For the video with sign language interpretation, please scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Thank you for waiting for me. I gave everybody a scare. The last time I did this, I was on the parade square in SAFTI and fainted. I think that is what happened. I have never had so many doctors look at me all at once. They think I am all right, but anyway, I am going to have a full check-up after this. But before that, I would like to finish my speech. I will not go into the Elected President. There is a lot of stuff which needs to be spoken, but I will find another occasion for that. I would just like to cover two things in my speech which I think is important and which I should say tonight. One, to do with leadership succession and I think what happened makes it even more important that I talk about it now. Two, where do we see Singapore? Where are we today? Where will we go in the next 15 years and next 50 years? I think it is good for us to step back from our immediate preoccupations and problems, and take a longer look at where Singapore is.
But first let me talk about leadership succession. We have now got the core team for the next generation in Cabinet, but you know ministers or not, all of us are mortal. Heng Swee Keat recently gave us a bad scare, worse than what I gave you just now, much worse. I am very glad he pulled through and he is steadily covering his strength. You have seen the video of him leaving hospital. It is a miracle he's all right. The SCDF team who responded to the emergency call did an excellent job and I am glad they are here today and I should say thank you to them because I invited them here as guests and they came to treat me just now.
The doctors have recommended that Heng Swee Keat avoid contact with crowds for at least a few more months to minimise the risk of infection. So, he cannot do his usual community and grassroots work for a little while longer. But they have given him the go-ahead to do office work with minimum interaction. So, I have decided that Swee Keat will resume his duties as Minister for Finance. DPM Tharman will stop covering as Acting Minister. Swee Keat will focus on next year's Budget and the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE). I told him, just do the work, minimize contact which is not necessary, avoid getting an infection. It can be troublesome. Do not shake hands just do ‘Namaste’ like that. I intend to appoint a Second Minister to help Swee Keat out with operational responsibilities at MOF and I have decided to appoint Lawrence Wong. Progressively, Swee Keat will come back to work. Building up leadership and preparing for succession is one of my top priorities. Nothing that has happened has changed my timetable or my resolve to press on with a succession. In the next GE, we will reinforce the team again and soon after the next GE, my successor must be ready to take over from me. 岁月不留人– you cannot wait.
I am sharing my concerns and plans with you because all of us have a role to play building Singapore together. But whom are we building Singapore for? It is not just for ourselves. It is for our children, our grandchildren. It has always been the Singapore story. Every generation doing better than the one before, looking ahead, acting now, and giving the best chance possible for the next generation. What is a Singapore we are building for children? Let us give ourselves some perspective – look back 15 years, look forward 15 years. I think plus or minus 15 years is a good timeframe. It is not so long that you cannot remember what happened before or that you cannot imagine what will come in 15 years’ time.
But whom are we building Singapore for? It is not just for ourselves. PM Lee
But whom are we building Singapore for? It is not just for ourselves.
15 years ago, we experienced 9/11. The world was in shock. Our economy went into recession. We held General Elections immediately in November 2001. We had a strong win. We went on to do many things together over the next 15 years. Just look at the changes to Singapore since then. Marina Bay, from reclaimed land, we created a whole new CBD. We built Marine Barrage, Gardens by the Bay. Now, we celebrate festivals there, including Christmas and New Year. We built beautiful HDB flats in Punggol and created the Punggol Waterway. We developed one-north to create opportunities in biomedical sciences, ICT, new media. We built buildings there with strange names, all kinds of ‘polises’. Biopolis for biomedical, Mediapolis for media – this is where MediaCorp’s new office is – Fusionopolis to bring different things together and the LaunchPad, humming with energy and innovation.
We built a city in the garden. The Botanic Gardens, very popular, or the East Coast Park, always full of families and life. We have got park connectors and ABC waterways all over the island, buildings with roof gardens, high-rise greenery and now, the wildlife is coming back. We have hornbills again. This one, his name is Bobby. He was born in the Istana grounds, then he went to Sungei Buloh where he collected the keys to his BTO flat. We have an otter family, famous on BBC, visiting different parts of Singapore. On National Day, we went back to the National Stadium and brought back the Kallang Wave. I thought you were going to join them!
In those 15 years, we went through ups and downs together. We discovered the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) group in our midst and yet we pulled together against terrorism. We experienced SARS. We were hit by the Global Financial Crisis. They did not break us. We drew closer together. Now, we are at the threshold again, looking ahead to the next phase of our nation-building. Having lived with terrorism for 15 years, we now find it a more serious threat than ever. Our economy is at a turning point. Again, like in 2001, we had a strong election win and again, we have a full agenda ahead.
If we put everything together that we are planning and doing, what can our children look forward to by 2030? What can we expect Singapore to look like? Physically, the western part of Singapore will be transformed. Lakeside Gateway will become a vibrant business district. The High-Speed Rail will connect us directly to Kuala Lumpur. This line takes a few seconds, but when the rail is ready, it will take you 90 minutes. The Jurong Lake Gardens with the Science Centre will give the Lake District a distinct identity. There will be new jobs, new high-tech manufacturing industries in the Jurong Innovation District. Another town, Tengah, will be built next door. In the north, a Woodlands regional centre, will be the northern gateway to Singapore with business spaces, housing and waterfront park. Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) in Punggol will cater not just to students but to anyone wanting to upskill and we will have more start-ups to occupy incubators like Block 71.
All over the island, we will be well-connected. Eight in 10 homes will be within ten minutes’ walk of a railway station. We can jog or cycle around the island along park connectors on the Round Island Route. In HDB towns, with cycling park networks like Ang Mo Kio, and others. You can cycle from home to work. For greenery, there will be the Rail Corridor plus parks and ABC waterways all over the island and we will have many high quality accessible preschools. If Heng Swee Keat were here and still in his old job, he would say, ‘Every preschool is a good preschool’. The PSLE changes now being planned will be long past, done and with some luck, our total fertility rate would be 1.6, maybe extra luck 1.68. Huat Ah!
If you look beyond 2030 into the next 50 years, what can Singapore be? Well, that is mostly for our children to imagine and to create, but it is our duty to sketch the outlines of SG100 and launch our children into their lives and futures. So, what can we imagine beyond 2030? The east, eastern part of Singapore – this is what it looks like today – will dramatically change. Changi Airport, with T4 coming up, and T5 later, will be a shining jewel. In Paya Lebar, the Paya Lebar Airbase would have moved to Changi and the entire eastern region will be ready for us to reimagine, redevelop, rebuild. The PSA Port at Tanjong Pagar and Pasir Panjang would have gone to Tuas and become the Tuas Mega Port, boosting our trade and economy, freeing up land to be redeveloped into the Greater Southern Waterfront City. It will have 30km of waterfront that will be three times the size of Marina Bay.
There is much to look forward to and we must aim high. But the intangibles are even more important. Will we be stronger as one people? Will the Singapore Spirit grow? Will we feel more pride and togetherness as Singaporeans? That depends on how we respond to the challenges and crises that will come our way. SG50 strengthened our sense of nationhood and togetherness. We grieved together at Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing. At the SEA Games and the Asian Para Games, we cheered Team Singapore on. At the SG50 National Day Parade, we celebrated how far we had come as One People, One Nation. After such highs, we might think, can things get any better after SG50? Can the best yet to come? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.
Can things get any better after SG50? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. PM Lee
Can things get any better after SG50? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.
This year, we showed ourselves and showed the world what Singapore can be beyond SG50. We are people building on the work of each generation, looking to the future with confidence, a nation where a young Singapore boy can achieve his dream, inspired by his grand uncle, the first Olympian from Singapore, spurred by his parents’ and coaches’ unwavering belief, dedicating himself to his goal, persevering through ups and downs, cheered on by the whole nation and that's how we produced an Olympic champion in Rio – Joseph Schooling.
Joseph will inspire many more, younger and older, to chase their dreams, to make the impossible come true. We are a nation where every Singaporean has a place, as we saw at the NDP this year, regardless of race or religion, whether you are able-bodied, or we have special needs, we stand together with pride singing, ‘Count on Me, Singapore’ and signing ‘Count on me, Singapore’ because we know we can count on one another as we sing Majulah Singapura. With this spirit, Singapore will advance in our nation-building journey. We don't know how we’ll be tested, we do not wish for tribulations to befall us, just to test our mettle, but some troubles will surely come and I am sure we won't be short of challenges. We will be tested as one people and we must not be found wanting.
But what I would like to have is that we be blessed with a ‘divine discontent’ PM Lee
But what I would like to have is that we be blessed with a ‘divine discontent’
Recently, somebody asked me at a dialogue, ‘If God appeared before you and offered you three wishes for Singapore, what you would ask for?’ I paused. I was taken aback. I thought about it and I said, if I ask for material things, we will regret it because after you have got it, you have consumed it, you have enjoyed it, you will not be satisfied, you will want more. But what I would like to have is that we be blessed with a ‘divine discontent’ – always not quite satisfied with what we have, always driven to do better. At the same time, we have the wisdom to count our blessings so that we know how precious Singapore is and we know how to enjoy it and to protect it. And that if we have just these two wishes fulfilled, I think that is enough because then, we can keep on keeping Singapore special and building something special in Singapore for many more years and then, we can achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation. Thank you and goodnight.
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