Speech by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the National Citizenship Ceremony at Ang Mo Kio GRC - Sengkang West SMC on 31 August 2019.
Good morning to everybody, friends, residents, grassroots leaders, new citizens, ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to join you this morning for the Ang Mo Kio and Sengkang West Citizenship Ceremony here at ITE College Central.
First of all, let me congratulate all of you who officially become Singapore citizens today – a significant milestone in your lives, not a day you will ever forget.
It is especially significant because you are becoming Singapore citizens in this Bicentennial year, when we are reflecting on our history – how we became one people, and what it means to be Singaporean. Like you, all our ancestors came from distant lands. Eventually, they made the same fateful decision as you have: to sink their roots here, and make Singapore their home. And in time, I hope that you too will contribute more towards our multicultural and multiracial society, having made this journey “from Singapore to Singaporean”.
Taking up citizenship is a deep, personal commitment. As Mr S Rajaratnam, one of our Founding Fathers, once said, “being a Singaporean is not a matter of ancestry. It is conviction and choice”. You have made that choice – a decision that sets the course of your life, not just for yourself but also for your loved ones.
In fact, many of you have already become Singaporeans at heart. All of you have lived, worked or studied here for years, and in some cases, even started your families here. You have integrated into our society, adapted to our culture, learnt how to get along with neighbours, classmates, colleagues and friends. Now you have chosen to make Singapore your home and country, and today, we are very happy to formally welcome all of you into our family.
We value what you bring to Singapore. You have experience growing up and living in different lands. You may bring new skills and experience that can strengthen our economy. Your different perspectives, values and culture will certainly enrich our society. As you craft your life story, deepen your roots here and participate in our community life, you will contribute your bit to the Singapore story too.
That is how Singapore will progress – not only integrating new arrivals, but also evolving with you, absorbing some of your cultures and experiences, and enriching our unique Singaporean identity. So I am very glad that many of you are already actively involved in the community and grassroots organisations, doing your part to make a better Singapore.
Like Mdm Lai Thi Thanh Thao, who came to Singapore 16 years ago to study at NUS. Mdm Lai volunteered with Teck Ghee Zone J RC. She also uses her knowledge as a data scientist to help teach our elderly digital literacy. She has two adorable children too, growing up here who will hopefully – I am confident – contribute their part to Singapore.
Or Mr Rajasekaran Viknash, who has lived in Singapore since he was a primary school student. As a grassroots volunteer, Viknash has helped organise Lantern Night, walks to Marina Bay, trips to Malaysia, and also does house visits to help newcomers settle in to Teck Ghee. Having also been involved himself in previous citizenship ceremonies, today is finally Viknash’s own turn to receive his Singapore citizenship certificate and pink NRIC.
I hope all of you will be active and involved citizens like Mdm Lai and Viknash – immerse yourselves in the community, take part in our activities, contribute your experiences, know-how and enthusiasm. Work with other Singaporeans, care for one another, make friends, so that together we can make this an endearing home for all of us and for many generations to come.
Congratulations again and thank you very much.
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