PM Lee's Chinese New Year message

Here is the full transcript of PM Lee Hsien Loong's Chinese New Year message, which can be found on his Facebook page.

We rounded off the Dragon Year with the Parliamentary Debate on the Population White Paper. It was a difficult but valuable Debate, which I hope helped Singaporeans better appreciate our demographic challenges and choices. MPs aired Singaporeans’ concerns over our population trends, and discussed our choices. We now have a roadmap to safeguard Singaporeans’ wellbeing and livelihoods, which will be reviewed nearer 2020. The government will also give priority to resolving the current strains on infrastructure, particularly in transport.

The best way to strengthen our Singapore core is to encourage more Singa­poreans to marry, and have more children. This remains our top priority. We gladly welcomed more babies during the Dragon Year, and hope that this continues into the Year of the Snake. But we must go beyond the Chinese zodiac, and reaffirm the fundamental reasons for Singaporeans to have more children and grow their families.

Families are the basic building blocks of our society. They shape our identity and sense of self, transmit values and anchor us in a rapidly changing world. Our families comfort us when we are down, and encourage us to reach for the stars. They inspire us to be better people, not just for ourselves but for others.

Chinese New Year is an important occasion to celebrate with our families. It is a time to thank our elders for their sacrifices bringing us up. It is when we shower love on our own children, and teach them to respect their elders and stay together as one family. It is an opportunity to catch up with relatives and friends, especially those we have not seen for a long time, at reunion dinners and home visits. These traditions are part of our heritage and remind us of the truly important things in life.

We should do our best to keep such traditions alive. This is especially important as social norms change, and other interests apparently take precedence over these traditions. Even in China, where millions travel from the cities to their rural hometowns to see their families during the Chinese New Year, more second-generation migrants are choosing to stay in cities to enjoy the holiday instead. Family structures are also evolving. There are many more nuclear families, and extended family ties have grown weaker. Some families prefer to go overseas over the long weekend, instead of staying in Singapore for the traditional Chinese New Year festivities.

In a more globalised world, many more Singaporeans are working or living overseas, including in far-flung places like Afghanistan, Ghana or Azerbaijan. They may be away for extended periods, and not always able to return home for Chinese New Year. These separations can be hard on them and their family members. I am therefore happy that Singaporeans overseas are making the effort to connect with their families here during this festive season. Some video-conference into reunion dinners, while others send e-hongbaos to their friends online. ME5 Daryl Cheong, who is currently in Afghanistan as a member of the SAF’s Forward Support Team, uses Skype and Whatsapp to keep in touch with his family here. But nothing cheers him more than receiving a hamper of traditional Chinese New Year goodies from his family. As he says, “chicken ‘bak kwa’, almond biscuits and other goodies have brought me comfort, warmth and joy”.

The Government will continue promoting strong and healthy families. The Marriage & Parenthood package this year was a big step forward. We enhanced the Baby Bonus, gave first-timer parents priority in booking BTO flats (Parenthood Priority Scheme), and gave each newborn a Medisave grant. These hongbaos will help parents cope with the practical issues of raising children. But more important than financial incentives is fostering a pro-family social environment, and reaffirming Singaporeans’ mindsets towards having children. That is why we also introduced paternity leave and shared parental leave, and strengthened maternity protection for pregnant employees.

I hope Singaporeans take advantage of these measures and have more babies. I also hope that over time, young people, couples, employers and society at large will become more supportive of marriage and parenting.

As we celebrate Chinese New Year, let us spare a thought for those who are going through difficult times, such as the less fortunate or families who have recently lost loved ones. If you can, reach out to them and invite them to your celebrations. They are all part of our larger Singapore family. They deserve our support; we too may one day look to others for comfort. We should also welcome our friends from the Malay, Indian and other ethnic groups to join our Chinese New Year celebrations, for this is one of the joys of living in our multi-ethnic community.

All these are possible only if Singapore continues to do well. Seniors want to enjoy their golden years without worrying about healthcare costs or whether there will be caregivers to look after them. Parents want a safe and nurturing environment to raise their children. Young Singaporeans seek opportunities to fulfil their dreams and change the world. We all hope Singapore will always remain the best home for ourselves, our families and our children.

The Year of the Snake is said to bring peace and prosperity. Even so, we cannot leave Singapore’s fate to traditional beliefs. We must all work hard to create a brighter future for us all, and I am confident that we will succeed. Let us enjoy ourselves this Chinese New Year – give thanks for our families, appreciate what Singapore has achieved together, and resolve to keep Singapore harmonious and prospering.

I wish all Singaporeans a Very Happy Chinese New Year!

Related stories:
Parliament passes amended motion to White Paper
NSP calls for National Referendum
Why I oppose the White Paper: Nicole Seah

  • Man drives three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway 2 hours 58 minutes ago
    Man drives three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway

    Some things in life are hard to explain, like why a dentist insists on asking you questions when you clearly can't respond. Or why we call pants "a pair" even though it's just one. Or how about this puzzler: Why a person would drive their Mustang along a Texas highway despite it missing a wheel? Life is full of little mysteries, I guess.

  • How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds 21 hours ago
    How a mom stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment, according to New York Magazine.

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground 23 hours ago
    All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable, no-nonsense Legacy wagon. It is the kind of unique product that only a quirky company like Subaru could build, and was one that kept Subaru from slipping into ubiquity even as traditional SUVs and crossovers have taken over the world.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.

  • Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name
    Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name

    General Moeldoko, the head of Indonesia’s Armed Forces, has clarified that he had not apologised for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who had been involved in the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore.