TL;DR – To the young and the not too old, I say, look at the horizon, find that rainbow, go ride it.
Minister Heng Swee Keat looked in the pink of health in his first speech in Parliament since his stroke last year. And it was the most important speech he, as a Finance Minister, would deliver this year. It was Singapore’s Budget for 2017.
I was hoping for some belated ang pows. I was quite disappointed. I read through the whole 51 pages worth of budget speech only to find that I won’t get a single cent from it. Maybe that’s why I found the speech quite boring.
I think some people will be happy, like couples buying resale flats can get more grants, some people might end up paying less income taxes, working people will be getting help with up-skilling, deep-skilling and re-skilling, students and professionals will also get some support gaining international exposure. Businesses, too, will be getting help and support going overseas.
Here, you can look through the 51 pages and see if there’re goodies for you,
I hear people rant about the 30% increase in water prices. While people are talking about increase in water prices, what these people forget is that they’re also most likely going to be receiving additional U-Save rebates.. But did you know our water prices have not been increased for 17 years? We should be learning to conserve water better anyway!
So now, let’s move on to more exciting things!
I think there were other things that happened in Singapore today that were so much more exciting than the Budget Speech. Here are three of them.
1. Fire at Bedok Reservoir Road HDB flat
MP for Aljunied GRC, Mr Pritam Singh posted this on his Facebook page:
He said that he was notified of the fire in his constituency barely after Minister Heng’s Budget statement had ended. There was a man who climbed out on the ledge, presumably to escape the fire. Mr Pritam Singh said he “was relieved to know that the man on the ledge was rescued by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.” Firefighters had to force their way into the locked unit to extinguish the fire. There weren’t any reports of other injuries.
It’s good to know that our SCDF is well-trained and well-resourced to be able to respond promptly to such emergencies.
2. Israeli PM visits Singapore
On the day that Minister Heng gave his Budget speech, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu kicked off a two-day official visit to Singapore. He pointed out that Israel’s relationship with Singapore had expanded beyond the defence ties which were set in the mid-1960s.
PM Netanyahu also said:
“It’s not only that we’re both innovative nations. It’s not only that we’re small people that have defied the limitations of our size. It is that we’re committed to a better world. A world of diversity, a world that follows the values that we as a people have held for so many years”
Indeed, Israel is a very innovative nation. Israeli high-tech companies closed 104 exit deals in 2016 for a total of $10 billion. And the impact isn’t just restricted to within Israel. Seven Israelis founded or co-founded tech companies in USA worth over $1 billion each. The combined valuation of their six companies (one of them has two Israeli co-founders) exceeds $22 billion.
If the strategies proposed by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) and measures in Budget 2017 can help Singaporean companies be as successful as Israeli companies, then there will certainly be much for us to cheer about.
In case your curious minds are wondering about the Singapore-Israel relationship, the two countries have been friendly with each other since our early days of independence. This is also a reciprocal visit following our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestinian Territories in 2016.
What should be noted is that Singapore has always preferred to be friends with those who want to be friends with us, even though we may not agree on everything. In this potentially delicate case, Singapore supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine matter. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to live within secure borders and in peace, but we also respect the right of the Palestinian people to a homeland.
3. Rare fire rainbow in the Singapore sky
There was a paddle-pop looking rainbow above Singapore today.
The phenomenon, known as a fire rainbow, is a rare sight as all factors need to be available at correct time and at correct position. Some people think that having such a fire rainbow appearing on the day Minister Heng gives the Budget speech could be a sign. A sign that reminds us of what the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew said:
“The sky has turned brighter. There is a glorious rainbow that beckons those with the spirit of adventure. And there are rich findings at the end of that rainbow. To the young and the not too old, I say, look at the horizon, find that rainbow, go ride it.”
Yes. It’s silly to think that our economy will suddenly become stronger simply because of the rainbow. But the reminder that we should always have a spirit of adventure no matter what weather we have to face. Only then will we be able to ride the rainbow that comes after the storms, find the grains of gold, and dig them up.