A Singaporean man’s reflections from PM Lee’s National Day Rally 2019 speech

By August 21, 2019Current

TL;DR – Trust, is what I constantly see in the essence of my relationship with this Government.

It was a long night after the National Day Rally (NDR) on Sunday. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the NDR because it offered me a clear picture of what PM Lee Hsien Loong and his team intends for Singapore in the medium to long run, and also, how far our nation has arrived.

I have always felt that our PM Lee and his Government are the most under-appreciated Leaders in the world.

His years in Office, from 2004 – current, have brought about remarkable changes to Singapore. You just have to compare our discourse spaces for Civil Societies, the beautiful skylines and our Standard of Living from the time he took over to what we are enjoying currently.

Small as we are, we still nearly always emerge tops in the best-of-best lists in the world.

Unfortunately, his terms in office also were also faced with the greatest amount of unprecedented challenge in terms of the proliferation of social media for political rhetoric, more often for bane than boon; and the emergence of an increasingly vocal keyboard warriors whose main aim was to espouse negativity or spread misinformation to feed their personal agendas. It has always been human nature to first look for flaws and forget about the blessings that they have been bestowed. Social media just in turn become mass echo chambers and PM Lee and his team then become the convenient whipping boys as a result.

PM Lee and his team are not perfect, definitely. But, who is?

To me, what is most important is that PM Lee and his team have delivered on their promises made since taking over power.  PM Lee had said on Sunday night, “What we talk about, this Government, we will deliver.”

Trust, is what I constantly see in the essence of my relationship with this Government.

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I am determined to reclaim the moderate perspective and positive essence on social media discussions related to Singapore and the achievements of our good Government.

National Day Rally (NDR) 2019 Key Takeaways

Hence, on a reflective note and for the sake of those who missed it, here’s the NDR 2019 in brief:

  • We should be proud of how far we have come as a nation. We should be confident of our future looking back at how much adversities we have overcome.

  • This Government is definitely a responsible government that plans way ahead.

  • Our Malay Community is making big strides. They have developed a uniquely Singaporean Malay Identity despite originating from the different regions of the Malay Archipelago. Kudos to my fellow Malay Singaporeans!

  • PM Lee also stressed that Singaporean Chinese, first and foremost, see themselves as Singaporeans and are loyal to this nation. This is the evolvement from the Chinese diaspora in this part of the world over a period of 200 years. China should just stop asking us to be on their side on the pretext that we are a Chinese-majority country.

  • PM Lee is sending clear signals to China and US that we will not take sides in the rivalry. He is telling the United States that it is foolish to contain the rise of China. Both powers should learn to accommodate and work with each other. A large part of the world has become collateral damage as a result of the containment policy of the US.

  • We are a principled state, as always.

  • Climate Change is real. We are prepared to tackle it by devoting huge resources to it, $100 billion to be exact. This is a 50 – 100 year problem and we are planing in advance of 50 – 100 years to tackle it. We should take Climate Change as seriously as we take our Defence.

  • In my opinion, a populist Government would probably want to use this $100 billion to enhance their vote banks, but not this Government. I thank my lucky stars that I am not governed by a Government populist in nature. But this is a Government that wants to do the right thing, popular or otherwise.

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  • Tackling an ageing society.  The Singapore Government understands the needs of our older workers by adjusting CPF contribution rates, retirement and re-employment ages, but at the same time emphasised that resilience and re-skilling are important for this group of people too.

  • The gradual raising of the retirement and re-employment ages is, in fact, giving our older workers policy security. It makes sure that employers do not fire older workers just because of age. No one is stopping you from retiring earlier at 50, 40 or even 30 if you’re adequately prepared. But if you wish to have a longer career runway and want to work till longer, you will have a chance and a choice.

  • PM Lee openly tackled fake news and the alternative media. He repeated thrice that there will be no changes to current CPF withdrawal policies or ages despite the change in retirement, re-employment ages and CPF contribution rates for older worker.. He even mentioned POFMA.

  • PM Lee cannot emphasise enough that human capital is, really, our only resource and hence Education for our citizens should start young – Preschool Level. More subsidies will be allotted towards lowering the cost of pre-school education for Singaporean kids to ensure that no one gets left behind.

  • Also on education and costs. A major burden of the Lower to Middle Income Group relieved – increased Higher Education School Fee subsidies in the form of expanded bursary coverage.

Finally, our PM stressed the importance of staying united as Singaporeans in this increasingly challenging world.

The future is bright for Singapore, he reassures us, and to what unprecedented levels we wish Singapore to progress to will depend on how we determined we are to make this nation shine beyond our wildest dreams.

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PM Lee cited the example of PSA and the story of our port expansion.

When PSA proposed the expansion of our Container Port to Pasir Panjang in 1993, the Port of Singapore was then handling about 6 million TEUs annually with the facilities at Tanjong Pagar. Expansion to Pasir Panjang would allow PSA to handle 36 million TEUs annually and it was a VERY bold dream back then. By 2018, the amount of containers our port handles had indeed hit 36 million TEUs. Our next phase of port expansion will involve the relocation of our entire operations to the Tuas Megaport. This time round, the target set is to double the amount of what our port now manages.

Yes, indeed. This is the very essence of what the Singapore dream is all about – dreaming the seemingly impossible and beating the odds to achieve it

Majulah Singapura!


(Featured image via MCI)


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Joey Wee

Author Joey Wee

I am nice, most of the time!

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