National Day Message (English) delivered by PM Lee Hsien Loong

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 8 August 2010

Click here to view the video of PM Lee's National Day Message.

1.         My fellow Singaporeans,

2.         Our economy has rebounded strongly from last year’s recession. GDP grew 17.9% Y-on-Y in the first half of this year. Many jobs have been created, and unemployment is low.  Our workers can look forward to better wages, more overtime and higher bonuses this year

3.         Growth is likely to moderate in the second half. Still, MTI forecasts growth for the year to be between 13 and 15%. This exceptional performance is the fruit of Singaporeans’ united response during the crisis. This enabled us to take full advantage of improved global conditions.

4.         But let us not get carried away. Risks remain in the world economy, especially in Europe and the US. The global financial system is not fully mended. Singapore is small and open. If the world economy turns bad, we will be buffeted.  We need to stay vigilant and watch the developments worldwide.

5.         We cannot expect to repeat this year’s sterling performance year after year, but we can continue to grow our economy with sustained effort. We must invest in our people, upgrade our infrastructure and improve our productivity. Then we can take full advantage of opportunities in a booming Asia and prosper.

6.         Our goal is for all Singaporeans to enjoy the fruits of growth. When Singa­pore prospers, you will benefit from many government programmes: better designed HDB estates, higher quality schools and hospitals, more MRT lines and new places for recreation. But each one of us has to make the effort.  Every student must be keen to learn and go as far as you can.  Every worker must master the knowhow and skills to be productive and competitive. Every manager must train and motivate his staff to maximise their contribution and potential. Only then can Singaporeans do the better jobs that our economy will create, and enjoy higher incomes, brighter opportunities, and more fulfilling lives.

7.         The Government will support Singaporeans in this, by developing a first class education system for our young, and a comprehensive Continuing Education and Training (CET) programme to upgrade our workers.

8.         Our education system has been successful. A large majority of our students are progressing beyond school to post-secondary and tertiary institutions. Graduates from ITE, polytechnics and universities readily secure good jobs.

9.         Our education system caters to all students, and not just the most outstanding ones. Our schools go beyond book learning to teach students how to solve problems, and imbue them with sound moral values. We create multiple pathways for students of different abilities and interests to progress. We help every neighbourhood school to be a good school, with its own strengths and specialities. We identify and develop each student’s talents, and give him every opportunity to excel.

10.       We will continue to improve our education system.  We are recruiting and training more teachers, to enable us to deliver a more holistic and rounded education. We will help every school to offer something extra and different, and thus give students more good choices. We will create new peaks of excellence in ITEs, polytechnics and universities, to stretch our students. I ask parents and students to work with us, to give our youth the best start in life.

11.       Beyond schools, we must build up Continuing Education and Training. The Government is investing $5.5 billion over 5 years to do this. We are building two CET campuses in the East and West of Singapore, and introducing many schemes and incentives to help companies and workers improve their productivity.  I am glad employers and unions strongly support CET, because their support is crucial.

12.       We will develop and invest in our people, but we also need to reinforce the Singa­pore team with talent and numbers from abroad. This is critical to us. Other countries are not only much larger than us, but have far deeper pools of talent than we have. We must make up for the shortage of Singaporean workers in our economy and the shortfall of babies in our population. Without an inflow, over time our economy and society will lose vibrancy, our citizens will enjoy fewer opportunities, and our shining red dot will grow dimmer.

13.       I understand Singaporeans’ concerns about taking in so many foreign workers and immigrants. Some of us wonder: Will it change the ethos of our society? Will it mean more competition for us at work, or for our children in schools? Will the new arrivals strike roots here? Can they adjust to us, and we to them?

14.       These are valid concerns which we must address. We will control the inflow, to ensure that it is not too fast, and not too large. We will only bring in people who can contribute to Singapore, and work harder to integrate them into our society. And we will make clear that citizens come first. After all, we are doing this for the sake of Singaporeans.

15.       We cannot do without a proportion of foreign workers, or a continuing flow of PRs and new citizens. Let us welcome them with an open heart, help them to fit in and encourage those who will become citizens to strike roots here. If we do this well, by the next generation, their children will be native Singa­poreans. Remember, we ourselves are descendants of immigrants too. With new arrivals living and working harmoniously with those born here, we will keep Singapore dynamic, cosmopolitan, and successful.

16.       That is the face that Singapore must show the world during the Youth Olympic Games. Our cityscape will certainly wow the visitors. They will see the signature skyline at Marina Bay and our new downtown; the high quality public housing like The Pinnacle, where I am now; and the beautiful urban spaces and natural greenery all over the island.

17.       More importantly, we must impress with the spirit of our people.  At this first YOG, let us show the world what Singapore can do. Our athletes have been training hard. Our volunteers, 20,000 strong, stand ready to welcome our guests. Thousands of participants and guests will be arriving soon. I hope all Singaporeans will work together to put up a good show, and make the games memorable for all our visitors.

18.       On our 45th National Day, let us celebrate our achievements as one united people. We can be proud of what we have attained, but we must keep learning from others, improve in every area and strive hard to achieve our future goals. Tomorrow’s Singapore must be better than today’s.

19.       I wish all Singaporeans a Happy National Day.

. . . . .