Friday, 9 August 2019

National Day Message 2019: Singapore must prepare for a very different future, says PM Lee Hsien Loong

PM Lee says world is entering troubled period, but past proves nation can overcome challenges
By Linette Lai, Political Correspondent, The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2019

Singaporeans need to prepare for a "very different future", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, pointing to the grave challenges that global upheavals had thrown up.

Speaking on the eve of National Day, he said he was confident that the country would overcome the challenges. But he pointed to the task at hand.

The world is fundamentally entering a more troubled period, he noted. Trade and globalisation are under pressure and friction between the major powers is growing, while global warming and rising sea levels pose existential threats.

"Singapore will not be immune to these global problems... They will disrupt supply chains, alter trade patterns and shift investment flows. We must get ourselves ready for a very different future," he said.

Singapore has taken steps to renew and reinvent itself, he added in his annual National Day message delivered from Changi Airport's Jewel, which he held up as symbolic of the country's spirit to dare to do the new - and do it first.

Singaporeans have gone through many ups and downs over the years, he noted. Today, economic uncertainties and the threat of climate change are grave challenges, PM Lee said.

"But our past gives us confidence. Throughout our history, when trials and tribulations have beset us, we picked ourselves up and worked together to overcome them. Each time, we reinvented and renewed our economy, our people and our city, and we thrived again. And this is what we must keep on doing."



Giving an indication of what he will focus on at this year's National Day Rally on Aug 18, PM Lee said pre-school and tertiary education will be made more affordable, especially for lower-and middle-income families. The retirement and re-employment ages will be raised to help older Singaporeans who wish to work longer, he added.

While he did not give any forecast of growth figures for the year, he noted that the economy has slowed. Global demand and international trade have weakened, affecting Singapore's manufacturing sector and trade-related services.

"We have experienced such slowdowns before, and we will take this one in our stride," said PM Lee. "Should it become necessary to stimulate the economy, we will do so."

Singapore is making good progress in transforming its industries, and in its efforts to reskill and upgrade the workforce, he noted.

The technology and start-up scenes are flourishing, with agencies helping entrepreneurs and companies scale up and expand into the global market.

Meanwhile, the SkillsFuture scheme is helping Singaporeans to be more productive and prepared for new jobs that are being created. "All these structural measures will not only address our longer-term challenges, but also help see us through a more immediate downturn."



PM Lee pledged that the Government will keep on investing heavily in Singaporeans and help everyone achieve their potential and give their best to Singapore.

But he also stressed that this is a joint endeavour. "Each one of us must strive to improve ourselves, do our best and chase our dreams."

PM Lee compared Singapore to Jewel, saying the gleaming new complex shows how Singaporeans have the creativity and daring to reinvent themselves, as well as the passion and competence to turn dreams into reality. "As you might expect, other cities and airports are already planning to emulate Jewel, and perhaps do it bigger and better," he said. "But we dared to attempt the new, and we did it first."

Other projects to remake the city include Changi Terminal 5, Tuas Megaport and the Jurong Lake District, as well as the redevelopment of Paya Lebar Airbase and the Greater Southern Waterfront.

These will keep Singapore busy and create new opportunities for Singaporeans for decades to come, he said. But he added: "To stay in front of the pack, we must constantly come up with fresh ideas, always be ready to break new ground.

"What limits our possibilities is not the physical size of our island, but the ingenuity of our people and the boldness of our spirit."



In a spirited call to Singaporeans, he urged them to be as intrepid as the first settlers who arrived here from distant lands, and as tough as the earlier generations who endured war and occupation, rebuilding their lives afterwards.

"Let us be as resolute as the Pioneer Generation who fought for independence and founded our nation, and be as united as the Merdeka Generation, who took up the baton and brought Singapore from Third World to First.

"Let us continue to work together as one united people to thrive in an uncertain world, challenge ourselves to explore new horizons, and commit our hearts and souls to Singapore and its future," PM Lee said, wishing Singaporeans a happy National Day.
















Coming up with fresh ideas, breaking new ground
This is the text of the National Day Message 2019 delivered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday at Jewel Changi Airport.
The Straits Times, 9 Aug 2019

My fellow Singaporeans,

This year, we are commemorating our Bicentennial. Our schools, community groups, religious institutions, clan associations and even businesses have all organised events to tell their own histories. Many of us have been moved by the Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning. It vividly depicts Singapore's rich and eventful history down the centuries.

These activities remind us that our history stretches back well before 1965 when we became independent, and even before 1819 when the British arrived. Singapore has drawn from many cultures and traditions, in our journey towards nationhood. We have gone through many ups and downs.



This year, our economy has slowed down. Global demand and international trade have weakened. This has affected our manufacturing sector and trade-related services. In particular, we are feeling the worldwide cyclical downswing for electronics - which performed strongly last year. But other parts of our economy are still doing well.

We have experienced such slowdowns before, and we will take this one in our stride. Should it become necessary to stimulate the economy, we will do so.

More fundamentally, the world is entering a more troubled period. We face grave challenges. One - economic uncertainties, with trade and globalisation under pressure. Two - strategic risks, with growing frictions between the major powers. And three - existential threats, with global warming and rising sea levels.

Singapore will not be immune to these global problems. On the economic front, they will disrupt supply chains, alter trade patterns and shift investment flows. We must get ourselves ready for a very different future.

But our past gives us confidence. Throughout our history, when trials and tribulations have beset us, we picked ourselves up, and worked together to overcome them. Each time the world changed, we were able to survive. Each time, we reinvented and renewed our economy, our people and our city, and we thrived again.

And this is what we must keep on doing.



For the economy, we are making good progress transforming our industries. We are servicing advanced jet turbines, researching new cures for diseases, and pushing boundaries in fintech services. Our seaport and airport are expanding to meet the growing demands of a dynamic Asia. The two integrated resorts are being enhanced to attract more tourists. Our tech and start-up scenes are flourishing.

Agencies like Enterprise Singapore are helping entrepreneurs and companies to strengthen, scale up and expand into the international market.

We are also making good progress reskilling and upgrading our workforce to be future-ready. SkillsFuture is building up the skills of tens of thousands of Singaporeans, helping them be more productive and employable, and preparing them for the new jobs being created. All these structural measures will not only address our longer-term challenges, but also help see us through a more immediate downturn.

By continuing to invest heavily in our people, we enable each one of us to take advantage of new opportunities at every stage of life. This is a joint endeavour. The Government will keep on helping every citizen to achieve your potential and contribute your best to Singapore. Each one of us must strive to improve ourselves, do our best and chase our dreams. And I know parents are making the effort to bring up children well, with the right character and values.



We intend to make pre-school and tertiary education even more affordable, especially for lower- and middle-income families. To help older Singaporeans, we have protected them for their healthcare and retirement needs. For those who wish to work longer, we will be raising the retirement and the re-employment ages. I will say more about these matters at the National Day Rally.

Finally, we must continue to renew our city. Recently a foreign leader, visiting us for the first time, told me that as his airplane flew over the island, he knew at once that he was over Singapore. Because, looking out of the window, he could see that every corner of the island had been meticulously thought through and lovingly tended - every housing precinct, every landmark, every patch of park and greenery. The island was a sparkling diamond, with brilliant facets catching the eye. Just like Jewel, at Changi Airport, where I am today.

Many of you have already visited Jewel, to explore its lush gardens, soak in the sight of the spectacular waterfall, and enjoy the unique ambience under the glass dome. Some of you may also work in the many new jobs created here.

The Changi team conceived the concept of Jewel nine years ago, when Changi Airport was facing intense competition. Since its opening, Jewel has captured the imagination of both Singaporeans and visitors, and rightly so.

We are very proud of our new gateway to the world. It reminds us what makes this country special. It shows that Singaporeans not only have the creativity and daring to reinvent ourselves, but also the passion and the competence to turn dreams into reality. As you might expect, other cities and airports are already planning to emulate Jewel, and perhaps even do it bigger and better. But we dared to attempt the new, and we did it first.

Jewel is just one of many things we are doing to remake our city.

Changi Terminal 5, Tuas Megaport, the Jurong Lake District, the redevelopment of Paya Lebar Airbase, and the Greater Southern Waterfront - all these projects will keep us busy and create new opportunities for Singaporeans for decades to come.

To stay in front of the pack, we must constantly come up with fresh ideas, always be ready to break new ground. What limits our possibilities is not the physical size of our island, but the ingenuity of our people and the boldness of our spirit.



Our island-story has many more bright chapters to unfold. Let us - today's Singaporeans - be as intrepid as our ancestors who came from distant lands and made this their home; and be as tough as our parents and grandparents who endured war and occupation and rebuilt their lives.

Let us be as resolute as the Pioneer Generation who fought for independence and founded our nation; and be as united as the Merdeka Generation who took up the baton and brought Singapore from Third World to First.

Let us continue to work together as one united people to thrive in an uncertain world, challenge ourselves to explore new horizons, and commit our hearts and souls to Singapore and its future.

Happy National Day!






When PM Lee Hsien Loong marched in the National Day Parade
He hopes those who took part this year will be inspired to serve in their own ways
By Tee Zhuo, The Sunday Times, 11 Aug 2019

A formative experience that will inspire them to serve Singapore in their own ways, is how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes young people who participated in this year's Bicentennial National Day Parade will remember it.

"Then when we celebrate the 250th anniversary of modern Singapore, they can look back with pride at what they have wrought, even as they in their turn pass on the baton to yet another generation of Singaporeans," said Mr Lee in a note posted on Facebook yesterday.

Mr Lee said he has had the privilege of contributing to Singapore's progress in different roles.

"My most critical duty now is to prepare a younger team to take over from me and my colleagues, so that Singapore will stay secure and successful after we are gone."

Mr Lee's note was a translation of remarks in Chinese he had made to Lianhe Zaobao, which had asked for his thoughts and those of other Cabinet ministers on the theme of 传承, a Chinese phrase roughly meaning "legacy" or "inheritance".

In another post, Mr Lee had remarked on how the two Chinese characters packed "so much meaning". "Literally to hand on and to receive, but a better translation would be to pass on something precious from generation to generation," he said.

In his note, Mr Lee also remembered parades past, nearly all of which he has attended since the first in 1966. He recalled being on the Padang as it rained in 1968, playing the clarinet in his school band.

"The parade formation held; nobody ran for shelter. We showed ourselves and the world that Singaporeans had the grit to stand firm in adversity," he said.

"I have watched the National Day Parades become better year by year, as our country developed, the SAF and Home Team upgraded their capabilities and equipment, and our sense of nationhood strengthened," said Mr Lee.



Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam were among other members of the Cabinet whose thoughts were published in yesterday's edition of Zaobao as part of its National Day coverage.

Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, said that Singapore has always believed in planning for the future.

"Our political succession has been very smooth, just like the past, ensuring continuity and stability. This allows the Government to work closely with the people, carry out long-term plans, and share the benefits of growth," he said.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, shared his thoughts on passing the baton and the importance of team spirit. He recalled how his predecessor in Tampines GRC, Mr Sin Boon Ann, had taken him under his wing when he started out in 2011, introducing him to residents, and was only a phone call away when needed.

Mr Heng said that when he suffered a stroke, Mr Sin did not hesitate to help, sharing with other Tampines MPs the work of meeting residents weekly. Mr Heng had collapsed during a Cabinet meeting on May 12, 2016, after he had a stroke.

"Boon Ann was a familiar face, providing peace of mind to the residents," he said. "This is team spirit - not just between peers, but a close bond that goes across lines of seniority."

Even after handing over the reins to the next generation, the previous generation can still contribute to nation and society, Mr Heng noted.

"Nation-building is not just the work of one generation, but a ceaseless process passed down from generation to generation. Only by building on the foundations built by our predecessors, and then successfully passing the baton to the next generation, can Singapore continue to be strong, united as one!"



Mr Shanmugam said that, for him, the words chuancheng also included the teachings of predecessors. He recounted how founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew used the analogy of a tennis match to illustrate how the fruits of societal progress should be shared.

"(Mr Lee) said, if there were a tennis match where only the champion snatched all the prizes, others would very quickly give up on participating. Only those who think they can win will continue," he said.

Only a competition where all participants could win a prize, but corresponding to each individual's performance, can encourage people to participate, Mr Lee had said.

"Mr Lee said Singapore's system needs to be as such, let people maintain the desire to succeed, but not leave behind those who do not perform as well," Mr Shanmugam said.


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