Thursday, 9 August 2012

PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2012

PM: What future do you seek for Singapore?
Ministerial committee being set up to take broad-based look at policies
By Jeremy Au Yong, The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2012

WITH the country at a crossroads, Singaporeans are being asked what sort of future they want for themselves and their children.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message yesterday, on the eve of the country's 47th birthday, was a call on Singaporeans to forge a consensus on the way forward.

"Today, Singapore is a success story, but the world is not standing still. The next two decades will be very different," he said, before posing what he described as fundamental questions.

The Government, on its part, will also be taking stock. Mr Lee announced that a ministerial committee is being set up to conduct a broad-based look at government policies.

To get the conversation started, the Prime Minister yesterday laid out three values that Singapore should retain: hope, inclusiveness and love.

"Singapore must always offer hope of a better future. We must always be a fair and just society which creates opportunities for all," he said.

He paid special attention to the role of pre-school education, saying the Government will work with parents to bring children to more equal starting points for primary school through good and affordable childcare and kindergartens. Speaking from the heartland at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Mr Lee said: "We will open up more pathways in our education system, to fulfil the diverse aspirations of our young.

"Let us prepare every child for the test of life, not just a life of tests."

On inclusiveness, he said those who succeed in Singapore's meritocratic system must remember that they "have a duty to contribute back more to society".

"We need to treat one another with dignity and respect, and to share the fruits of success widely, so that no Singaporean is left out," he said.

His third criterion revolved around the hot-button topic of population. He said Singapore must be "a home that all of us love".

He admitted it was difficult to nurture a sense of belonging in a globalised world but asked both locals and newcomers to do their part to integrate.

He also said the Government would do more to support family life and parenthood: "If we can create more supportive social attitudes and work environments, and lighten the burdens of parenthood, we will help couples to have more kids."

The implications of this speech on policy are unclear as there were no details. Sights will now be set on his National Day Rally address on Aug 26.

The speech was generally well received by observers yesterday.

Nominated MP Eugene Tan said it achieved the right mix: "I thought it was introspective but also forward-looking."

PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2012 (Malay)

PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2012 (Chinese)

PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2012 (Tamil)

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