National Day Rally 2014 Speech (Chinese)

National Day Rally 2014 Speech (Chinese)

17 August 2014 | ITE College Central

总理华语群众大会演讲 2014

 

PM Lee Hsien Loong delivered his National Day Rally speech on 17 August 2014 at the Institute of Technical Education College Central. He spoke in Malay and Chinese, followed by English. Here is the transcript of the Malay speech in full. For the video with sign language interpretation, please scroll down to the bottom of the page.

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各位同胞,大家晚上好!

新加坡建国至今,快到半个世纪了。49年前,我们这个小岛国与马来西亚分家。一时之间,我们前途茫茫,必须在很狭小的空间寻找生机。我们全力发展经济,大力推动工业化。

在建国初年,政府的财政几乎一无所有。我们没有什么社会福利,没有各类的援助配套、花红。李光耀先生当年不厌其烦地说,我们必须自力更生、刚强勇猛。

幸好,建国的那一代新加坡人,确实是刚强勇猛、吃得苦中苦的人上人。而且,他们还懂得顾全大局,牺牲小我。他们日夜劳作,不知道什么是生活和工作平衡。他们往往必须靠一份非常微薄的薪水养活一家大小。为了培养下一代,他们吃尽了苦头。

今年二月,我们主办了一个向建国一代致敬的活动。我在这场活动中跟许多前辈见面。每一位前辈的人生经验,都让我敬佩。其中一位是87岁的王亚运奶奶。王奶奶在1948年从广东来到新加坡。当时,她只有21岁。她不认识字,只会讲广东话。为了谋生,她到建筑工地干活,开始了她44 年的红头巾生涯。在工地里,从早到晚,年复一年,做的是非常粗重的工作。她得挑着一桶一桶的水泥和沙。当时没有电梯;她必须弯着腰,把这些材料搬运上楼。王奶奶和她那一代人,便是如此一瓦一砖的,把今天的新加坡建起来。谢谢您,王奶奶!

没有刻苦耐劳的建国一代,就没有今天的新加坡。我在去年的群众大会上说,我们应该饮水思源,用一个恰当的方式,向建国一代表达我们的一份谢意。经过一年的策划和工作,我们推出了一个特别配套,希望能为建国前辈带来生活上的帮助。

我手上拿着的就是已经寄给大家的福利包。我想不少前辈们应该已经收到了。如果还没有收到,请放心,就快送上门来了。福利包里面的资料,介绍的是整个配套的细节。当然,其中最重要的一样东西,就是这张建国一代卡。这张白底带红的卡,有些报章把它称为“红卡”。不过,这不是大家在世界杯看到的红卡,虽然它的“威力”也相当大!因为你有了这张红卡,你就能享有更多的津贴。例如,你到社保计划CHAS私人诊所和牙科诊所看病时,比其他用蓝卡的病人少付$10。如果你到综合诊疗所、政府牙科诊所、政府医院专科诊所看病,都有补助。加上,这张卡没有限期,终身都可以使用。所以说,这张是卡中之王!当然,我希望你们不需要经常用这张卡。最好能保持健康,做一个活跃的乐龄人士。请大家一定要收好这张卡,跟身份证放在一起,不要弄丢了,因为这是国家对你们表达的一份心意。

我们应该在先辈们建立的基础上,更上一层楼,绝对不能安于现状,停滞不前。

不论是哪一代人,我们的愿望是一样的:那就是为子孙创造更好的生活。我们现在面对的是一个全新的大环境,而且变化也很快。政府会帮助人民应付环境的改变,特别是年长一辈和弱势群体。所以,去年我就宣布了两项新措施:建国一代配套,以及终身健保计划 (MediShield-Life)。这些措施着重于帮助人民–尤其是年长人士–应付医药费。这是我们能够给予老年人的最为实际的帮助。这也能减轻老人家孩子的负担。

政府的另一个大目标,就是确保大家有足够的退休金,可以安享晚年。这个可以通过两大政策来达到:第一,公积金制度;第二,是我们的住屋政策。

大家都知道,公积金计划带来不少的好处,因为它是一个让我们一边工作,一边储蓄的养老制度。不过,公积金的实际运作,大家可能并不熟悉。所以,待会儿我在英语演讲时,就会进一步的解释。在这里,让我先谈一谈几个重点。

公积金可以帮助我们养老,也可以应付其他需求,如住房、医疗保健,孩子的高等教育费等。一些国人认为,到了55岁,他们应该有使用公积金存款的自由。工作了半辈子,应该是苦尽甘来的时候,应该可以自由动用公积金,去做自己想做的事。这样的想法,是人之常情,我是可以理解的。但是,我担心的是,万一人们一不小心,把储蓄花完了,接下来的二、三十年,要怎么活下去呢?我在接见选民的时候,就经常碰到年长人士前来诉苦。他们说自己的储蓄用到七七八八,快要花完了,生活成了问题。他们走投无路,所以只好来找议员。议员当然会尽量帮助他们,尤其是本来就很贫困的人士。不过,议员无法有求必应,有时的确是爱莫能助。

议员们碰到的,除了花光储蓄的选民之外,也有一些要求更灵活使用公积金的居民。张思乐就碰到了这样的居民:一位60多岁的大姐。现在我年纪大了,60多岁的,叫做大姐。大姐告诉张思乐:现在样样东西都起价,钱不夠用。她问:政府为什么紧紧收住我的公积金?我都老了,不知道会活到几时,可能明天就走了;现在就把钱还给我。张思乐回答说:大姐,你的精神这么好,肯定健康长寿。他也说:政府是为大家着想,使大家老了以后不必为钱烦恼,担心沒钱还这个、还那个。大姐回应说:多谢了,但是,还是请你让我取回我的公积金吧,不用你们操心。张思乐就问:你是不是现在就想把你和你老公的公积金,全部都提出来?这笔钱花完之后,怎么办?大姐马上回答:还我的就好了。我老公的不要给他,他会乱花。

我看这里,我要替男人说几句公道话。我不认为所有的男人都会乱花钱。何况,这也不完全是会不会理财的问题。即使懂得理财的人,有时候也可能时运不济,生活陷入困境。因此,政府的用意,是为人民的晚年生活带来基本的保障。

我们将调整公积金制度,使它更加完善,更加灵活,更可以好好的帮助人民。在这方面,我们要在两个目标之间取得新的平衡:一方面,设法让人们更灵活使用公积金;但是另一方面,我们也必须确保有足够的公积金,让国人退休以后,可以定期拿到一笔钱,绝对不会达到身无分文的地步。

另一个能够保障国人晚年生活的,是居者有其屋计划。对一般新加坡人来说,房子是一笔很可观的资产。如果你拥有一间三房式的政府组屋,就等于拥有大约三十万的储蓄;四房式,等于四十万的储蓄,有些更多。屋主可以利用这套房子换取一笔养老的现金。比如,屋主可以出租一间空房;他也可以把整间屋子租出去,跟孩子一起住。年长人士也可以大屋换小屋,同时享受乐龄安居花红 (Silver Housing Bonus)。这样,不但可以套现一笔相当可观的现款,每个月还可以领取一笔钱,终身受用。

我们会继续调整这些措施,尽量帮助国人利用房子来养老。所以,整体来说,一个家庭只要有公积金和一套组屋,到了晚年便应该可以应付基本的生活开支了。

政府除了照顾老年人和弱势群体,也没有忽略其他新加坡人的需要。每年的财政预算案,都有措施帮助上有父母,下有孩子的夹心层。这包括消费税补助券、乐龄花红、水电费回扣、幼稚园津贴,高等教育和大学助学金等等,种类繁多,不胜枚举。有些津贴,是直接转进你的银行户头的。请大家多留意,不然,钱存进去了,你都不知道。你用了,也可能没发觉。

中年人士所关心的,除了年迈父母的健康,还有孩子的教育和前途。所以,政府除了帮助照顾年老的长辈之外,也十分注重打造一个机遇处处的大环境,使年轻人可以追求梦想,发挥才华。我们要让国人对未来充满信心和希望。无论你处在哪一个起跑点,都有机会提升自己。

政府一直来都非常重视教育,为年轻一代提供不断进修、深造的机会。经过多年的努力,我国的大学、理工学院、工艺教育学院,都建立了良好的国际口碑,都培养出高水平、有技能、可以找到工作的毕业生。我们的社会也十分重视教育。每位父母都希望孩子升上大学,成龙成凤。理工学院和工教院的学生,毕业后也都希望能继续提升自己。

政府将帮助更多学生实现这个愿望。可是,我们也必须注意到不少国家的情况:大学生过多,人浮于事。而且,某些学科的毕业生在找工作时,没有工作,英雄无用武之地。所以,在这问题上,我要跟大家坦白讲几句话,分享我的看法,希望大家考虑一下。

我们应该承认一个事实:每个人的倾向和天赋不同,不是人人都适合念大学。而且,不是每一张大学文凭,都有同样的价值。所以,你有了大学文凭,也不一定能在职场上平步青云。

幸好,不是每一份良好的工作,都需要大学资格。所以,你的孩子不一定要念了大学,才能够有光明的前途。最近我和几个新加坡企业家共餐,跟他们讨论了如何提升员工的问题。他们告诉我,有些工作所需要的常识,只能从实践中吸取,在课室里不一定学得到。我告诉他们,从政也是这样:你可以读政治课,可是除非你亲自参与,为人民服务,你没办法体验到这是什么一回事。这些雇主也表示,他们提拔员工时,更看重实际的工作经验和能力,有没有大学文凭是其次。

其中一位老板–牧野亚洲公司的总裁莫壮涛博士–就跟我分享了他的一位员工,洪健华的例子。洪健华今年31岁。他在中学时,修读了N水准课程,接着在工教院完成了高级 NITEC的课程。健华在工教院毕业后,就在牧野公司找到第一份工作,从一位技术工人做起。这些年来,他在公司一边工作,一边学习。今年四月,他完成了理工文凭。现在,已经升任为专门技师了。我希望健华再接再厉,掌握更多新技能,不断提升自己,前途无量。

所以,在职场上一边工作,一边学习,也可以出人头地。这就像古代学武之人,也是从学徒扎马步学起,经过多年的磨练,最后才可以修炼成大师。在现实生活里,许多一流的厨师、发型师、演艺工作者和商人,他们都没有大学文凭,不过他们的成就不会输给大学生。

政府的教育目标,是要让人们按照自己的兴趣、专长和天赋,追求一个适合自己的学习道路,使自己的才华得到最充分的发挥。我相信,行行都能够出状元。最重要的是,必须要有敬业乐业的精神。我们也应该尊重每个行业、每位员工,重视他们的经验,他们的技能,他们的贡献,他们的人格。我们不应该用一个人的学历来衡量他的终生价值,他的社会地位,或者他的成就。

我们要为新加坡人创造更广泛和更好的学习机会。因此,我委任了英兰妮部长带领ASPIRE委员会,检讨理工学院和工教院的应用学习教育,开拓毕业生的职业发展前途,让毕业生在职场上能发挥他们的潜能,获取优良的待遇和事业的发展。我们希望跟雇主配合,为员工制定一个有系统的职业规划,协助他们不断学习新技能,提升素质和水平,逐步登上事业和人生的高峰。

要有好的生活,一定要有蓬勃的经济,这样我们才能为大家创造更多优质的就业机会。否则,即使国人接受了高等教育,掌握了技能,没有好的工作,他们还是无法施展才华。所以,我们要进一步拓展国内和国际商机,特别是亚洲新兴的经济体,包括日益重要的中国市场。

2007年,我们成立了通商中国这个平台,协助新加坡企业掌握中国的商机。通商中国最近主办了第5届慧眼中国环球论坛。这是一个促进新中企业交流的平台,加深新加坡企业对中国的了解。今年我就出席了环球论坛的一个对话会。有人问我-是一个中国的企业家:新加坡政府打算如何促进中新两国创业者之间的合作?我告诉他,政府只能够做红娘,通过环球论坛这样的平台,让双方相聚相识,希望双方谈得来,情投意合,展开合作。只要有了喜事,我们就心满意足了。所以有意在中国发展的商家,不妨参加明年的慧眼中国环球论坛。我是通商中国的赞助人,所以有义务替通商中国打打广告。

其实,不少新加坡公司的中国业务,成绩已经很不错了。政府的支持,是一个有利的条件。不过,另一个因素是新加坡华族,因为文化背景相近,并且具备双语能力,所以更容易融入中国社会。为了把握好这个机遇,我们要让年轻一代对自己的文化有足够的认识,协助他们跟国际舞台接轨,同时扎根于新加坡,扎根于母族文化。

一直以来,政府都不遗余力支持民间组织,推广华族文化和母语教育。在这方面,我们的宗乡会馆就做了很多工作,积极提倡文化和教育事业。两年前,宗乡总会提出了设立华族文化中心的构想,我马上表示支持,鼓励他们尽快做。现在,这个构想已经取得很大的进展。这个现代化的雄伟建筑-现在只是一个蓝图-就是新的华族文化中心。它将设在新加坡大会堂后面。下个月,我们已经选了一个良辰吉日,举行动土仪式。

在此,我要特别感谢蔡天宝会长的领导。同时,我也要感谢我的老同学朱添寿先生,因为他答应出任文化中心总裁。谢谢你们两位。添寿是艺术界的老将,曾经领导艺术理事会和南洋艺术学院,经验丰富,一定能胜任文化中心的新职务。这是华社一个意义深远的计划,政府会全力支持。我希望所有支持华族文化的国人积极参与,一起来完成建馆的工作。

华族文化中心所推广的文化,除了传统和现代中华文化,也将涵盖新加坡独特的华族文化。经过多年的酝酿,新加坡华族文化已经逐渐形成一种南洋风格。比如,我们有了新加坡式的华族舞蹈。我国资深的舞蹈家严众莲老师,自己办了学校。她在传统的舞蹈中融入了其它民族的风格。在国外表演的时候,这样的新加坡式华族舞蹈非常受欢迎。

新加坡华乐团的情况也是这样。它已经发展成为具有多元文化特色的华乐团。它虽然以传统的华乐乐器演奏,不过它的表演体现了独特的“南洋风”,声名远播。六月底,新加坡华乐团联合本地各个华乐团体,在全新的体育城举行了一场别开生面的音乐会。这是当晚的照片,你可以从照片看到,场地挤满了表演者和观众,票都卖完了。这场音乐会创下了最多表演者的世界纪录。

新谣也是新加坡文化另一个独特的代表。80年代,新谣盛行。这是当时许多年轻人美好的集体记忆。我还记得在1987年,参加蒙巴登区的一场新谣音乐会。我为什么记得呢?因为那个时候,我的小儿子刚刚出世,有点应接不暇,不过还是应约出席。当晚下着毛毛雨,我们就撑着雨伞听歌,欣赏着优美的新谣旋律,和许多年轻人的热情表演。我还记得,跟这几位大头娃娃拍了一张照。娃娃继续年轻,我已经头发白了。

我很高兴本地再次刮起了新谣风。最近在百胜楼举行的新谣分享会,全场爆满。尽管下着大雨,到场支持的歌友们热情不减。他们当中有年纪较大的,也有年纪轻,跟着父母一起来的新生代。新谣的旋律动听,歌词朗朗上口,充满了本地生活色彩,确实温暖了不少人的心房。

新谣歌曲中,我最喜欢的是《小人物的心声》,也最熟悉。在国庆庆典上,很高兴有机会跟大家一起唱。因为它很有意思:小人物也有小人物的贡献。很多人告诉我,他们也很喜欢梁文福的《细水长流》。我去听了,觉得也很有意思。细水长流的开头是这么唱的:“年少时候 谁没有梦 无意之中 你将心愿透露”。听这首歌的时候,我就想:是的,年少时候,谁没有梦?在新加坡,不论老少,大家都可以做梦,还有很多实现梦想的机会,即使你不是什么大人物。

过去半个世纪以来,我们细水长流。每个小人物都在打拼,结果共同成就了一番大事业。建国一代默默耕耘,前辈们贡献了他们的力量,一起创造了今天繁荣昌盛的新加坡,一个值得大家自豪珍惜的国家。现在,轮到我们为下一代,打造一个更美好的家园,更光明的未来。

新加坡独立的时候,我们很难想象,也不敢想象,这个小岛国能取得那么巨大的成就。今天,我们已经成为第一世界国家,但是,我们还没有发展到极限;我们还有无限的发展空间。我们需要的是先辈那种勇于开拓、积极进取的精神,新加坡才能攀上另一个高峰。所以,让我们朝着这个方向一起前进,共同努力!

谢谢大家!

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English Translation of Chinese Speech

Good evening everyone!

It is nearly half a century since Singapore became independent.  49 years ago, this little island separated from Malaysia.  Overnight, our future became uncertain.  We learnt to survive with little room to manoeuvre and we focused our energies on industrialising our economy.

During the early years of independence, there was nearly nothing in the Government’s budget.  We did not have social welfare or support packages to speak of.  The mantra of leaders from Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s generation was that we need to rely on ourselves and be rugged.

Fortunately, Singapore’s Pioneer Generation was indeed rugged and endured much hardship. They put Singapore’s interests first, and made personal sacrifices when necessary. They worked all the time; there was no work-life balance to speak of. Often, they had to raise large families on meagre salaries.  They suffered a lot, for the sake of their next generation.

In February this year, we organised a Pioneer Generation Tribute Party at the Istana.  I met many pioneers at the Party. Each had moving and impressive life stories. Among them was 87 years old Madam Wong Ah Woon. In 1948, she came to Singapore from Guangdong. She was only 21, illiterate and spoke only Cantonese. To earn a living, she found work at the construction site, and started her 44-year career as a Samsui woman. She did back breaking work at the site, all day long, throughout the year.  She carried pails of cement and sand.  There were no lifts: she had to bend her back and lug the materials up the building.  Madam Wong and her generation built up Singapore, brick by brick. Thank you Madam Wong!

Without the hardworking Pioneer Generation, Singapore will not be what it is today.  At last year’s NDR, I said that we should be grateful to our Pioneer Generation, and find a meaningful way to express our appreciation.  After a year of planning, we have launched a special package, which we hope will be useful for the Pioneer Generation (PG).

Here is the PG package which has been sent to our pioneers. I think many of our seniors would have received it   If you haven’t received it, don’t worry, it is on its way. The details of the package are inside.  The most important part of the package is this PG card.  Some journalists call it the “red card”. This is not the “red card” issued at the World Cup, but it is just as powerful! With this red card, you will enjoy more subsidies, e.g. $10 less at CHAS clinics and dental clinics (compared to blue CHAS card holders), more discounts at Polyclinics, government dental clinics and Specialist Outpatient Clinics.  This card has no expiry; you can use it for life. It is the King of cards! Still, we hope you don’t have to use it often.  Better to stay healthy and be an active ager. Please keep it carefully. Keep it with your IC, and don’t lose it.  This is a gesture of our appreciation.

We should build on our forefathers’ foundations, and do better. We should not rest on our laurels and stop moving ahead.

We share a common dream: To give the next generation better lives.  We are in a new environment, and it is changing rapidly.  Government will help people to cope with the changes, especially our elderly and vulnerable.  Therefore, last year, I announced two new policies: Pioneer Generation Package and MediShield-Life.  These measures will help our people, especially the elderly, with their medical bills.  It is what the elderly need. This will also lighten their children’s burden.

Government’s other goal is to help everyone to have enough for retirement.  There are two pillars of retirement savings: First, CPF; and second, home ownership.

Everyone has heard of the CPF and its benefits.  CPF helps us save as we work.  But fewer are familiar with how the CPF works exactly. I will say more in my English speech later. Here, I will touch on a few key points.

CPF can help us with our retirement and life’s needs  e.g. housing, healthcare, education etc.   Some feel that at 55, they would like to withdraw their CPF.  After working for many years, some would like to use their CPF to pursue a dream or lifelong desire.  This is to be expected and I fully understand. But I am concerned: If people spent all their savings, what will they do for the next 20, 30 years? At my MPS, I frequently see seniors who are in trouble.  They have used up their savings, and can’t make ends meet. They are desperate, so they see their MP.  MPs would do their best to help, especially the needy, but sometimes, MPs are not able to do everything.

Apart from meeting residents who have spent their savings, MPs have also come across residents who would like more flexibility in how they use their CPF.  Teo Ser Luck met such a resident, a woman in her 60s.

Resident: Prices are going up.  We don’t have enough money. Why is Government holding on to my CPF? I am getting old, and I don’t know how I will live.

Ser Luck: You look very healthy, surely you will live long.  Government wants to make sure that you have money for your retirement

Resident: Thanks but no thanks.  Just return me the money, and you don’t have to worry.

Ser Luck: If we return you and your husband, all your CPF savings, and it runs out, what will you do?

Resident: Just return my CPF money. Don’t give it back to my husband, he will spend it all!

Here, I should say that not all men will spend their CPF savings recklessly.  Furthermore, it is not about managing finances either.  Because even if you know how to manage, you may get into trouble.  What the Government wants to do, is to offer the best protection for people’s retirement.

Government will refine the CPF system, to make it work better for you.  We need to strike a new balance between allowing more flexible use of the CPF, and ensuring that the CPF continues to provide a steady stream of income in retirement, so that no one will be left penniless.

Home ownership is another pillar of retirement adequacy. For Singaporeans, the flat is a valuable asset.  Those who own a 3-room HDB flat, would have about $300,000 of savings in the flat; a 4-room flat, would have about $400,000 of savings.  Some may have more. Home owners can unlock the savings in their flats in many ways. They can rent out a room or more, or move in with their children and rent out the whole flat.  Seniors can take up the Silver Housing Bonus and “right-size” their flat.  The seniors can earn a large sum of cash and receive monthly payouts for life.

We will refine the policies and help our seniors to use their flats to fund part of the retirement.  So long as a family has CPF savings and a flat, they should be able to meet basic living expenses.

Besides the elderly and vulnerable groups, Government has not neglected the needs of the other Singaporeans.  In every Budget, there are schemes to help the sandwiched group. These include GST Voucher, Seniors’ Bonus, U-Save rebates, S&CC discounts, and Education subsidies. There are many schemes.  Some of these rebates are credited into your account.  Please check that the money has been credited.

For the middle aged, the burden is not light as they have to look after aging parents and worry about their children’s education. Apart from taking care of the seniors, another way for Government to help is to create opportunities.  So that the young can pursue their dreams, and develop their talent.  We want our people to be confident and hopeful about the future.  Wherever you start from, you will have opportunities to rise.

Education is important to Government.  Government will provide the young with opportunities to upgrade and further their studies.  After years of hard work, our universities, polytechnics and ITEs, they are recognised internationally as institutions of excellence, and produce graduates who are well-trained, highly skilled and employable.  Education is important to many people.  Parents would like their children to go to university.  Poly and ITE graduates would like to further their studies too.

Government will help more students to realise their dream, but I noticed quite a few countries have produced many graduates.  Many cannot find jobs. Their degrees may not be relevant to the market.  Therefore, I would like offer my views on this issue.

It is a fact that everyone has different interests and aptitudes.  Not everyone is suited for the university track.  Furthermore, not all university degrees have the same value.  A university degree does not guarantee a smooth career.

Fortunately, many good jobs do not require university degrees.  So children need not go on the university route to have a bright future.  I had lunch with some SME bosses recently and we discussed the issue of upgrading of employees.                  These bosses said that some knowledge of the job can only be learnt on the job, it cannot be learnt in school.  They said that when it comes to promotion, the main consideration is practical experience and ability, and not whether the staff has a university degree.

One of the bosses was Dr Moh Chong Tau of Makino Asia.  He shared the example of his employee Ang Kian Hua (31). Kian Hua did N levels at secondary school and then Higher NITEC at ITE.  After graduating from ITE, he found his first job as a technician at Makino Asia.  Over the years, he took courses while working.  After completing a Master Craftsman certification (which is equivalent to a poly diploma) in April this year, he was promoted to a Craftsman.  Hope Kian Hua keeps it up, and continues to master new skills and upgrade himself.

Working and learning is also a good pathway to upgrade and secure a better future.  Just like martial arts training.  You start with the basic horse stance.  After many years of practice and honing of the skill, you become a master.  In life, to become top chefs, hair stylists, performance artists or businessmen, you do not need university degrees. These people can do well in life, faring as well as graduates.

Our vision for education is to allow students to pursue their interests according to their ability and aptitude, and to find a learning pathway that can develop their talent to the fullest.  We believe everyone can excel in the job they choose.  It is vital that they respect the work they do and master their skills.  As a society, we should respect every job, every worker, and recognise their experience, skills and contributions.  We should not measure a person’s worth, social standing and achievement solely by their academic qualifications.

To help create more choices for education and better learning opportunities.  I appointed SMS Indranee Rajah to lead the ASPIRE committee, to review Polytechnic and ITE education. They will review how to open more pathways for their career progression, and help fulfil their potential and enhance their career prospects.   I hope employers will partner us by providing systematic on the job training and career planning, and help their employees to learn new skills, raise their standards, and achieve personal excellence.

For better lives, we need a vibrant economy to create many good quality jobs.  Otherwise, even if Singaporeans are highly educated and trained, without jobs, they are unable to give full play to their talent.  Therefore, we need to grow our domestic market and international networks, especially in Asia’s emerging economies, such as China.

In 2007, we created a new platform, Business China, to help Singapore enterprises seize the business opportunities in China and enter the Chinese market.  Business China recently organised the 5th FutureChina Global Forum.  The forum creates opportunities for businesses from Singapore and China to meet, and help Singapore businesses understand China.  I participated in a Forum dialogue.  A participant asked me, how did the Singapore government plan to facilitate more partnerships between entrepreneurs from the two countries? I told him we are only a matchmaker.  Through platforms like FutureChina, we create opportunities for businessmen from both countries to meet and interact.  If there are parties that share similar goals, can get along and form a partnership eventually, we would be happy with that. I would like to encourage those who are interested to do business with China to join us for the next FutureChina Global Forum.  I am the patron of Business China, so I am doing my duty to give them some free publicity.

Many Singapore companies have set up business in China, and done well.  Government support is one reason for their success.  Another reason is that Singaporean Chinese share a similar cultural background, are bilingual, and can integrate into Chinese society more quickly.   This gives us some advantage.  To take advantage of this opportunity, we need to help our young understand their own culture better, help them connect internationally, but remain rooted to Singapore and anchored to our culture.

Government has always supported groups that promote Chinese culture and mother tongue education.  Our clan associations have done much in this area.  Two years ago, the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) came up with the idea of creating a Singapore Chinese Culture Centre (SCCC).  I immediately gave it my support.  Much has been achieved since it was conceptualised.   The grand building in the slide is the new SCCC. It will be located behind the Singapore Conference Hall.  Its ground-breaking ceremony will be held next month.

I would like to thank SFCCA President, Mr Chua Thian Poh, for his leadership.  And my old classmate, Mr Choo Thiam Siew, for accepting the role as President of SCCC.  Thiam Siew is a leading light of the arts and cultural community.  He headed the National Arts Council and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.  With his rich experience, I am confident he will do well in his new role.  This is a significant project for the Chinese community.  Government will give its full support.  I encourage all who support Chinese culture to join in, and help us complete the SCCC building project.

SCCC will promote both traditional and modern Chinese culture, and Singapore’s unique Chinese culture.  After many years of nurturing, Singapore Chinese culture has taken shape as the “Nanyang” style. For example, Singapore Chinese Dance.  One of our leading dancers is Madam Yan Choong Lian, who started a dance school.  Apart from teaching traditional Chinese dance, she introduced elements of other cultures into the dances.  The Singapore-style dance performances are well received overseas.

Another example is the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.  It has become a multi-cultural Chinese orchestra.  While using traditional Chinese music instruments, they have made their mark with performances in “Nanyang” style.  In June, SCO with other Chinese orchestras, held a spectacular concert at the new Sports Hub.  You can see in the photograph that the stadium was packed with people and performers.  It also set a new world record of being the largest Chinese orchestra performance.

Xinyao is another example.  Made popular in the 80s, it is part of the fond collective memory of youth from that generation.   I remember attending a Xinyao concert in Mountbatten in 1987. My son had just been born so I was quite busy, but I attended the concert as promised.   It was drizzling. We enjoyed the concert under umbrellas.  I enjoyed the beautiful melodies and brilliant performances by the youths. I remember taking a photo with some performers dressed in big head doll costumes.  The dolls still look young, but my hair is now already white.

I am happy that there is now a Xinyao revival.  The Xinyao Concert at Bras Basah was packed to the brim.  Ardent supporters braved the rain to enjoy the concert.  There were supporters of all ages; some youngsters came with their parents.   XInyao has catchy melodies and beautiful lyrics.  It is full of local flavour, and is heart-warming.

My favourite Xinyao is “Voices of an Ordinary Guy”. We sang it at NDP 2014.  The song is meaningful as it is about how ordinary people can also make a contribution.  Many told me that they like a song by Liang Wern Fook, a pioneer of the Xinyao Movement, “Small Stream that Flows Forever”.  I listened to it and found it meaningful.

The song goes:   Who does not dream, when we are young?  You shared your dreams unintentionally with me.  Indeed, when we were young, who didn’t have dreams?  In Singapore, not only can you have dreams, you have the opportunities to realise them, even if you are ordinary.

Over the last century, our small stream has flowed continuously.  Each of us doing our ordinary bit, we have achieved something extraordinary together.  Every member of the Pioneer Generation worked hard and gave his all.  Together, they built a prosperous Singapore, a country that we treasure and can be proud of.   It is our turn now, to create a better home and brighter future for our next generation

At independence, we dared not dream and dared not imagine, what this little island can achieve.  Today, we have come a long way, from Third World to First. But we have not reached our limits; our opportunities are limitless. We must have the courage of our Pioneers; embrace their can-do spirit, to scale new peaks.  Let us come together to work for a better future.

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National Day Rally 2014 Chinese Speech (English dubbed + Sign Language)