For the English translation of the Chinese speech, please scroll down or click here.
* * * * *
其实，政府也一直通过各种政策，稳定物品价格。例如，1973年，职总成立了NTUC Welcome超市，也就是今天的职总平价集团。它的使命，就是确保新加坡人能够买到，价格实惠的日常必需品。50 年后的今天，平价集团已经是本地超市的老大哥。它发挥了带头的作用，把物品价格维持在合理的水平，让人民能够继续买到价廉物美的东西。这使到其他超市不得不向它看齐，也提供自家品牌和各种优惠。
要减少生活开销，我们在购物的时候也可以精打细算。很多家庭主妇、 Uncle 和Aunty懂得货比三家，知道东西要到哪一家超市买，要在哪一天买，才最便宜。他们可以，今天去职总平价，明天去昇菘，后天去Giant。一些人很厉害，会用应用程序例如 Price Kaki，或通过一些群聊，查看哪里有最好的 “lobang”。如果你是建国一代、立国一代，或持有蓝色的CHAS卡，星期一到星期五，去不同的超市，天天都有折扣。为了家庭，人们省钱不落人后，要买到最划算的日用品，这样才对得起自己的钱包。所以说，只要大家做一点功课，还是能买到比较便宜的东西。
除了帮助年长人士为退休做好准备，我们也必须关心大家的健康。大家上了年纪都多少会出现一些毛病，尤其是如果年轻时没有照顾好身体。就可能有三高，也开始这里痛，那里痛。走不快 、看不清、 耳不灵、 睡不好。人到了晚年，如果身患多病或是病情严重，无法照顾自己，甚至要长期住院，这对自己和家人都是很辛苦的。首先，金钱的负担肯定不少。把辛苦一辈子赚来的钱，花在吃药住院，就得不偿失了。同时，在家里照顾年老的病患，对整家人来说，是身心劳累的事。算来算去、健康还是排第一。
政府会提供各种津贴减低你们的医药费。推行健康SG计划，卫生部在预防疾病方面的开销将会增加。这是为了让你们老来活得更加健康，长期帮助你减轻医药负担，也希望可以减缓国家医药开支的增长。所以，请你协助我们一起照顾自己的健康，以便有更多的时间和家人共享天伦之乐。我再次呼吁大家报名参加健康SG计划。请牢记：健康是宝 预防最好 你我家人没烦恼。
今年是李光耀先生的百年冥诞，我们在缅怀李先生的同时，也应当铭记他的教诲。李先生最在乎的，是要新加坡人牢牢记得我们赖以生存的硬道理。首先，永远不让腐败的政治在这里出现。同时，维持最高的廉政标准，使新加坡能够一直运行下去。有了这个基础，我们才能实现核心的治国理念 - 人人平等，唯才是用、帮助国人施展才华，精益求精、发展经济，提升大家的生活、建设一个多元种族的和谐社会。
* * * * *
National Day Rally 2023 – Chinese Speech (English Translation)
Good evening, my fellow Singaporeans. Over the last three years, through the pandemic, we stayed united, and overcame challenges. Life has returned to normal. We are organising National Day Dinners once again, to celebrate National Day. Some Singaporeans have developed the good habit of wearing masks when they have a cold or flu, protecting themselves and others.
Cost of Living
But even as we emerge from the pandemic, geopolitical tensions are rising and the international economic situation is uncertain. Prices are soaring globally, resulting in higher inflation.
To reduce the burden of rising costs on Singaporeans, the Government has given out various subsidies. Last year, I used a calendar to show you the support that a Singaporean household living in a 3-room HDB flat would receive. This included U-Save and S&CC rebates, CDC vouchers, cash payouts and Medisave top-ups, amongst others. The Government gave out different subsidies to help low-income families almost every month. Other Singaporeans also received subsidies. Everyone should have received them.
We also have a calendar this year. Like the past year, Government will continue to provide various subsidies almost monthly. In August, we have cash payouts. There are subsidies in September; then U-Save and S&CC rebates in October and cash payouts again in December. In January next year, we will have CDC Vouchers again. In time for everyone to buy goodies for Chinese New Year. We have kept our promise to take care of Singaporeans.
We know that the GST hike this year has affected Singaporeans, so we rolled out the Assurance Package to alleviate the pressure on Singaporeans, especially middle- and lower-income families. Last year, as a result of the Government’s savings, we had a budget surplus. Therefore, in this year’s Budget, we further enhanced these support measures. The extra CDC Vouchers were very popular. I am glad that these measures have been effective and Singaporeans have benefitted from them.
From 1 January next year, we will adjust the GST to 9%. We will continue with the Assurance Package, as planned. I am confident it will be effective in buffering the impact of the adjustment to 9%. But I am sure you are wondering: could we further enhance the Assurance Package. So everyone gets a little more help? You asked me, so I asked Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.He said he will study it carefully. Let’s wait -- and of course, we hope for good news.
However, we must understand the Government cannot give out subsidies infinitely. The long-term solution is to make ourselves more productive, transform our businesses, and grow our economy. Then our real incomes can rise and we can all be better off.
Actually, the Government has been stabilising prices through various policies. In 1973, NTUC established NTUC Welcome, the predecessor of today’s NTUC FairPrice. Its social mission was to ensure that Singaporeans could purchase necessities at affordable prices. Fifty years later, FairPrice is now the largest local supermarket chain. It plays a leading role maintaining costs at a reasonable level, so Singaporeans can continue to buy affordable and good quality goods. As a result, other supermarkets have no choice but to emulate FairPrice by offering their own house brands and promotions.
To reduce daily expenses, we can make smart choices when purchasing daily necessities. Many Singaporeans know how to compare prices. They know which supermarket has the lowest price on which day for which item. They can go to NTUC FairPrice today, Sheng Siong tomorrow and Giant the day after. Some are expert, use mobile applications such as Price Kaki, or access chat groups to decipher where the best “lobangs” (deals) are. If you are from the Pioneer or Merdeka Generation, or hold a blue CHAS card, from Mondays to Fridays, you can go to different supermarkets and enjoy discounts everyday. Many people look out for money-saving hacks, and buy value-for-money necessities to keep their wallets full. So long as we shop wisely, we can still get our hands on cheaper items.
I know that there is one group that is particularly concerned about the cost of living. They are people who are approaching retirement -- those who are now in their 50s and early 60s. Among them, some have ageing parents as well as children, and they worry if they have sufficient savings for retirement. I understand the concerns of this sandwiched generation. You have to provide for both your aged parents as well as children who may not be graduating so soon. The various subsidies provided by the Government can help you deal with the cost of living. But you may still be worried you do not have sufficient savings for your future retirement. This is because your income when you were younger was not as high as younger Singaporeans today. You also had a shorter runway to benefit from Singapore’s economic growth compared to the younger generation. I understand your concerns. The Government will help alleviate your financial burden and provide targeted assistance. So you can be less anxious about your retirement.
I will elaborate in my English speech later.
Apart from helping seniors prepare for retirement, we must also care for everyone’s health. All of us will face health issues as we get older, especially if we did not take care of ourselves when we were younger. We may have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and body aches. Or have mobility issues, not be able to see or hear clearly and not sleeping well. In old age, suffering from multiple diseases or serious illnesses will mean you may be unable to take care of yourself. You may even have to be hospitalised for a prolonged period. This can be very difficult for you and your family. Firstly, there would certainly be a significant financial burden. It is not worth your while to spend your hard-earned money on medical expenses. At the same time, caring for aged patients at home is physically and mentally strenuous for the whole family. Whichever way you think about this, remember health comes first.
Therefore, prevention is better than cure. To help Singaporeans maintain their physical and mental well-being, the Ministry of Health launched “Healthier SG” last month. My wife and I have enrolled. Healthier SG is a major change for our healthcare system. The Government is shifting the focus to disease prevention. We encourage everyone to have a regular family doctor. Apart from providing medical consultations, your doctor can also customise a healthcare plan for you. In addition, your family doctor would also keep in regular contact with you to assess your well-being.
I understand many are still reluctant to visit the doctor regularly. Some, though feeling unwell, dare not visit the doctor for fear of hearing bad news. I hope you can change your mind. Visit your doctor regularly; listen to their advice; and develop good habits to take care of your health.
The Government will provide various subsidies to reduce your medical bills. With the implementation of Healthier SG, the Ministry of Health will increase its spending on preventive care. This would enable you to age well and spend less on your medical bills over the long run. Hopefully, in this way, we can slow down the growth of our country’s overall healthcare spending. So please help us take care of your health so you can have more enjoyable moments with your family. Please sign up for Healthier SG. Keep in mind: “Health is precious, and prevention is key to ensuring our families do not worry”.
The COVID-19 pandemic over three years was a serious crisis. We faced the challenge calmly, responded rationally, and worked together as one to overcome the crisis.
Singapore was among the first few countries to emerge from the crisis and recover quickly. Singapore Airlines is flying high again, and the crowds are back at Changi Airport. Many tourists travel here, and many Singaporeans are travelling abroad.
Investors saw how we performed during the pandemic and gained more confidence in Singapore. We attracted many new investments through the crisis and after, economic activity has increased here. As a global financial hub, we are flourishing more than before. We have also strengthened our position as a regional hub for technology, R&D and logistics.
All these did not happen by chance. It was because we planned ahead and maintained mutual trust between the Government and Singaporeans, working closely with each other to turn our dreams into reality.
Recent events involving political figures have made some Singaporeans uneasy. They wonder if there is something wrong with our system. No system is perfect. Whether these events would be a blow to Singapore depends on how we respond. I and my team will definitely do our utmost to maintain Singapore’s clean and effective political system and our reputation for incorruptibility.
Our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew dealt with similar situations decisively. I have dealt with these matters in the same way. I believe my successor will do so too.
This year is the 100th anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s birth. Even as we remember him, we should also remember his guidance. Mr Lee thought that it was important to always remember certain hard truths if our country is to survive. First, never allow our politics to become corrupt. At the same time, maintain the highest standards of integrity, so Singapore can continue to function well. With this as the foundation, we can implement our core values: Equality and meritocracy; bring out the best in our people and strive for excellence; grow our economy to improve the lives of Singaporeans; and build a multiracial and harmonious society.
What Singapore is today is due to the perseverance and determination of our founding fathers. Let us uphold the nation-building ideals of our founding fathers. So Singapore can continue to prosper and progress, brave the winds and storms that come our way, and still strive for a better tomorrow.