SINGAPORE: The Government will continue to help parents in Singapore manage the pressures of raising children and give each child a good start in life, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Jan 21).
Authorities are stepping up measures to support parents by, for example, lowering fees at government supported pre-schools from this month. Further changes will be announced in the coming months, Mr Lee said.
In his annual Chinese New Year message, the Prime Minister also urged the country to stay vigilant against COVID-19 as celebrations resume in full after nearly three years of battling the pandemic.
Chinese New Year celebrations during the past two years had been quieter due to COVID-19 curbs, such as a cap on the group size for social gatherings.
“I am sure this year’s festivities will be especially meaningful for many. The lohei will be tossed extra high, cheers of ‘Huat ah’ will be extra loud, and family gatherings extra joyous,” Mr Lee said.
“Meanwhile, let us not forget the hard work and sacrifices of those fighting at the frontline against COVID-19, and keeping Singapore going.”
The country has thus fair maintained its COVID-19 posture, while watching external pandemic trends warily, he added.
“Thankfully, our own situation remains stable. But new variants may yet emerge somewhere that bring unexpected challenges. Let us stay vigilant even as we celebrate,” Mr Lee said, as he called for Singaporeans to continue looking out for one another and exercise social responsibility.
This includes performing ART self-tests when needed, especially before visiting elderly relatives, and staying at home if feeling unwell or having tested positive.
People should also be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccine shots, including the latest bivalent vaccines, said Mr Lee, describing this as “the best protection” against COVID-19.
“I encourage everyone to play their part through these simple but effective actions.”
The Prime Minister said the shared COVID-19 experience has made people appreciate their families and loved ones better.
“Families are at the core of our social compact, and strong families are central to a stable, resilient society,” he said.
Authorities had designated 2022 as the Year of Celebrating Singapore Families, with a series of engaging and meaningful events and initiatives held throughout the year.
“We can all do our part to build a society where every family is valued and supported,” he said.
Companies, for example, can institute flexible work arrangements and cultivate a more encouraging workplace culture.
Community partners can also pool resources to celebrate and uplift families, while individuals should cherish family time and make it a greater priority, he added.
In closing, the Prime Minister said: “I wish all Singaporeans good health, and a very happy Chinese New Year.”