Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Chinese New Year message for 2014 has placed focus on the family structure. He noted that strong families and close ties with between Singaporeans have underpinned Singapore’s success, and will continue to be the foundations for a brighter future.
Below is a summary of his message:
1. Importance of Family: Families are the foundation of a cohesive, harmonious society. Time to strengthen family bonds. Extended families provide a valuable network of kinship and mutual support.
2. The Pioneer Generation: The Government is promoting healthy living and lifelong learning, and helping those who wish to work do so. The Government will be increasing medical subsidies, building more hospitals and nursing homes, and expanding home care services. To honour this special group, who saw Singapore through its most difficult times as Singapore, a Pioneer Generation Package will be announced to thank them for all they have done. PM Lee will also hold a special event at the Istana on 9 February to honour members of this Pioneer Generation.
3. Future Generations: PM Lee called for more Singaporeans to have children noting that Singapore’s Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was 1.19 last year, which was below the replacement rate of 2.1. He highlighted that the TFR for Chinese Singaporeans (1.06) was even lower. He said that 7,000 new childcare places were added last year, and there will be 20,000 new places in all by 2017. He also said MOE has started running five kindergartens, and will expand this to 15 over the next few years.
4. International Year of the Family: This year is the “International Year of the Family”. There will be family-friendly activities, including at the River Hongbao and Chingay Parade. The events continue throughout the year, including Family Days at places like the zoo and National Family Celebrations. More information is available at www.iyf2014.
5. Strengthening the Singapore Family: PM Lee called for more to look out for the less fortunate and also to nurture ties with fellow citizens of different races. As the majority race, Chinese Singaporeans have to be sensitive to the needs of the minorities, and give them ample space to practise their cultures and ways of life. Minorities too must give and take, and work with other communities to make progress together.