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LIVE Blog: PM Lee's National Day Rally in Malay and Mandarin

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is delivering his National Day Rally speech in Malay and Mandarin at the ITE College Central on Sunday evening (Aug 17). Follow this thread for live updates.


6.45pm: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong kicks off the Malay portion of his Rally speech by wishing the audience a Happy National Day and Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

6.50pm: Congregants of Masjid Kampong Holland were sad to leave their mosque, but were warmly received by the Mujahidin Mosque in Queenstown, which has been recently upgraded. This is in the same spirit of partnership and sacrifice that Singapore's Pioneer Generation displayed. Pioneer Malays had a choice at Independence, and you cast your lot with Singapore. Your choice enabled Singapore to grow into a multi-racial, multi-religious society. Thank you for having faith in Singapore, and working with other communities. 

6.52pm: To honour Pioneer Malays, MUIS and Mendaki created a PG Joint Committee, chaired by Speaker Halimah Yacob.


6.54pm: One outstanding Malay pioneer was Singapore's first President, Encik Yusof Ishak. His wife, Puan Noor Aishah, is in the audience. Encik Yusof was born in Perak, before coming to Singapore and starting Utusan Melayu, the first Malay language newspaper owned by Malays. He became Head of State in 1959 when Singapore gained self-government, and became President upon independence.

(Photo: Singapore's First President Yusof Ishak and wife Puan Noor Aishah)

6.55pm: I knew Encik Yusof as a young boy. He was warm and friendly, and showed us footage of his pilgrimage to Mecca. He was a deeply religious man who also had close bonds with non-Muslims. He strongly supported multi-racial policies and believed in meritocracy. He represented Singapore with dignity and distinction as President. For his contributions to Singapore, we will honour him in three ways:

  1. A new mosque in Woodlands will be named after him: Masjid Yusof Ishak.

  2. The Institute of South-East Asian Studies will be named after him to be known as ISEAS - The Yusof Ishak Institute.

  3. A Yusof Ishak Professorship in Social Sciences will be started at the National University of Singapore

(Photo: Former First Lady Puan Noor Aishah with Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim)


6.56pm: Since Encik Yusof was President, the Malay/Muslim community has progressed dramatically, in terms of household incomes, the percentage of those taking post-secondary education, and the number of Malay PMETS. This year, there were about 35 Malay/Muslim first-class honours graduates from local universities, including Afzal Ali of NUS Law School and Fauziah Ally from NTU's School of Biological Science.

6.57pm: Some challenges remain. For example, health: Hypertension, diabetes, obesity are prevalent. I would encourage more exercise. Some women have started kebaya-robics groups - what about the men?

7.00pm: Still, community on the whole has done well. We must keep Singapore a place where everyone can realise their potential regardless of family background, as long as you work hard. Education and training are a big part of the solution. But while many polytechnic and ITE students want to go to higher education, the academic route may not be suitable for everyone. That is why I set up the ASPIRE Committee chaired by Ms Idranee Rajah, focussed on creating more opportunities for Singaporeans - especially those in polytechnic and ITE - to progress.

7.01pm: I am confident we can continue to progress as we work together. That's how we've thrived over the past 50 years. As we prepare for Singapore's 50th birthday, let's uphold the Pioneer spirit; strengthen our multi-racial community; and give our children opportunities to fulfil their potential.


7.02pm: PM Lee Hsien Loong starts the National Day Rally in Chinese, describing how Singapore had progressed since Independence 49 years ago, when it had an uncertain future and nearly nothing in the Government budget.

7.03pm: The Pioneer Generation was rugged, resilient, endured much hardship, putting the nation’s interests first and making personal sacrifices if needed. They worked non-stop – there was no work/life balance – to raise large families on meagre salaries. They suffered a lot for the sake of the next generation.

7.04pm: PM Lee describes some Pioneers he met at a tribute party at the Istana, including Mdm Wong Ah Woon, 87, who worked 44 years as a Samsui woman. Mdm Wong and her generation built up Singapore, brick by brick. Without the Pioneer Generation, Singapore would not be what it is today.

(Photo: Prime Minister Lee and former Samsui woman Mdm Wong Ah Woon)

7.05pm: At least year’s Rally, I said we should find a meaningful way to express our gratitude to this generation. After a year of planning, we have launched the Pioneer Generation Package, the most important part of which is the PG Card. This "red card" allows holders to enjoy more subsidies: $$10 less at CHAS and dental clinics, and more discounts at Polyclinics, government dental clinics, Specialist Outpatient Clinics.

7.06pm: Of course, while this card has no expiry date, we hope you don't need to use it too often. It's better to be an active ager. Please keep it carefully and don't lose it.

7.07pm: We should build on foundations laid by our forefathers, not rest on our laurels. There is a common dream: To give the next generation better lives.


7.11pm: The Government aims to help everyone have enough for retirement, through CPF and home ownership. Some would like to withdraw their CPF at 55. But my concern is, if they spend all their savings, what will they do for next 20, 30 years? Even those who know how to manage their finances may get into trouble. The Government's intention is to offer the best protection for people's retirement.

7.12pm: The Goverment will refine the CPF system to make it work better for you, striking a balance between allowing more flexibility in use and ensuring it provides a steady stream of retirement income.

7.13pm: Another pillar of retirement adequacy: Home ownership. Home owners can unlock the savings in their flats through renting out rooms, moving in with their children and renting out their flats, or taking up the Silver Housing Bonus to "right-size" their flat.

7.13pm: As long as a family has CPF savings and a flat, they should be able to meet basic living expenses.


7.15pm: Heavier financial burden rests on middle-aged, who have to look after ageing parents and pay for children's education. The Government wants to help by creating opportunities for the young to realise their talents and pursue their dreams. Wherever you start in life, you will have chances to rise up.

7.16pm: While parents want their children to go to university, and polytechnic and ITE grads want to go for further studies, I've noticed that quite a few countries have produced many university graduates who cannot find jobs. Some of their degrees may not be relevant in the current market.

7.18pm: Everyone has different interests and apititudes. Not every is suited for the university track. And a degree does not guarantee a good career. Many good jobs don't require a degree. Children don't need to go to college to have a good future. Some SME bosses I met told me that when it comes to promotion, the main factors were experience and ability, not paper qualifications. So, working and learning on the job is a good pathway to upgrade.

7.19pm: Our vision for education: Allowing students to pursue their interests and finding a learning pathway to develop their talent to the fullest. We believe everyone can excel in the job they choose, if they master their skills. We should respect every job and every worker, and not measure someone's worth and achievements solely by their academic qualifications.

7.20pm: I have appointed Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah to lead a committee to review polytechnic, ITE education. We will open more pathways for them to enhance their career prospects. I hope employers will partner with the Government by helping their staff to learn new skills and raise their standards.


7.21pm: A vibrant economy is needed, to ensure that there are many good jobs to match the education and potential of Singaporeans. We need to grow our domestic market and international networks, especially in Asia's emerging economies.

7.22pm: Many Singapore companies have done well in China, in part due to Government support, and also because of the advantage of having a similar cultural and linguistic background. To take advantage of this, we must help young Singaporeans understand the Chinese culture better.

7.25pm: The Singapore Chinese Culture Centre, to be located behind the Singapore Conference Hall, will celebrate its ground-breaking ceremony next month. My old classmate Choo Thiam Siew will be President of the SCCC, which will promote traditional and modern Chinese culture, including Singapore's unique Chinese culture, in the uniquely Nanyang Style, such as Singapore Chinese Dance, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and Xinyao.

7.28pm: Xinyao has beautiful, heart-warming lyrics, and is full of local flavour. PM Lee cites - and sings - two songs which speak of ordinary people making a contribution, and of the dreams of youth.

7.29pm: In Singapore, not only can you have dreams, even ordinary people have the opportunity to realise them. When we became Independent, we dared not dream what we can achieve. But we've gone from Third World to First World - and have not reach our limits. We must embrace the spirit of the Pioneers, to scale new peaks.

The Prime Minister has ended the Malay and Chinese portions of his National Day Rally. Click here to read our updates from the English portion of his speech from 8pm, Aug 17.

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