Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday evening called on Singaporeans to support a move by the government to ensure Singapore would remain a success story in the next 20 years.
In his 10-minute pre-recorded National Day message to Singaporeans, PM Lee said he has tasked Education Minister Heng Swee Keat to chair a committee of younger ministers to take a “fresh look” at existing government policies.
In revising its policies, he said the government would keep "Singaporeans at the heart of all we do" and would engage citizens in the review in order to build a broad consensus going forward.
“To be a shining red dot twenty years from now, we must rethink our approaches, and reinvent ourselves. We must anticipate changes and prepare for what lies ahead,” he said, while asking Singaporeans "for your support in this exercise".
"Beyond specific issues like immigration and procreation, we need to review our policies more broadly, particularly social and education policies," said PM Lee in the recorded message shot against the backdrop of Bishan Park.
Dressed casually in a pink shirt and slacks, he revealed that Singapore is doing “quite well” as the economy grew 1.7 per cent in the first half of 2012.
The economy is on track to grow between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent growth for the year, he added.
But he stressed that Singapore should not be complacent despite its economic success, pointing to the economic turmoil in Europe and the US, and closer to home, the recent tension within the South China Sea.
“The world is not standing still. The next two decades will be very different… Singapore will encounter many new challenges and opportunities.”
‘What future do we see for Singapore?’
For Singaporeans to live in a “successful country that meets our aspirations”, Lee touched on three broad issues – equal opportunities for all, building an inclusive society and creating a sense of belonging and identity.
First, Lee said that Singapore should always offer hope of a better future by striving to be a “fair and just society which creates opportunities for all”.
In order to nurture a forward-looking community, Lee said that the government is planning to open up more pathways in the education system to fulfill the diverse aspirations of our young.
Second, Singapore should strive to be an “inclusive society with a heart” where the successful ones should have a “duty” to contribute back to society and share the fruits of their success widely so that no Singaporeans is left out.
Despite introducing several initiatives such as ComCare, Workfare and the Silver Housing Bonus, Lee highlighted that every Singaporean should play his part to nurture a united community as the government “cannot do everything”.
Third, Lee said that that Singapore must be a “home that all of us love… where we build treasured memories and lifelong friendships”.
However, he admitted that the feeling of belonging and identity is getting increasingly harder to nurture with the swelling inflow of new immigrants and foreign workers.
Nonetheless, he said he hoped that Singaporeans would “remain confident and open, and welcome those who will strengthen our team and help us and our children do better”.
Besides keeping society open to immigrants, Lee also reminded Singaporeans to “bring up our own next generation” and grow their own families.
In order to tackle the underlying causes of our low birth rates, Lee suggested creating more supportive social attitudes and work environments as well as lightening the burdens of parenthood.
For the full text of Lee’s National Day Message, click here.
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