PM Lee Hsien Loong at the SG50 Appreciation Dinner on 18 March 2016

18 March 2016


PM Lee at SG50 Appreciation Dinner

Good evening everybody, it is such a pleasure to be here at the SG50 Appreciation Dinner this evening.

It has been a special year for all of us. Each one of us will have our own precious memories of SG50. Lining up in the rain, when we bid Mr Lee Kuan Yew a final farewell, just under a year ago. Singing our hearts out to “Home” during the Golden Jubilee at the Padang. Cheering our athletes at the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games, and singing on “Majulah Singapura” when the music malfunctioned. Celebrating our religious and racial harmony through many events: The SG50 Catholic Mass, the Jubilee Day of Prayer organised by the Protestant Churches, the Harmony in Diversity concert organised by the Taoist Federation and New Creation Church, or the many Iftars and celebrations organised by the mosques and other religious events too. 

So, I thank all of you for making SG50 a success. The Steering Committee led by Heng Swee Keat and the Sub-Committees, the MCCY Programme Office headed by Lawrence Wong and many government agencies, the team who did the Future of Us Exhibition, led by Gene Tan and helped by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) students to design the lattice work, which made that beautiful impression of sunlight filtering through tree leaves. Also helped by 600 ITE students who were docents and guides and helped to run the show. The partners and sponsors who gave so generously of their time and resources and all those who tapped on the Celebration Fund to organise many meaningful projects for Singaporeans.  For examples, the group of disabled mouth painting artists who came together to paint a portrait of our iconic Merlion, which was reproduced as a SG50 commemorative postcard. Another group of youths, including youths on probation, who organised Mobile Family Days across the Southwest District to bring the celebrations to the less privileged and elderly. As well as many other Singaporeans and volunteers, we thank you all! 

We are marking the end of SG50 by sealing the SG50 Time Capsule. It will contain 50 items chosen by Singaporeans that represent our identity and our journey as a nation. In fifty years’ time, we will open it up, I am not sure I will be there for the ceremony but I am sure many of you will be. When you open it, I hope it will not only bring back memories of this SG50 Jubilee year, but will cause you to look back at the fifty years that will have gone by and be able to say, we have taken Singapore forward together.

SG50 has not just been about our past, but it has also always been about our future. That is why the final major event of SG50 was the Future of Us Exhibition, just at the Gardens by the Bay nearby here, to give us a glimpse of the possibilities of the future, and to spark off ideas, ambitions and dreams in all of us. We saw many interesting exhibits contributed by Singaporeans, how we work, live and play – urban farms, healthcare, even floating HDB blocks. The Lion that roared at the playground, complete with flying crescents and starts, was a big hit with old and young.

But really, the exhibition was not a prediction of how the future will be, not looking into a looking glass or crystal ball, because the future is not there, ready waiting for us – it is for us to imagine, to conceive, to fight for, and to make a reality.

The most important part of the exhibition was the Blue Skies dome at the end of the show. It was where we penned our wishes and our dreams, not just for ourselves, but for Singapore and we cast them up into the sky to share with one another. 

It was the part that many visitors found the most engaging. When I read what people had written, it gave me confidence and hope for our future. Let me quote a few of the wishes from the young: Xin Lin, who is 16, said: “A nation that never forgets the disadvantaged and disabled community even as we progress into the future”. Syafaah and Haniesa, two students from Madrasah Wak Tanjong wrote: “Technology can be divisive.  We hope that technology in the future will be integrative and will bring people together instead”. Also messages from our seniors, because the future is also their legacy. Wen Cheng, who is 71: “That we will remain a people who value integrity and more interaction in character-building than material things”. Lily, 62 years old: “Inculcate in young people to have a grateful and thankful heart for what we have, have good character instead of pursuing after just achievements”.

So our people understand that Singapore is not just about beautiful towns and parks, although those are valuable too, or a technologically advanced Smart Nation. 

But Singapore is made up of our hopes, our dreams and our aspirations, for ourselves, for our families, for one another and our collective will to make our aspirations a reality.

So when I went to the Blue Skies Dome again recently to take a look to see how the exhibition was doing, I wrote a simple wish for Singapore in Chinese “前程万里!” 

May our journey ahead be without limit and filled with possibilities. Thank you very much. 

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