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EIGHT members of parliament (MP) made their maiden speeches in parliament on Monday over a broad array of topics, including the importance of securing Singapore's economic position among weakening global sentiment.
"The road ahead remains bumpy. How can Singapore achieve moderate growth in this environment?" mulled first-time MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh Chong Kee Hiong.
The 13th Parliament of Singapore began its first debates on Monday on points made by President Tony Tan Keng Yam at the opening of Parliament two weeks ago, just as Singapore takes an inward look at how it can reposition its economy and tap future global trends amid weakening global economic sentiment.
The Committee on the Future Economy, headed by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, has begun its work to chart Singapore's next stage of economic development. It aims to complete its work by the end of this year.
Amid this backdrop, many of the 17 MPs who spoke in parliament on Monday, including eight first-time MPs, shared their views on what they saw as crucial to Singapore's economic resilience for its survival.
Other topics included Singapore's political structure, social cohesion and terrorism.
Even though Singapore should soldier ahead in its economic transition and not be bogged down by difficulties, Mr Chong called on the government to pay more attention to workers who have been displaced from their jobs.
He also stressed the importance of small and medium enterprises (SME) to the economy and called for more government support for them.
At the same time, young Singaporeans should be encouraged to work in SMEs, as their contributions are no less important than those in big corporations, said Mr Chong.
For Melvin Yong, MP for Tanjong Pagar, enhancing Singapore's tripartism was another way to strengthen economic security. He is also director of industrial relations fieldwork at the National Trades Union Congress.
Highlighting that the Public Transport Tripartite Committee is a good example of how tripartism has worked, Mr Yong said that close cooperation between the workers, employers and government agencies can help "achieve a win-win-win outcome for all parties".
Thus, there is a need to ensure that tripartism is practised not only at the national level, but also at the sectoral level.
In addition, stakeholders should work hard to raise awareness of tripartism in Singapore - including in schools - to ensure its relevance and continuity.
"I would urge for tripartism to be included in our national education so that every Singaporean child would know, appreciate and continue to nurture this key competitive advantage that our tiny red dot has," said Mr Yong.
Social cohesion as a bulwark against terrorism was also touched on in parliament.
In labelling terrorism as a divisive force, Sembawang MP Amrin Amin, who is also Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs, asked Singaporeans to stand as one against the threat of terrorism and its aftermath.
Other first-time MPs who spoke included Acting Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, Desmond Choo, Sun Xueling, Tan Wu Meng and Yee Chia Hsing.
Parliament resumes on Tuesday.
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