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National Day Rally 2022: What you need to know — a summary of key topics

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s very survival depends on it having the right leaders who have integrity, dedication, competence and the conviction to do the right thing even when it may cost them votes, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 21).

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (on stage) delivering his National Day Rally at the Institute of Technical Education headquarters in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 21, 2022.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (on stage) delivering his National Day Rally at the Institute of Technical Education headquarters in Ang Mo Kio on Aug 21, 2022.

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SINGAPORE — Singapore’s very survival depends on it having the right leaders who have integrity, dedication, competence and the conviction to do the right thing even when it may cost them votes, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 21).

A united people, a high-quality leadership team and high trust between leaders and citizens are vital fundamentals that the country needs to respond “creatively and resiliently” to any challenges, Mr Lee said at the Institute of Technical Education headquarters in Ang Mo Kio.

“We may have the best-laid schemes, but without these three fundamentals, they will come to nothing,” he added. “In particular, good leadership is non-negotiable.”

Mr Lee said this as he concluded a wide-ranging rally speech that covered Singapore’s Covid-19 recovery, the global geopolitical situation, rising inflation and the cost of living, and the repeal of Section 377A of the Penal Code that criminalises sex between men.

He pointed out that there are countries with unstable governments and messy politics, where leaders can be forced out or resign en masse, and policies and laws cannot pass the political gridlock or are reversed by successive governments.

In these countries, which Mr Lee did not name, what results is a “devastating loss of faith” in the whole political system and political class, from which there will be "no way forward".

He said that there is zero margin for error for a small country like Singapore, which is why leadership succession is of paramount importance, referring to how the fourth-generation (4G) ministers from the People’s Action Party have chosen Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong to be their leader.

Earlier in his speech, he spoke about the Forward Singapore exercise launched by Mr Wong in June, which aims to refresh Singapore’s social compact and to build consensus on the kind of country that people want to see.

Mr Lee added that through the exercise, he hopes that Singaporeans will be able to appreciate some “enduring imperatives” for the country, such as a strong Singaporean identity, staying open and connected to the world, and the need to build a world-class talent pool.

Mr Lee said: “I am happy that the matter (of leadership renewal) is settled and my succession plans are back on track. I am also glad that from everything I see, Singaporeans are supportive of Lawrence and his leadership of the team. 

“So I ask you to give Lawrence and his 4G team — your team — your fullest support."

Here is all you need to know about the National Day Rally 2022:

COVID-19 RECOVERY

  • The wearing of face masks will soon be needed only on public transport as well as in healthcare settings such as in clinics, hospitals as well as residential and nursing homes, where there are vulnerable persons. More details, including when the new rules will kick in, will be announced later.
  • A new Covid-19 Resilience Medal will be awarded to all individuals and teams who were directly involved in fighting the pandemic. Those who have made exceptional contributions during the pandemic will also receive state awards such as the Commendation Medal, the Public Service Medal and the Public Administration Medal.

GEOPOLITICS AND FOREIGN INFLUENCE

  • The war in Ukraine could lead to greater contestation in the Asia-Pacific, Mr Lee said as he spoke about global geopolitical issues affecting the region. He urged Singaporeans to “get real” and be psychologically prepared for a conflict in future.
  • He also called on Singaporeans to be wary of messages that have the ulterior aim of persuading the recipient to take sides, or eroding people's trust in the Government. Citing the example of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in his Mandarin speech, he explained why Singapore took the position to defend fundamental principles robustly. 

ECONOMY AND COST OF LIVING

  • Giving an overview on why inflation and living costs are rising everywhere, Mr Lee spoke about how global economic conditions have fundamentally changed and that it is beyond Singapore's ability to influence. In view of this, he urged Singaporeans to raise their productivity and competitiveness.
  • The Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Trade and Industry and the economic agencies will soon announce new initiatives that will make "top talent everywhere sit up, pay attention and think seriously about coming" here. These moves are meant to help Singapore gain an advantage in the global competition for talent, Mr Lee said.

SECTION 377A

  • The Government will be repealing Section 377A of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men. At the same time, the Constitution will be amended to protect the definition of marriage — as that between a man and a woman — from being challenged in the courts.
  • Several other countries have repealed the colonial-era law criminalising sex between men, but debate rages in these countries over the legality of same-sex marriages. In an explainer, TODAY looks at the origins of the law in Singapore and around the world, and whether it has paved the way for homosexual marriages.
  • TODAY takes a look at the challenges brought to court regarding Section 377A. The cases were built on Article 12 of the Singapore Constitution, which guarantees everyone equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

FUTURE PLANS

  • Announcing plans for a "new business and lifestyle destination" next to Changi Airport Terminal 5, Mr Lee gave updates on the Tuas Port and the relocation of Paya Lebar Air Base. He said: "Our decisions to press on with Changi Terminal 5 and Tuas Port send a strong and clear signal to the world that Singapore is emerging stronger from the pandemic and charging full steam ahead."
Click here for all the key updates and highlights of National Day Rally 2022.

Related topics

National Day Rally 2022 Lee Hsien Loong Singapore politics NDR 2022

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