PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG'S NATIONAL DAY MESSAGE 2005
1. On 9 August 1965, Singapore became an independent and
sovereign nation. Suddenly, we were on our own, with no natural resources
to exploit, no hinterland to fall back upon, and no army to defend ourselves.
But we were determined to survive, and started building a nation from scratch.
We worked hard to improve our lives, and create a future for our children.
2. Today, we have every reason to rejoice. In 40 years, we have
succeeded beyond all expectations.
a. Our economy has developed and prospered. After each
downturn we have bounced back, to create more jobs and a better life
b. Our society is harmonious and cohesive. We have built mutual
trust between different communities, and drawn all Singaporeans closer
to one another.
c. We are attracting investments and talent from around the world,
to live in a safe, clean, and dynamic city.
d. The SAF and our Home Team are strong and tested. Because
of them, we can sleep peacefully at night.
e. We are deepening our sense of shared destiny, and maturing as
3. Despite many years of peace, we must remain vigilant against
threats to our security. The bombings in London and in Egypt remind us that
the war on terror continues, and despite the tightest precautions, the terrorists
sometimes get through. We must be psychologically prepared for this, so that
if they ever strike here we will be resolute and indomitable, refusing to be
cowed by the terrorists and staying one united people.
4. This year, our economy continues to grow steadily. Growth in the
first half was 4.0%. For the whole year, we can expect growth to be between
3.5% and 4.5%. We added 45,500 jobs in the first half, many more than in the
same period last year. This has made it easier for displaced workers to find
new jobs. Our efforts to re-design and re-create jobs for older, less-skilled
workers have also helped.
5. Looking ahead, we face a totally different world. China and India are
emerging as strong, competitive economies. Globalisation is intensifying
competition and speeding up the pace of change. Faced with these common
challenges, the countries of ASEAN are working more closely together. We
will form an ASEAN Community by 2020. In fact, today, August 8, is ASEAN
Day. Together with our ASEAN partners, we will raise awareness of ASEAN
among our citizens. Greater ASEAN integration will help us to tackle these
challenges and seize the opportunities before us.
6. Singapore’s strong fundamentals enable us to face the future with
confidence. Our main priority is to grow and upgrade the economy. We need
to develop new skills and capabilities, open new markets abroad, bring in
investments and seed new areas of growth. We did not start off as a financial
centre, an electronics manufacturing base or an air and sea hub, but we made
ourselves all these. We cannot stop here; we must continue to reinvent
ourselves and build new competencies, as we are doing in bio-technology and
multi-media. We must also continue growing our external wing, and seek
opportunities in ASEAN, China, India and the Middle East. Then we will
create new jobs, and more than make up for the old jobs that are phasing out.
7. To achieve all these we must equip ourselves with the right skills
and attitudes to thrive in the face of uncertainty and change. Hence our
emphasis on a first class education system. Every Singaporean – and not just
a select few – must receive the best education that he is capable of. So we
are investing heavily in polytechnics and ITEs, and not just in universities. We
are paying attention to Normal stream students, and not just those in the
Express and Special streams. We are emphasising lifelong learning, and not
just pre-employment education.
8. We also need to remake our city, so that it is vibrant, cosmopolitan
and throbbing with energy, with our own distinctive X-factor that makes us
stand out from other cities. Global cities like London, Paris, New York and
Shanghai are continuously re-making themselves, so all the more must we.
This is the deeper reason, beyond attracting tourists, why we are developing
9. Last month, the International Olympic Committee met in Singapore,
to choose the city for the 2012 Olympic Games. Eventually London won. For
a few days, under the international spotlight, Singapore played the gracious
host. We did well, and must do even better on future occasions, for example
next year, when the IMF and World Bank hold their meetings here. This is
part of our transformation into a leading city, a first class environment for
talent and enterprise, and a home for Singaporeans of all races and faiths.
10. Economic growth is the best social welfare programme. Prosperity
provides us the resources to tackle many difficult challenges. One challenge
is the widening income gap. We cannot reverse this worldwide trend, but we
can help lower income Singaporeans to keep up and find new opportunities.
We are training them in useful skills, re-designing their jobs to pay better,
educating their children well, and helping them with their utilities and transport
bills. And we have the ComCare fund, which helps the needy to get back
quickly on their feet again.
11. A second challenge is our aging population. Singaporeans must keep
active, stay healthy and work for as long as possible, so that as they age they
can enjoy financial security, afford good medical care, and live more fulfilling
lives. Senior citizens are valued members of our society, and we must tap
their collective experience and wisdom.
12. Third, we must continue to look after the health of all Singaporeans,
young and old. I know many of you worry about your medical expenses. But
our healthcare system delivers a high standard of care for all. We will strive to
make healthcare services more affordable for all income groups. But you
must do your part too, to look after yourself and keep fit and healthy, because
staying well is the best way to keep medical costs down.
13. These are hard issues with no quick and easy solutions. But we will
learn from the experience of other countries and avoid their mistakes, and I
believe that we can manage these challenges.
14. Looking ahead, the signs are favourable. Asia is prospering, and our
neighbours in ASEAN are doing well. We are doing the right things, investing
in our people and gearing up to live in a different world. I expect the next five
years to be better than the last five. Therefore I am confident that working
together, we will make Singapore grow and prosper beyond what we have
15. On this 40th anniversary of our independence, I wish all Singaporeans
a happy National Day. Let us dedicate ourselves anew, as one united people,
to securing this bright and enduring future for Singapore.