SINGAPORE — As President, Madam Halimah Yacob’s efforts to champion social causes made Singaporeans “more conscious of our less privileged brethren, and ameliorated their plight”, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Wednesday (Sept 13) at a farewell reception for the outgoing head of state.
“Your ability to empathise and resonate with Singaporeans from all walks of life has brought our nation closer together, and reminded us that we all have a role to play to make Singapore a better home,” he said in his speech at the Istana.
“You took an interest in many worthy causes, especially those focused on helping the less privileged, so that they would feel valued and recognised in our society.”
He highlighted some of these causes, including gender equality and promoting employment for people with disabilities.
Among her efforts to promote gender equality, Mr Lee noted, was inducting women who had made outstanding contributions into the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame.
As Patron of the Council for Board Diversity and the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations, Mdm Halimah shared her personal experiences in dialogues and encouraged women to push the limits, he added.
“Your efforts challenged gender stereotypes and heightened awareness of the biases still faced by women.”
She also advocated for more inclusive and accessible workplaces and employment policies under the President’s Challenge Enabling Employment Pledge, Mr Lee noted.
Mdm Halimah had frequently visited social welfare agencies to understand the challenges faced by people with disabilities, and to encourage employers and Singaporeans to be more accepting and understanding towards them, he said.
To raise awareness about mental health issues, especially among the youth, she launched the Supporting Youth in Community programme to provide young people with psychosocial support, he added.
“This programme has helped many young people to overcome their mental struggles and emerge from dark moments in their lives.”
And Mdm Halimah always looked out for workers’ interests, especially low-wage ones, he noted.
She launched the Empowering for Life Fund to support vulnerable individuals, as well as focused the President’s Challenge in 2022 on supporting lower-income families. The challenge that year raised a record-setting S$17.3 million.