Monday, 8 February 2016

Happy Chinese New Year: PM Lee

PM Lee Hsien Loong on economy: Government's watching it
There are still opportunities to be seized amid uncertainties, he says
By Lim Yan Liang, The Sunday Times, 7 Feb 2016

The Government is watching the uncertain global economic situation closely, but does not expect a severe downturn like in the global financial crisis of 2008, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

In his traditional Chinese New Year message as Singaporeans usher in the Year of the Monkey, Mr Lee noted that the world economy is slowing, China's economy is softening, stock markets are down and business sentiment here is guarded.

Hope all of us celebrating Lunar New Year will have a happy reunion dinner with our families tonight. May you have a joyful and prosperous new year! - LHL祝大家新年快乐, 身体健康,万事如意!- 李显龙
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, February 6, 2016

He pledged the Government's continued support for businesses and workers as they restructure and upgrade so they can prosper again "when conditions improve, as they will".

"We should take these ups and downs in our stride. We still enjoy full employment, and there are still opportunities to be seized, in Singapore and in the region," he said.

Mr Lee hoped Singaporeans would continue to take on these opportunities, and be quick-witted and dexterous, "just as the monkey leaps onto higher branches to pick peaches, and through his wit and agility takes care of himself, and stays at least one jump ahead of others".

Slowdowns in global demand and local labour supply meant local employment here grew at its slowest pace last year, a rate not seen since the 1998 Asian financial crisis.

But companies reported 60,000 vacancies as of September last year, down 11 per cent from a year ago.

Mr Lee devoted a large part of his message to the significance of Chinese New Year as a time when many catch up with their extended families, and welcome new additions.

He was delighted that more Singaporeans were born last year - 33,800, the highest in 13 years. The figure surpassed the figure for 2012, the last Dragon Year which is seen as a propitious time to have children and which has seen more births.

"I hope we will have more babies in the Year of the Monkey," he said, adding that the Government will continue to support Singaporeans in the many responsibilities and joys of parenthood.

Besides babies, family is also about living a full life and sharing joys and sorrows over a lifetime with loved ones, said Mr Lee.

He cited a recent short film commissioned by the Pioneer Generation Taskforce to raise awareness of MediShield Life.

It depicts the love story of an elderly couple over the years, and Mr Lee felt it encapsulated what family means: a pillar of support in good times and bad.

The family is also the model for how Singaporeans should relate to their fellow citizens, "seeing one another as members of an extended Singapore family", he added.

Mr Lee shared how he was humbled and inspired by the stories of the finalists of The Straits Times Singaporean of the Year award, whom he met last week.

He did not list their names, but cited the examples of Mr Ben Cheong, a builder of schools for the poor in the region; Ms Wong Li Wai, a nurse who risked her life to care for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone; Mr Ang Thiam Hock, a former sales consultant who opened up his home to at-risk youth; and sales promoter Noriza A. Mansor, who cleaned up and looked after a stranger who soiled himself while grocery shopping, and who won the award.

"They were all ordinary Singaporeans, but they all did extraordinary things. They brightened life a little, motivated only to put right what they found wrong, and bring solace and hope to those who were suffering or needed help," Mr Lee added.

"By helping others, and inspiring many more, they have made a difference to Singapore and to the world. That is what Singapore should be about. How we treat each other and what we are willing to do for one another defines who we are," he said.

"This country belongs to all of us, and is what we make of it. It is big hearts that must make our little red dot shine bright."

Mr Lee wished Singaporeans a Happy Chinese New Year.

In the spirit of the festive season, the Prime Minister made a surprise visit this morning..#HappyCNY #KungHeiFattChoy #GongXiFaCai
Posted by Ministry of Transport, Singapore on Monday, February 8, 2016

Long-term focus still priority during economic slowdown: PM Lee Hsien Loong
By Pearl Lee, The Straits Times, 8 Feb 2016

The economy is likely to grow at a slower pace this year, but the Government, businesses and workers need to focus on preparing for the long term, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (Feb 8).

Singapore needs to ride out the ups and downs in the economy in the short term, but the long term focus "has to be on upgrading; on productivity; on training; on SkillsFuture," Mr Lee said, as he, along with his wife and union leaders, visited workers on duty on the first day of Chinese New Year at Changi Airport.

While the country has already started on initiatives to boost innovation and training, a slower economy would give businesses the opportunity to take them more seriously, he said.

"When business is up and you talk about training, nobody has the time to train. When business is a bit slower, while we have a bit of slack capacity, we can do more," Mr Lee added.

It will also take time for SkillsFuture, a long-term national initiative to help Singaporean workers build deep skills and expertise, to bear fruit, he said.

The $500 training grant given to all adult citizens is "a symbolic gesture to get people to start thinking about upgrading and re-skilling themselves," he said.

Visited Changi Airport this morning to wish workers there a happy Lunar New Year. Changi Airport is one of the best in...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, February 8, 2016

Mr Lee noted that Changi Airport is also preparing far ahead.

The new Terminal 4 will be operational next year, while Jewel, a retail and lifestyle complex situated in front of Terminal 1, will be ready by 2019. The airport's fifth terminal, which will be ten times the size of the VivoCity mall, will be completed around 2025.

"We have to look ahead many years to make sure we stay in good position," he said.

Mr Lee added that he wishes for more babies to be born in the year of the Monkey. Last year, a record number of 33,800 Singaporeans were born - the highest in 13 years.

"We are happy and satisfied with the number of babies born last year, but of course, we have to keep working on it," he said.

He was accompanied by the labour movement's president Mary Liew, secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, and Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Josephine Teo as he made his yearly visits to workers.

They dropped in on check-in agents, immigration staff, cleaners and baggage handlers to thank them for their keeping the country running during the festive season.

When asked about spending Chinese New Year without the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore who died on March 23 last year, Mr Lee said: "We mourn his passing. But at the same time, we are twice as resolved to carry on to make Singapore succeed in a way which he would have been proud of."

There was a surprise for Mr Lee towards the end of his visit.

Staff from the Changi Airport presented him with a birthday cake and a song to celebrate his birthday. He turns 64 on Wednesday (Feb 10).

PM Lee Hsien Loong is surprised with a birthday cake during a visit to Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Monday. He celebrates his 64th birthday on Wednesday (Feb 10).
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, February 7, 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment