PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Message
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered his National Day Message today (Aug 8). Here is his speech in full:
I am speaking to you from the new SAFRA clubhouse in Toa Payoh. This is where SAFRA built its very first clubhouse in 1975. We have just rebuilt it with better facilities for NSmen and your families. It is a small gesture to thank you for your many contributions and sacrifices. It is also an example of how we are upgrading our amenities and environment as Singapore develops, year by year.
We have made steady progress this past year. We have cleared the queue for HDB flats, stabilised BTO prices and tightened up on property speculation and excessive borrowing. We have added more buses and increased the number of bus routes. We are trying out free early morning MRT rides into the city. We will add more trains to the existing lines. Phase One of the Downtown Line will open in December, and more MRT lines after that. We also celebrated several successes in the arts and sports, including our LionsXII team winning the Malaysian Super League.
We are tackling longer term issues too, especially marriage and parenthood, as well as population. The White Paper on Population in January provoked strong reactions, but the debate helped us to understand the issues better. We face difficult choices: We need foreign workers to serve our economy and Singaporeans’ needs, and immigrants to make up for our shortfall of babies. But we also worry about crowding and congestion, and maintaining our Singaporean identity. So we are feeling our way forward carefully, conscious both of our needs and our limits, and seeking the best outcome for Singaporeans.
Our economy is holding steady amidst global uncertainties. We are attracting more quality investments. Unemployment remains low. We grew by 2.0 per cent in the first half of 2013, and expect to grow by 2.5 to 3.5 per cent this year, higher than previously expected. Even as we tighten up on foreign workers and immigration, we must maintain investor confidence and keep Singapore open for business.
The world is changing rapidly and unpredictably. Technology is transforming our lives. Societies everywhere feel under pressure: Jobs have become less secure, wages are rising more slowly or even stagnating, families are working harder, and parents worry whether their children will do better than themselves.
Singapore is changing too. The economy is maturing and our population is ageing. Different groups in society now have more diverse and even conflicting interests. Older Singaporeans worry about healthcare and costs of living. Younger ones aspire to wider education opportunities and more affordable homes.
Our road ahead will be different from the road we have travelled. So we must reassess our position, review our direction, and refresh our strategies to thrive in this new world.
In my Message last year, I said that Singapore should always be our best Home, with Heart and Hope. We launched Our Singapore Conversation to define our shared future together. Many have participated actively and passionately. We heard many valuable suggestions. Thank you for taking part in this effort.
Our Singapore Conversation has helped us crystallise what we aspire to: A Singapore which gives its citizens opportunities to succeed and live fulfilling lives. A nation which defines success in many ways, and offers multiple paths to many peaks. A society with safety nets that give people peace of mind. A community where the disadvantaged get help, and those who have done well in turn do more to help others.