SINGAPORE: The Government will continue to “invest heavily” in Singaporeans, to enable every citizen to achieve their potential, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day message on Thursday (Aug 8).
Mr Lee said there are plans to make pre-school and tertiary education more affordable, especially for lower- and middle-income families.
For older Singaporeans who wish to work longer, the Government will raise the retirement and re-employment ages. Mr Lee said he will touch on these issues during his National Day Rally on Aug 18.
Singapore has made “good progress” transforming industries, as well as re-skilling and upgrading the workforce to be future-ready, Mr Lee noted.
“SkillsFuture is building up the skills of tens of thousands of Singaporeans, helping them be more productive and employable, and preparing them for the new jobs being created. All these structural measures will not only address our longer-term challenges, but also help us see through a more immediate downturn,” he said.
“By continuing to invest heavily in our people, we enable each one of us to take advantage of new opportunities at every stage of life,” Mr Lee added.
“This is a joint endeavour. The Government will keep on helping every citizen to achieve your potential and contribute your best to Singapore.
“Each one of us must strive to improve ourselves, do our best and chase our dreams. And I know parents are making the effort to bring up children well, with the right character and values.”
SINGAPORE NOT IMMUNE TO GLOBAL PROBLEMS
Mr Lee also spoke about Singapore’s economic slowdown amid weakened global demand and international trade.
“This has affected our manufacturing sector and trade-related services. In particular, we are feeling the worldwide cyclical downswing for electronics, which performed strongly last year,” he said.
“But other parts of our economy are still doing well. We have experienced such slowdowns before and we will take this one in our stride. Should it become necessary to stimulate the economy, we will do so.”
As the world enters “a more troubled period” – with trade tensions between major powers as well as threats such as global warming – Singapore faces “grave challenges”, the Prime Minister said.
“On the economic front, they will disrupt supply chains, alter trade patterns and shift investment flows. We must get ourselves ready for a very different future,” he added.
“But our past gives us confidence. Throughout our history, when trials and tribulations have beset us, we picked ourselves up and worked together to overcome them.
“Each time the world changed, we were able to survive. Each time, we re-invented and renewed our economy, our people and our city, and we thrived again.
“And this is what we must keep on doing.”
RENEWING THE CITY
Delivering his National Day message from Jewel Changi Airport, Mr Lee said the lifestyle complex, which opened in April, is “just one of the many things we are doing to remake our city”.
“Recently a foreign leader, visiting us for the first time, told me that as his airplane flew over the island, he knew at once that he was over Singapore.
“Because, looking out of the window, he could see that every corner of the island had been meticulously thought through and lovingly tended – every housing precinct, every landmark, every patch of park and greenery.
“The island was a sparkling diamond, with brilliant facets catching the eye. Just like Jewel, at Changi Airport, where I am today,” said Mr Lee.
He added that Jewel has captured the imagination of both Singaporeans and visitors, and that Singapore is “very proud of our new gateway to the world”.
“It reminds us what makes this country special,” Mr Lee said. “It shows that Singaporeans not only have the creativity and daring to re-invent ourselves, but also the passion and the competence to turn dreams into reality.
“As you might expect, other cities and airports are already planning to emulate Jewel, and perhaps even do it bigger and better. But we dared to attempt the new and we did it first.”
He noted that other projects to remake Singapore include Changi Terminal 5, Tuas Megaport, Jurong Lake District, the redevelopment of Paya Lebar Airbase and the Greater Southern Waterfront.
“All these projects will keep us busy, and create new opportunities for Singaporeans for decades to come,” he added.
“To stay in front of the pack, we must constantly come up with fresh ideas, always be ready to break new ground. What limits our possibilities is not the physical size of our island, but the ingenuity of our people and the boldness of our spirit.”
As Singapore marks its bicentennial, Mr Lee urged Singaporeans to be “as resolute as the Pioneer Generation” who founded the nation, and “as united as the Merdeka Generation” who brought Singapore from third world to first.
“Let us continue to work together as one united people to thrive in an uncertain world, challenge ourselves to explore new horizons, and commit our hearts and souls to Singapore and its future.”