PM Lawrence Wong at the Launch of the National Family Festival 2024

PM Lawrence Wong | 25 May 2024

Speech by Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong at the launch of the National Family Festival on 25 May 2024.

Mr Keith Magnus,
Families for Life Council Members,
My Cabinet colleague, Mr Masagos,
Excellencies and Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very happy to join all of you today to launch the National Family Festival. The organisers had invited me to attend this event months ago, and I accepted the invitation months ago. They did not anticipate or know that the transition date would have been 15 May. There was no revealing of that date to them. But I think the timing could not have worked out any better, because it so happens that this is now one of the first few public events that I am able to attend as Prime Minister. And it is also good that I can do so to affirm the importance of families to Singapore in my capacity today as Prime Minister.

Well, as you heard just now, the Families for Life Council started this event two years ago – and back then it was just a handful of events over a day, and then over the weekend. Now, we have evolved it and grown it into this inaugural month-long festival, with many more activities for families to enjoy. And so happens it is the start of the June school holidays, so I am sure families with children will find many more options for quality time during this period through the festival, so a big thank you to the Families for Life Council and the movement for putting this together. Thank you very much.

Families are the Bedrock of Society

Families are the cornerstone and bedrock of our society. Within the family unit, we first learn the values of love, trust and responsibility. Through the intimate interactions of family life, our children develop empathy and social understanding, and also their sense of belonging and identity.

Families are our primary support system. When we are in trouble, our families step in to provide help and assurance. When we are feeling down, our families provide a safe space for us where we can feel loved and supported. The strength of our families directly shapes the strength of our society. When our families flourish, so too does our community and so too does our nation.

The good thing is that Singaporeans have consistently put their families as their top priority. This is not because of Government saying so; it is Singaporeans themselves who have reflected this time and again through our surveys. In fact, when we engaged widely many Singaporeans as part of Forward Singapore exercise last year, we heard from many Singaporeans including young people and young adults who expressed their desire to get married and have children. It is a very high desire. We wish a lot more of them will follow through on their desires. But the good thing is that the desire is high.

So the Government will continue to support families, and our policies will continue to strengthen the role of families in Singapore. We want to help all Singaporeans realise their hopes and dreams for their families.

Helping Families at All Stages of Life

Of course, we recognise that families require different types of support across different stages of life. For young couples who are embarking on their marriage journey, a lot of the concerns are about buying their first home, settling down, so that they can grow their families early. For parents with young children, and it would include those with special needs, the concerns are typically about infant care, child care, and then later of course, education, and even jobs for their children when they have grown up. For families with seniors, it is about providing assurances for their retirement and healthcare needs.

So we will continue to review and update our policies to address these diverse concerns and to provide better support for our families. The Government has already made some moves in recent years, for example, by providing enhancements to our Caregivers grant; or by significantly investing in pre-school to give every child a good start in life; providing more support for young couples to purchase their HDB flats earlier; and also through Healthier SG and Age Well SG for our seniors so that they stay active and healthy and can grow old with dignity and grace. We will continue to study and consider what more can be done to better support our families in Singapore.

Mindset Changes

But stronger support for families is not confined to making policy changes.

What is equally, perhaps even more important are our own attitudes and mindsets. We need to value and prioritise family time. We also need to change outdated stereotypes surrounding family roles.

The old paradigm positioned men as exclusively breadwinners and women as homemakers – I think that no longer applies in today’s society. Families thrive when all members are able to pursue their aspirations and realise their full potential. And so, it is good; you do see more younger fathers being involved in family life – some not so young too – being more involved in family life. They are changing diapers, they are doing housework even, and they are also spending more quality time with their children. It is a very encouraging trend that we should encourage. Nowadays, more than half of new fathers take paternity leave — that is about double the percentage compared to a decade ago. But half still means that about half of the new fathers do not even take paternity leave. So there is certainly still more that we can do to encourage fathers to take a bigger role in their families.

In today’s world, managing the demands of work and family life is also another challenge. But with thoughtful strategies and supportive workplace practices, we can create an environment where work and family goals complement, rather than conflict with each other. I believe Singaporeans continue to have a strong work ethic – we are conscientious, we are responsible, and we have no issues going the extra mile, especially when there are urgent work priorities. At the same time, we value spending quality time with our families, and being there for them through the ups and downs of life. So we should all strive to foster a work culture in Singapore that recognises and supports the whole person, not just the employee. And that means a work culture that promotes efficiency and productivity during office hours; and also respects personal time after office hours. It means a work culture that embraces excellence and hard work; but also protects family time during vacations, public holidays and weekends.

Achieving such a balance between work responsibilities and family life is not easy. It will require adjustments across every employer and every company. It will need a better understanding of flexible work arrangements, and how they can be applied across different work environments and contexts.

But step by step, we can and are making progress towards such a shift in our work culture. Last month, we released the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests to advance the adoption of flexible work arrangements in Singapore. And we hope that these Guidelines will help to foster more open communication between employers and employees about mutually beneficial flexi-work arrangements. And over time, we hope this can contribute to a more productive, empathetic and inclusive work environment.


To make Singapore more family-friendly, we also need ground support; we need to involve many more partners and stakeholders.

So today, I would like to give a shout-out to the Families for Life Council for its many contributions. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Families for Life movement. And over the past decade, the Families for Life movement has done much to make Singapore more family-friendly. You heard from Mr Magnus just now – one example being the marriage and parenting programmes organised by the movement, which has benefited thousands of couples and parents every year. And I am glad to hear that the Movement is bringing your programmes and resources to even more towns, and more workplaces in Singapore. The Movement has also encouraged many families, corporate partners to step forward to support the cause. Today, there are over 2,000 volunteers who support and facilitate family-bonding events and serve as our family ambassadors. Many of you are here with us today; I would like to thank all of you for your commitment and contributions. Thank you very much. Going forward, I am confident that the Families for Life Council, together with your many stakeholders, partners and volunteers can help to grow this national movement to advance the cause of families and to build stronger and more resilient families in Singapore. We have to be steady and steadfast in our approach.


All of us would like to look for quick-win solutions, but there is no such thing as a quick-win solution. There is no easy way to build strong family ties. Family life, while deeply rewarding, we all know can be complex and challenging. It can sometimes be difficult; it can even be exasperating. Every one of us knows that; we all know that. We all have been through it. Forging closer family ties is not something that happens effortlessly. It certainly does not happen overnight. This is a lifelong journey; it is not a sprint. We are having this event at the Gardens, so perhaps I can borrow a related metaphor. Because this is like a gardener tending his plants, or her plants, and nurturing each one from seed to bloom. It takes time, it takes effort, it takes patience. And we too, like a gardener, must commit to cultivating stronger family relations. In the end, it is an investment well worth making. Because I firmly believe that the true measure of success in life is not based on one’s status or material possessions. Instead, the richest treasures are the moments we share with our family members and loved ones – these relationships are our legacies and the truest reflections of our lives’ worth.

So let us all pledge to cherish and nurture our family bonds. Let us work together to build a Singapore Made for Families, where we can create many happy memories with our families, and where everyone can enjoy an enriching family life here in this Garden City we call home. Thank you very much.