In this year’s rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong touched on the Singapore Bicentennial which marks the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival. Since then, Singapore has embarked on a journey where the nation-state has “overcame many difficulties, adapted to drastic changes in our world, and blazed bold paths forward”. Mr Lee reinforced the need to maintain this resolve and resourcefulness in the challenges ahead.
One of the greatest challenges Singapore faces is climate change. This is especially so as our low-lying island is vulnerable to rising sea levels. Mr Lee pledged to “treat climate change defences like we treat the SAF – with utmost seriousness”. The Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS) was set up to study the effects of climate change on Southeast Asia. Additionally, an estimated S$100 million will be invested over the next 100 years in engineering solutions to protect Singapore from rising sea levels.
Instead of primary schools, preschools are now the starting point in education. This “major shift to improve preschool education” aims to make a crucial difference in children’s formative years. The government has doubled full-day preschool capacity, upgraded facilities, provided teachers with better training and career progression, and made preschool more affordable.
To increase accessibility to education, school fees will be heavily subsidised across the board from preschool to tertiary education. Notably, government bursaries for medical schools in NUS and NTU have been significantly increased to “not let the cost of medical school deter potential students”.
Expanding contributions from older workers
The government pledged to “do its best to support older workers and the businesses that employ them.” To allow them to continue working longer and be more financially independent, the Retirement Age will be raised (yet again) from 62 to 65, and the Re-employment Age from 67 to 70. Additionally, CPF contribution rates will be raised for older workers. These changes will be done in gradual steps by 2030.