Right to lead ‘cannot be inherited’: President Halimah to fourth-generation leaders

Right to lead ‘cannot be inherited’: President Halimah to fourth-generation leaders

In her speech at the opening of the second session of the 13th Parliament on Monday, she pointed out that the duties of the new leaders of Singapore are clear but their path “will not be easy”.

cabinet reshuffle
A Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday (Apr 24), before changes take effect on May 1, 2018. (Photo: Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook) 

SINGAPORE: The path ahead for the next generation of Singapore’s leaders will not be easy but their duty is clear, President Halimah Yacob said on Monday (May 7).

Opening the second session of the 13th Parliament, Mdm Halimah said there will be times of hardship, where they must demonstrate leadership and resolve. And there will be “moments of truth, where they have to stand firm on principles and ideals while seeking practical resolutions”.

“They will need to listen to the views and feelings of the people, and by their words and deeds, show that they have heard, yet never fear to lead and mobilise public opinion to support difficult policies in the long-term interest of Singapore,” she said.

“This is how they will earn the right to lead,” she added. “That right cannot be inherited.”

In each generation, she said, the people and leaders must work with one another, go through trials and tribulations together and forge their own bonds afresh.

Ministers at Parliament
Fourth-generation leaders like Mr Chan Chun Sing and Mr Ong Ye Kung at the opening of the second session of the 13th Parliament on Monday (May 7). (Photo: Jeremy Long)


In responding to the challenges of their times, the fourth-generation leaders will work in concert with Singaporeans, Mdm Halimah said, adding that leadership will continue to make a critical difference to Singapore in an uncertain and volatile world.

A new generation of Singaporeans – with dreams, hopes and fears that are different from those of their parents and grandparents – is coming of age, she said.

“They dream of a bright future, and pour their energies into exploring fresh horizons and building a better world,” she said. “They want to see their parents age well. They hope for a fairer and more equal society.”

“Most of all, they are eager to take on responsibilities, participate in building and guiding Singapore, and step up to serve their community and country,” she added.

The new leaders, therefore, must “fire up and mobilise the spirit and energy of young Singaporeans”. “They must grow with the people they represent, embrace a diversity of views and ideas, and yet forge a clarity of purpose and unity of action,” she said.

Lee Hsien Loong, Teo Chee Hean, Shanmugaratnam at Parliament
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the opening of the second session of the 13th Parliament on Monday (May 7). (Photo: Jeremy Long) 


Mdm Halimah noted that the fourth-generation leadership team is taking shape, and taking on more responsibilities. And they will have to confront the question: “What is next for Singapore?”

“Like their predecessors, the fourth generation leaders will uphold our foundational values – multi-racialism, meritocracy, incorruptibility, self-reliance, inclusivity and openness to the world,” she said.

“They recognise the constants of Singapore’s existence,” she added. “A small, multi-cultural city-state, with no natural resources, in the heart of Southeast Asia, must survive and thrive on the wits and will of its people.”

In her speech, Mdm Halimah outlined several “significant developments” in Singapore’s external and domestic environments that must be understood and dealt with. These include regional tension, terrorism as well as inequality and social stratification on the domestic front.

She pointed out that these developments can affect Singapore in “unexpected ways”.

“We need to watch them closely, tackle them resolutely, and make progress together,” she said. “We already have policies and programmes to respond to these shifts. These tasks will occupy us beyond this term of Government.”

Mdm Halimah noted that the imprint of the new leadership in developing and implementing public policies is starting to become evident. Over time, she said, these policies will be elaborated, refined and will produce results. 

Source: CNA/lc