天之聪网校整理 2023-09-18 129次
Speech by President Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the Swearing-In Ceremony
14 September 2023
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as the 9th President of Singapore. This was a vote of confidence in Singapore’s future, a future where we all progress together and deepen our solidarity as Singaporeans.
We have made ours a cohesive, multiracial society, with a high level of trust and unity. Yet none of what we have achieved is assured or permanent, as we can see from the tides of change in many countries. At the same time, our own society is maturing, so we must expect greater diversity of views and preferences. We must not allow any of our differences to divide us.
Now, more than before, we must grow our sense of togetherness as fellow Singaporeans. It will make us a better society, and add to our ballast as we face a more turbulent world.
The President, as the Head of State, holds a non-partisan office in our system of governance. Precisely because the President stands above the political fray, he or she can be a symbol of the nation, and be effective in uniting all Singaporeans, regardless of race, religion or other differences.
The elected president exercises important custodial responsibilities under the Constitution, safeguarding our reserves and the integrity of the Public Service. Other than these custodial powers, in most other matters including foreign relations, the President acts on the advice of the Cabinet. Nevertheless, within that framework, there is room for the President to take a special interest in specific issues, or champion causes close to his or her heart.
As President, with the strong mandate you have given me, I intend to work with the Government, community groups and other voluntary organisations, and the entire nation to strengthen our multi-racialism, and nurture a more inclusive society. I will do my utmost to support initiatives that deepen the respect we accord to our fellow citizens, of all backgrounds and in every walk of life – the respect for all that is at the heart of our solidarity as Singaporeans.
In exercising my veto powers on the reserves and key public service appointments, I will confer closely with the Council of Presidential Advisers, and be thorough and impartial in my assessments.
Our reserves have been patiently built up over many years of diligent saving, especially in our earlier phase of economic development where we enjoyed strong growth and healthy budget surpluses. They have now become a very significant resource and advantage in securing our future.
We have drawn on the reserves twice – first during the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, and again between 2020 and 2022, this time on a much bigger scale to see us through COVID-19. Unfortunately, COVID-19 will not be our last crisis. We must gird ourselves for more crises in a far more uncertain and volatile world.
There are also longer-term threats to Singapore’s existence and the lives of future generations. Climate change will be a defining challenge for the world, and especially so for a low-lying island.
Should the need arise in future to use the reserves to tackle such crises and existential threats, we will weigh the matter carefully. We will have to balance between meeting immediate needs and preserving the reserves so that every generation, now and in the future, enjoys their benefits.
I will be scrupulous and independent in making judgements that involve the use of the “second key” on our reserves – whether in responding to the future crises that will come from time to time, or in ensuring Singapore remains a safe and liveable home over the longer term.
It has taken many years of hard work and mutual accommodation to bridge racial and religious differences, and build trust and understanding between our communities.
We must continue taking steps forward, to add depth and resilience to our multiracialism, and never let it fray. We must continue to strengthen the experience of growing up together, and our connections and emotional ties with one another. We start in our own neighbourhoods, where we are most familiar with one another. Beyond that, we interact with one another in shared spaces, such as our schools, during National Service, and in our housing estates and workplaces, where we build closer bonds with each other.
As President, I will promote greater interactions between our different communities, even as we ensure the vibrance of our different cultures. It may be by encouraging our youth to play sports that are currently played mainly by a particular ethnic group, learning one another’s art forms, or promoting collaborations between our self-help groups, our various community organisations and our business chambers.
As we grow these interactions and lived experiences, we will enhance our respect and appreciation for one another. We strengthen our shared Singaporean identity, which has been and must remain our most precious Singaporean asset.
I remain committed to making Singapore a more inclusive and socially just society, which has been my life’s purpose. Government policies have shifted significantly to help us achieve this, and they remain essential. But to build a truly inclusive society, we need something more, which involves all of us. We must build a strong culture of kinship and respect, where we empathize with our fellow citizens, bring out the best in each other, and feel that we only truly succeed when we succeed together.
I will encourage the building of active community stakeholders and a thriving civil society to help us grow this culture. We can do more to nourish the soil for ground-up and purpose-driven initiatives to sprout and grow. From giving confidence to disadvantaged youth; to supporting those who need a second or third chance; to helping those among us who face mental health challenges; and to neighbourhood initiatives to support our caregivers and befriend seniors at risk of being lonely.
I plan to lend active support to the arts and sports. Singapore has made significant strides in both areas over the years. Our arts scene is becoming more vibrant, supported by our schools and tertiary institutions, community art programmes, and world-class performance venues and museums. In sports, athletes like Loh Kean Yew, Shanti Pereira, Joseph Schooling, Yip Pin Xiu, Sheik Farhan and Yu Meng Yu have excelled internationally, under great pressure.
Yet in both fields our best years are ahead of us. By nurturing every talent in the arts and sports and supporting them through their journeys, they will inspire us.
Finally, I will do my best to represent Singapore and promote our interests abroad, in line with the objectives and priorities of the Government.
We have entered an era of profound global uncertainty and growing fragility. The ongoing Ukraine war has violated the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of nation states. Major economies are shifting away from free trade and investment flows. Strategic trust is lacking between the world’s major powers, with the China-US relationship at its most troubled in decades.
Singapore must find its way forward amidst these global tensions, always advancing our long-term national interests by standing up firmly for our principles rather than choosing one side or the other.
As President, I will do my part to reflect Singapore’s values and views and to enhance our standing amongst the community of nations. I will work to deepen existing partnerships and build new ones. By remaining a voice of reason and striving for solutions that are of mutual benefit, we will remain a partner that others find worthwhile to engage with.
This evening, as I stand before you as your newly elected President, I pledge to discharge my duties diligently, faithfully, and to the best of my abilities, for the betterment of Singapore and Singaporeans. I will serve with all my heart.
I thank the Prime Minister for your support and encouragement. I look forward to working constructively with you and your Cabinet.
I thank my predecessor, Madam Halimah Yacob, for her service as the eighth President of Singapore, and for her counsel and advice as I take up this important role.
To my fellow Singaporeans, once again, I thank you for your strong endorsement. Regardless of the challenges ahead of us or the differences amongst us that we will inevitably have, let us remember we are bound by a common destiny. Let us take confidence in what we have achieved together so far, and pledge to work together for a future of optimism and respect for all.
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