy. Constructive politics can help us scale new heights; wrong politics will doom us.

5.25pm: What is constructive politics? First: Solving problems, creating opportunities, improving lives of people. Having good policies, making difficult trade-offs, leading people to get things done. Having a robust and open debate, and not just engaging in “soundbite politics.

5.28pm: But scrutiny must extend beyond policies, to personalities too. Not through anonymous innuendos and insinuation, especially online, that deter good people from entering politics. But responsibly, through open, direct raising of pertinent questions, and establishing the truth, to prevent incompetent, dishonest or self-serving people from getting into positions of responsibility. Certainly if ever a PAP MP were accused of making false and untruthful statements, I would get to the bottom of the matter.

5.29pm: We must maintain high standards of integrity. Honesty is an absolute necessity - the key differentiator between politics in Singapore and other countries.

5.34pm: Constructive politics depends on what we political leaders do, how we act, decisions we make, standards we hold ourselves to. The PAP does our best to practise constructive politics, debating serious policies and trade-offs even when issues are sensitive. Opposition must uphold same standards. Mr Low’s denial that WP did not flip-flop on foreign workers is simply false. The record is there in the Hansard for everyone to see.

PM Lee ends, saying: For some, turning 50 is a mid-life crisis. But as President Tony Tan Keng Yam reminded us, “At 50, we are still a young nation, with great promise ahead.”

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