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National Day Rally Speech (by PM Lee Hsien Loong) – 29th August 2010

1. Economy has shaken off recession and is now booming
a. 1H GDP = 18% Y-o-Y
b. Lots of jobs created; unemployment has gone down
c. Singaporeans can look forward to higher wages and good bonuses
2. Last year, Singaporeans were very worried about the future
a. But we have come through crisis much better than expected
b. Everyone contributed – unions, workers, employers and government officials
c. Thank you all for a job well done!
3. Also important to learn from how we managed the downturn
a. Despite all our preparations and precautions, there will be future crises
b. We should be ready for them
4. NTUC attended the annual ILO conference in Geneva in June
a. Invited to share how Singapore coped with downturn and rebounded so quickly
b. Presentation generated a lot of interest
c. Delegates wanted to know:
i. How did we manage to fund stimulus packages?
ii. How did we build trust and confidence between unions and employers?
d. In fact these two questions point to our critical advantages
5. First, we had built up reserves for a rainy day
a. So Government was able to fund our programmes – SPUR, Resilience Package,
Jobs Credit, without needing to borrow
b. Unlike Europeans, US and Japan, which all ran huge Budget deficits and now
face grave problems
6. Second, we had built up trust over a long period, and many shared trials
a. Hence in this crisis
i. Workers accepted sacrifices
ii. Confident employers would play their part
iii. Both trusted Government to take right measures
b. Together, tripartite partners did the right thing for Singapore
7. NTUC is often asked to explain the Singapore way to other countries
a. Others understand how our system works, and why it works
b. But they do not find it easy to copy
c. As an Asian unionist once told NTUC, “the day my government behaves like
yours, is the day my union will also behave like NTUC”
8. 2010 growth forecast is 13 – 15%
a. But cannot expect to grow like this in the long term
b. Growth not so spectacular when taken over 3 years:
i. 1% in 2008, -1% in 2009, projected up to 15% this year
ii. Average of about 5% a year
c. This is a realistic target of what we can sustain
d. 3-5% will be good growth in future
e. Hence please be careful with wage expectations
9. We have to keep growing
a. To generate resources to upgrade our city and improve our lives
b. And to enable each Singaporean to:
i. Have a secure job
ii. Afford a good standard of living
iii. Secure a bright future for his children
c. Thus need to raise productivity
i. Workers, employers, and the government too
ii. Requires effort at all levels
10. First, individual workers
a. You must upgrade your knowledge and skills, to be able to do a wider range of
tasks, and become more valuable to your firms
b. Example: Mr Tong Shiang Wee, 47
i. Works at Cameron, which makes equipment for the oil and gas industry
ii. Tong joined the firm at age 21 with no school qualifications, starting at
the bottom as a trainee fitter
iii. But his attitude was “must try, no harm trying”
iv. Over the years, he kept learning on the job and attended courses to
upgrade himself
v. Today, he is a Manufacturing Specialist, overseeing 70 technicians and 4
production supervisors
11. Second, employers play a key role too
a. Firms must find promising business opportunities, develop expertise, create
value and grow a competitive and profitable business
b. Example: our shipyards Keppel and SembCorp Marine
i. Have developed deep specialist knowledge and skills
ii. Together, they produce 70% of jack-up oil-rigs in the world
c. Recently a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
i. An oil rig (Deepwater Horizon) drilling a deep water well blew up and sank
ii. Causing major pollution in the sea and all along the Gulf coast
d. I met a Keppel executive in Houston recently
i. I asked if we built the rig that sank
ii. He said “no, but we built the rig from which they are mounting the rescue
e. Diagram to explain
i. Massive operation to try to plug the well
ii. Keppel built the Q4000 platform, from which engineers carried out the
“top kill” operation
iii. Two other platforms drilling relief wells to seal the well and achieve a
“bottom kill” (Development Driller II and III) – built by Keppel and SembMarine
f. Hence two companies pay good bonuses to workers, and several hundred
million dollars in taxes to the Government every year
12. Third, public sector must also improve productivity
a. Harder to measure government outcomes
b. But still important for us to seek out efficiency gains
c. Example: IPPT for NSmen
i. Previously very manual process, now highly automated
(1) Static stations have sensors to count the number of chin-ups and
sit-ups completed
(2) NS personnel run 2.4 km with RFIDs which automatically log their
ii. Better service: NSmen can check scores and status at computer terminals
iii. Result:
(1) Manpower saved: In the past need 14 PTIs to conduct IPPT for 300
NSmen; now 6 PTIs do 600 NSmen
(2) NSmen’s time saved
(3) Sense of purpose and efficiency
13. Productivity must be the responsibility of all of us:
a. Keep learning and upgrading
b. Increase our value and contribution
c. Then Singapore can stay ahead of the competition, our firms can do well and
workers can improve their lives
14. Economy booming this year
a. Will definitely need more foreign workers so that we can create more jobs in
b. I said there could be 100,000 more, but perhaps it will be fewer, e.g. 80,000
c. Said this to highlight trade-off: We want higher growth to benefit our workers,
but that also means accepting more foreign workers
15. Foreign workers and immigrants are a hot topic in Singapore
a. Have held many dialogue sessions with grassroots leaders
b. GRLs understand logically why we need immigration
c. But they are concerned about:
i. Competition
ii. Crowding – housing and transport
iii. Character of society
iv. Also want to be sure that Singaporeans are more valued than foreigners
d. Concerns come through other channels as well
i. Union leaders
ii. Newspaper letters
iii. Objections to workers’ dormitories near homes
e. I understand these sentiments
i. These are legitimate concerns
ii. Which we take seriously
f. But we have good reasons to allow a controlled inflow of foreign workers and
g. I will explain why
i. How staying open benefits Singaporeans
ii. What we can do to address the problems
16. Singapore is not the only country grappling with this issue
a. Many countries host significant foreign or immigrant populations. Result:
i. Mingling between different peoples
ii. Frictions and insecurity
iii. Political pressures against foreigners
b. Hence issue is hot in lots of places – e.g. Australia, UK, France, Netherlands,
Switzerland, US
17. US
a. One of the most open societies in the world
b. But Americans have also grown uncomfortable with the influx, especially of
“illegal” immigrants
18. Houston in Texas
a. 5 million population within greater metropolitan area
b. With many immigrants, contributing to a vibrant city
c. Texas Medical Centre – large centre (49 institutions) doing leading edge
research and treatment, with many foreign scientists and doctors
19. Met business and city leaders in Houston
a. They said Texan political leaders have shown political courage in keeping the
state open to immigrants
b. Whenever neighbouring states like California and Arizona tightened up and
pushed out immigrants, Texas benefitted
c. Not that Texas faced no problems, but overall staying open had been a plus
d. Hence hoped Texas could continue welcoming immigrants and sustain its
20. I also met Bill Gates of Microsoft on trip
a. I asked him where Microsoft did research
i. In US: Redmond (near Seattle), Silicon Valley, Cambridge (New England)
ii. Overseas: Cambridge (UK), Bangalore, Beijing
b. Microsoft also had a “software development office” in Vancouver, Canada,
across the border from Redmond in USA. Why?
i. The US restricts H1B visas (for professionals), so not all Microsoft’s foreign
researchers could work in Redmond
ii. Whereas Canada welcomed skilled workers
iii. Microsoft researchers earning C$100,000 could get Canadian Green Cards
(PR) easily
c. Bill Gates said that globally, 1/3 of Microsoft researchers are Chinese and 1/3
are Indian
d. Recently, he gave out awards to the top 12 Microsoft employees
i. He could pronounce only one name (Chris Jones) without help
ii. The other winners were all foreign-born, many of them Asian
21. Lessons for us:
a. Immigration and foreign talent are difficult issues everywhere
b. They pose very real political and social challenges
c. But if we can manage these, benefits are substantial
22. Several reasons why it is important for Singapore to stay open
23. First, to gain talent
a. Talent make a tremendous difference for us, doing critical work in our economy
and helping us to be an outstanding city
b. We have very good people, but never enough
c. Hence need to draw talent from all over the world, to supplement our local pool
24. e.g. architects
a. Many talented young architects in Singapore
i. Recently, URA held a second “20 Under 45” exhibition and publication
showcasing outstanding works by 20 young architects
b. Majority are native Singaporeans, though quite a few are foreign-born
c. They include the architects who built the Pinnacle
i. Husband and wife team
ii. Mr Khoo Peng Beng is from Ipoh, now a Singapore PR
iii. Belinda Huang is from Selangor, now a Singapore Citizen
iv. They won a design competition
v. Result: one of the most sought after HDB projects
d. Local architects might consider this “foreign competition“
e. But Singaporeans, especially the residents of Pinnacle, benefit – better living
environment, a more beautiful city
25. e.g. sports talent
a. We are grooming our own sports talent
b. Our young sportsmen and women have done very well at the YOG
c. In some sports we are near the top, e.g. sailing, bowling (Jasmine Yeong-
Nathan, Women’s champion in 2008 Bowling World Cup; Singapore Sportswoman of
the Year 2009)
d. But in others we still need to draw on new citizens, e.g. table tennis
i. We are very proud of Isabelle Li, who won a silver medal at the YOG
ii. But we have too few table tennis players, so we have topped up
iii. Our women’s team has done very well
(1) Won Silver at the Beijing Olympics
(2) Beat China to win Gold at the World Team Table Tennis
Championship in Moscow
iv. They may not have been born here, and may not speak good Singlish, but
they have chosen this place to be their home
v. They are playing for Singapore, flying the flag for Singapore, and when
they win, the band plays Majulah Singapura
vi. Hope all Singaporeans will cheer for them, just as we cheer for all our
national sportsmen
26. Second, we need reinforcements to grow our economy and create jobs for
a. Foreign workers supplement our ranks and enable us to build successful
i. e.g. Keppel and SembCorp again
ii. Together employ 20,000 people in Singapore, including 5,000
iii. Without the foreign workers, these Singaporean jobs would not exist (and
vice versa)
iv. The shipyards employ foreign workers and professionals from many
v. They bring a wide range of skills and experiences, and knowledge about
different markets around the world
vi. With local and foreign workers working together, Keppel and SembCorp
have become world-beaters
27. Finally, we need immigrants to make up for our population shortfall
a. Our efforts to produce more Singaporean babies have not yielded results
b. Despite all our measures, last year we had fewer babies than 2008!
28. Important distinction between foreign workers and immigrants (PRs and citizens)
a. Foreign workers are transients
b. Need them to work in factories, banks, hospitals, shipyards, construction
c. They will leave when the job is done
d. So we can accept higher numbers temporarily
e. We are pushing hard for higher productivity, so that in the long term we can
rely less on foreign workers
f. But we want to build more flats, more MRT lines
g. So please bear with the larger numbers for the time being
29. Numbers of immigrants are far smaller
a. We are very careful with whom we accept
b. They must not only contribute economically, but also:
i. Integrate into our society
ii. Strike roots here
30. We have moved fast over the last 5 years
a. Accepted a larger inflow of foreign workers
b. Taken in more new citizens and PRs
c. Will consolidate, slow down pace
i. Cannot continue to take in as many as we have been doing
ii. Give Singaporeans time to adjust
d. But we must not close ourselves up
31. Basic principle: citizens come first
a. Our policies reflect this – citizens treated better than PRs, and PRs than non-
b. We reviewed policies last year, and adjusted housing, healthcare and education
subsidies to sharpen the distinction
c. But other less tangible issues too; will address them
d. Not to dismiss your qualms
e. But to explain how we can manage the problems
f. And enjoy the benefits of the inflow while limiting the downside
32. First, competition from foreigners
a. Many Singaporeans accept the economic logic – that Singapore will benefit with
foreigners working here
b. But they fear that it will hurt them personally
c. I empathise with this
33. We are protecting Singaporean jobs
a. We do not allow uncontrolled entry, or we would be swamped!
b. We restrict foreign workers through dependency ratios
c. Foreign Worker Levies make foreign workers more expensive to hire than
Singaporean workers
i. The levies are going up, and must rise further
d. The WIS also helps low-income Singaporeans – it is only for citizens
i. This year we will spend around $400 million giving WIS to 400,000
34. But protection can only go so far
a. If Singaporean workers lack the skills or are not competitive, no matter how
high our levy or WIS, the jobs will still go elsewhere
b. Just as Vancouver poached jobs from Seattle, many countries can poach jobs
from Singapore
35. Talked to union leaders about this
a. They understand the logic
b. A few years ago, they were more worried about impact on Singapore workers
c. But now they and their members are quite convinced that their companies
benefit from being able to hire foreign workers
d. At the firm level, local and foreign workers work well together
i. e.g. in one hotel, housekeeping department employs both local “aunties”
and younger foreign workers
ii. Local “aunties” treat foreign workers like their own daughters or nieces
iii. Help orientate them to Singapore when they first arrive, even cook and
pack food for them
iv. Younger foreign workers do the heavier physical tasks
v. Both groups have become firm friends
vi. Supervisor and union representative even asked Management to assist in
the PR application of a foreign worker!
36. Second, Singaporeans wonder if new arrivals will integrate into our society, identify
with Singapore, and grow roots here
a. They speak and dress differently, and have different social norms
b. Also may speak no English, or do so poorly
i. Harder to fit in, and communicate with our minorities
ii. Encourage them to learn English
iii. CCs will offer basic English courses
iv. English proficiency will help them to integrate, and hence be more ready
for PR or citizenship
c. More important, beyond language or social graces
i. Must get along with different races
ii. Must adopt our egalitarian norms
d. Takes time to adjust, but new arrivals must make the effort
e. Some have gotten on fine
i. e.g. Ms Zhao Xiaodong, 38, from Dalian, an SBS bus captain on Service
109 (Serangoon Interchange to Changi Village Terminal)
ii. She is well-liked by her passengers, especially residents in Pasir Ris
iii. When she went away for a week, several wrote in to SBS
iv. They said she is polite and caring, and considerate to pregnant women
and the elderly
v. They wondered if she had been transferred to another route, or had left
vi. But regardless they would like her back on route 109
37. Singaporeans too should do their part to understand and integrate new arrivals
a. Some more serious
i. Bringing young immigrants to the Army Museum, for an early taste of NS
ii. Part of PA’s National Education Experience programme for new citizens
b. Some more light-hearted
i. “Singapore Shiok” – a handbook about Singapore produced by SMU
students for international students
c. But individuals too should help new arrivals ease into community
d. Key is not abstract arguments, but personal ties and friendships
38. Encourage new citizens and PRs to give back to Singapore society
a. One more example – Project Read under SINDA
i. Programme running since 1998, benefitted over 4,000 kids
ii. Students and adults volunteer to read to kids aged 4 to 8
iii. Almost half the volunteers are PRs and new citizens (Mrs Sonali
Mazumdar, from India, now a Singapore citizen)
39. Growing roots is a process that takes some time
a. New arrivals gradually connect and identify with Singapore
b. Finally, some will make the decision to commit themselves and become Singa-
pore citizens
c. For one new citizen family, defining moment was when daughters started to
think of India not as home but as a holiday destination
40. Third, tied up with loyalty and commitment is NS
a. A heavy demand on citizens
i. Two years full-time
ii. Then more years as ORNS, while trying to build a career and raise a
b. Unfortunately not practical to make foreign workers and adult immigrants do
i. But their children will serve
ii. Many PRs and first generation citizens have done NS
iii. Still, sense that citizens are carrying a heavy burden
41. Hence we do all we can to recognise the contributions and sacrifices of our NSmen
a. SAFRA clubhouses, allowances, tax reliefs, top-ups etc.
b. New initiative – the National Service Recognition Award (NSRA)
i. Help with the cost of their subsequent education
ii. Also to buy a house
42. NSRA will be a meaningful sum
a. In total $9,000
b. Commanders will receive more
c. In tranches, paid at major milestones of an NSman’s service
d. Into his PSEA and CPF accounts
e. For citizens only
f. PRs who have done NS will receive the NSRA when they take up citizenship
43. This will be a significant token to appreciate the contributions of citizens who have
served NS
44. MINDEF will announce the details soon
45. Finally, issue of crowding and congestion
a. Will we have enough facilities for Singaporeans and foreigners?
b. Government will also address these concerns
46. Schools
a. Will ensure enough school and university places
b. Discussed in Chinese speech
c. Will elaborate later on plans
47. Transport
a. Many complaints about congestion, especially on trains
b. I understand the problem
c. LTA and the transport operators have been studying this
d. Let me explain
i. Mostly a problem of the morning peak hour (7.45 am to 8.45 am). See
ii. Persistently crowded at a few stretches
(1) Bukit Gombak to Dover
(2) Toa Payoh to Novena
(3) Serangoon to Dhoby Ghaut
e. What we are doing
i. Jurong East station – by May next year, will complete modification of
station and will add trains (to boost capacity by 15%)
ii. NEL – will run one extra train during peak hour by next year, and buy new
trains in 4-5 years (to increase capacity by 50%)
iii. NSL – some stretches quite crowded
(1) Circle Line has helped
(2) Will be fully completed next year. Commuters can transfer lines
without going through city. This will ease pressure on Toa Payoh – Novena
(by 10-15%)
(3) But expect traffic to grow, so must do more
(4) Upgrading signalling system, so trains can run at shorter intervals,
and buying more trains. Takes 6 years, because can only work 3-4 hrs a
f. Over next decade spending $60bn to double rail network
i. Downtown Line
ii. Thomson Line
iii. Eastern Region Line
g. Doing everything possible to improve things, but hope Singaporeans can
i. MRT will always be packed during peak traffic
ii. Happens in all cities
iii. Please be patient – not possible to guarantee that every passenger can
get onto every first train, but next train (or the one after that) just a few
minutes away
48. Housing
a. People concerned about housing prices going up
b. Some blame it on foreigners
i. No doubt foreigners and immigrants contribute to housing demand
ii. But also broader economic forces at work
(1) In 1H last year property prices fell even though there were many
foreigners here
(2) This year, property prices up, and also in China and Hong Kong
c. We are managing immigration to make sure we do not become too
d. Commitment: will always keep HDB flats within reach of Singaporeans
i. Affordable
ii. Adequate supply
e. HDB:
i. Building more HDB flats – 16,000 this year, up to 22,000 next year
ii. Expediting completion of BTO flats
iii. Emphasising home ownership: tightening rules on private property
owners buying HDB resale flats
f. ECs and DBSS:
i. “Sandwich group” – couples earning $8,000 to $10,000
ii. Presently can buy ECs with a $30,000 CPF grant
iii. But anxious of falling in between
(1) Not eligible for HDB
(2) Unable to afford private property
iv. Will do more to help them own homes
v. Will widen choice beyond ECs, to allow them to buy HDB DBSS flats
(1) With $30,000 grant but no government loan
vi. Release more land for ECs and DBSS
g. Private property:
i. Have acted to cool market twice
ii. Need to do more
h. MND will announce details tomorrow
49. New Population and Talent Division in PMO
a. We need to draw all the threads together
i. Manage our immigration, talent, and population policies holistically
ii. Ensure that Singaporeans benefit, and impact is well managed
b. Will set up a Population and Talent Division in PMO
i. Ministry level, like PSD, with a Permanent Secretary
ii. Overseen by DPM Wong Kan Seng
iii. Coordinate the work of MHA, MOM, MTI, MCYS
50. Ultimately success depends not just on government policy, but also on personal
a. e.g. Ms Dahlia Ho, 28, currently a medical technologist at Changi General
b. She came to Singapore from Hong Kong in 1996 at age 14
c. She was a bit scared of Singapore at first, having heard rumours that people
were not allowed to drink coke or chew gum here
d. She was one of only a few foreigners at her new school, and was worried about
fitting in
e. But local students welcomed her, and bonded with her through sharing
snippets about Hong Kong stars
f. When she started working, her supervisor, a local Singaporean, guided and
mentored her, and made a huge impact on her life
g. The supervisor was understanding and supportive when her mother fell
terminally ill, and she had to take time off
h. Because of the kindness shown to her by Singaporeans she came across over
the years, she recently decided to take up Singapore citizenship
i. She is now married to a local-born Singaporean, whom she met in JC (hope for
babies soon)
51. Immigration will be a continuing issue for us
a. How to keep an open door while protecting Singaporeans here?
b. How to welcome new citizens while holding to our values?
c. There are no ideal or permanent solutions
d. The new measures will address some of the problems
e. We will have to manage, monitor, and adjust as we go along
52. We ourselves are all descendants of immigrants
a. Our ancestors came poor, but we their descendants have prospered
b. Had our ancestors not come here, we would not have today’s Singapore
c. We must continue to be open today, and manage the difficulties, so that a
generation from now Singapore will still be thriving and prospering
53. For all Singaporeans, local-born or new arrivals, education is one of our most
important priorities
a. To give our young the best chance in life
54. We already have a very good education system
a. Gives students strong foundation, especially in maths and science, and be
effectively bilingual
b. Produces competent and employable graduates
c. But we can do better
55. Each child is different
a. With his own interests, academic inclinations and aptitudes
b. Our aim should be to provide him a good education
c. One that suits him and enables him to achieve his potential
56. We must invest in our talent, in many dimensions
a. A system not just for a few top students, but catering to all
b. Stretch the brilliant ones, but also help students who are less academically
inclined, plus all those in between
c. Give each one a tailored, holistic education – academic, moral, physical, art, a
sense of belonging and identity
d. Aim for a mountain range: high averages, and many peaks
57. We are realising this vision
a. All our schools are equipped with modern facilities and staffed with good,
committed teachers
b. Each has developed its own specialties – e.g. arts, band, sports, robotics or
uniformed groups
c. So a student can find in any neighbourhood school in Singapore
i. Subjects, enrichment programmes and CCAs that excite him
ii. Opportunities to go on overseas study trips or exchanges
iii. A learning environment that enables him to grow and do his best
58. Let me show you a few of the interesting programmes in schools
a. Wall Mural (Haig Girls’) (sketches conceptualised by students)
b. Batik painting in Visual Arts Programme (Maha Bodhi)
c. Singapore Garden Festival 3rd prize Floral Club (Naval Base Secondary)
(building the display)
d. Nusantara Orchestra (Siglap Secondary School) (fusion – Angklung, Bonang and
Kulintang from Indonesia and Bells, a Western instrument similar to xylophone)
e. Concert musical “Mulan” (South View Primary)
f. Hip-hop dance (Riverside Secondary) (integrated with PE)
g. Cross-cultural dance at Hong Kong Disneyland (Zhenghua Primary)
h. Learning ‘anjalli’ dance in Bali as part of Malay Literature Immersion
Programme (Bukit Panjang Government High)
i. NCC Exchange Programme to India (Desert Trekking Course in Rajasthan,
j. DNA testing as part of Life Sciences programme Dunman Secondary)
k. Robotics (Lian Hua Primary) (building robot for National Junior Robotics
competition; testing a challenge)
59. Mostly neighbourhood schools, doing good work
a. Paying attention to academics too
b. One principal said: “Give us a chance to show what we can do”
60. But we can still do better
61. In primary schools, we should do more to nurture the whole child
a. Develop physical robustness, enhance their creative capacity and shape their
personal, cultural and social identity
b. We will maintain traditional strengths in Maths and Science
c. Strengthen “soft skills” like oral expression, to raise language proficiency and
instil confidence to speak up, both English and mother tongue
d. Give more attention to PE, Art and Music
e. We will continue to improve teacher-student ratios
f. Also train more specialist teachers for PE, Art and Music
62. At primary six, PSLE is a major hurdle
a. Students, and parents, take this very seriously, and rightly so
b. PSLE results are the basis for the choice of secondary schools
c. It is a fair and meritocratic system
d. But PSLE is not meant to be a do-or-die test that determines the whole future of
a child
e. PSLE does matter, but there will be many good choices in secondary school
f. And if a student does less well than he hoped in PSLE, he will have
opportunities later to catch up, prove himself and enter competitive programmes
63. Hence in secondary schools, we will widen the range of options
a. The most popular schools or courses cannot take in all those who apply
b. But we can have more schools offering programmes that students want
c. And we can create more pathways for students to move within the system
64. We will expand the Integrated Programme (IP) for express students
a. For students confident of making it to university
b. Skip O-levels, go straight to A-levels or International Baccalaureate, and hence
spend more time developing their interests and capabilities
c. Currently 11 schools on IP
i. Programme has been successful - First 3 batches of IP graduates did well
at A-levels or IB
d. Will extend the IP to 7 more schools
i. All new schools will have both IP and non-IP tracks, and students can
switch between them
ii. So students who do not get into IP after PSLE can still do so later
65. We will enhance secondary education for less academically inclined students
a. N(T) students often prefer the ITE approach and environment
b. Hence trying out an enhanced N(T) programme in three schools (Bedok Town,
Shuqun and Si Ling Secondary Schools)
c. More practice-oriented curriculum, industrial attachments and internships
d. Results – students more motivated, with lower absentee rates
e. We will learn lessons from this programme and apply them to other N(T)
66. We started Northlight School and Assumption Pathway School to cater to the small
number of students who do not pass PSLE
a. Northlight’s guiding principle: each student is a star, who can shine as brightly
as any others
b. Facilities and curriculum geared to help students do well
c. Students respond well. Quote: “I am not Superman, but I will be more than a
bird, or even a plane”
d. Key success factor is having teachers with passion and training to build
students’ self-esteem, resilience and social and emotional skills
e. Learning from the institutions’ success, we will set up two more specialised
schools for N(T) students
67. Students have many routes at post-secondary level
a. Important to ensure that all of them graduate with relevant skills, and can find
good jobs
68. Polytechnics
a. Five polys are doing well
b. More students applying to polys, quality high
c. Doing courses which lead to exciting careers, e.g. in pharmaceuticals
69. Will enhance the poly route:
a. Will expand the existing five polys, and upgrade the older ones, costing $700
b. Will introduce “through-train” for N(A) students to go to poly
i. Students who do well at N-levels can opt for a one-year Foundation
Programme at Poly, instead of doing the O-Levels
c. Will enable more poly diploma holders to go on to pursue degrees
i. Singapore Institute of Technology started this year, offering 500 places
70. NAFA and LaSalle
a. Doing a good job educating students in the arts, design and media space
b. Strong demand for these skills
i. Not just to do NDP shows
ii. Also IRs and entertainment industry
iii. Digital media industry
c. Support new pathways for young Singaporeans with such talents
d. Government will support NAFA and LaSalle to team up with good overseas
institutions to offer degree programmes
71. Universities
a. On course to admit 30% of cohort by 2015 (currently 26%)
b. More Singaporeans than ever are making it to university (and getting good jobs
upon graduation)
72. Our universities are very good, but have a complex job educating a broad range of
a. Top universities in the world – Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, or Beida – admit
from top 0.5% of cohort
b. To excel, our universities must provide more options and peaks within the
system, to stretch the outstanding students
73. Important to offer our top students excellent local options for tertiary education
a. Many will continue to study overseas, in prestigious universities
b. But must enable more to do their undergraduate degree in Singapore
c. Spend their formative years in a top class local university
d. Later they may do a post-graduate programme overseas
e. But they will already have bonded with their peer group
74. NUS, NTU and SMU have been doing this
a. Multi-disciplinary programmes
b. Exciting internships
c. Opportunities for global exposure – 1/3 to 1/2 of each cohort get some form of
overseas exposure
75. New plans
a. Update – Singapore University of Technology and Design
i. Collaboration with MIT and Zhejiang University
ii. Recruiting now; classes will start in 2012
iii. Some (future) students went to a international robotics competition in
Shanghai recently, and won the 2nd and 3rd prize
b. Update – NUS University Town
i. A “college system” like Cambridge and Oxford
ii. Residential – at least 2 years out of 4
iii. Overall environment organised around learning, where students can come
together, engage and spark off ideas
iv. Plans on track
(1) Currently under construction
(2) When finished will be a beautiful, well-equipped campus
c. Imperial College-NTU Medical School
i. With a bigger, ageing population, we need more doctors
(1) Expanding the NUS school
(2) Started the Duke-NUS Medical School
(3) Topping up with overseas recruitment
(4) But we need to train more ourselves
ii. We will start a new medical school in NTU, with Imperial College, one of
the leading medical schools in Britain
iii. Create more spaces for Singaporeans who want to study medicine, and
also attract good international students
76. These new programmes will be expensive
a. But we must invest in the next generation
b. Government spending on tertiary education will rise
c. New programmes will continue to be heavily subsidised, but fees will have to
be higher
d. We will give generous scholarships, bursaries and loans so that promising
students can attend regardless of family circumstances
e. Keep fees affordable for everyone
77. One source of university funding that we should build up is donations and
a. Enable universities to launch new initiatives that benefit students, without
depending too much on direct government funding
b. To fund students who need financial support
c. All three universities have instituted the class gift
d. This year 70% of fresh NTU graduates donated to the university
78. Existing universities have built up their endowments
a. Government will help them to do more
b. Committing close to $4 bn over 20 years to build up endowments
i. Create a Singapore Universities Trust
ii. Set aside $2 bn in the Trust, to ensure financial support through economic
c. Provide 3-to-1 matching to donations to endowments to new projects, for a
period. And 1.5-to-1 for existing universities
d. Hope public will respond, especially alumni
79. US universities particularly good at tapping their alumni, especially Ivy League
a. They have strong alumni networks
b. Raise funds
c. Give expert advice
d. Even parents are roped in, as soon as the child is admitted
80. We should emulate the US example, and build the culture of alumni taking a strong
interest in their alma mater
a. NUS, NTU and SMU have made good starts
b. Encourage polytechnics and ITE to engage their alumni too
c. Many of their graduates have gone on to do well in life
d. They too should support their alma mater
e. To help polys and ITEs to build up endowments over time, the matching grants
will apply to them too
81. Our efforts ensure that students get a good education wherever they go
a. And have the opportunity to do well in their lives
b. This is the lasting and valuable legacy we can give to each and every one of
our sons and daughters
The Singapore Spirit
82. Education must imbue the next generation not just with knowledge
a. But also the Singapore spirit
83. What is this Singapore spirit?
a. Question especially relevant in an increasingly globalised world, as Singapore
grows more cosmopolitan, and hosts more visitors each year
b. We are proud of our Asian cultures and heritage – Chinese, Indian, Malay, and
others, and want to keep them alive and vibrant
c. But the Singapore spirit is not based on a common race, language or religion
d. It is based on:
i. Shared values like multi-racialism, meritocracy, and respect for every
ii. Shared loyalty and commitment to Singapore
iii. Shared responsibility for one another, and pride in what we have built
iv. Shared memories, as well as dreams and aspirations
e. The Singapore spirit is:
i. The determination that makes us press on when things are tough, like in
the recession last year
ii. The trust that keeps us close even when external forces threaten to split
us, like when we encountered extremist terrorism
iii. The competence, quiet pride and discipline that makes sure we do things
right, like hosting a YOG
iv. The confidence that we will prevail come what may
f. It is the spirit in each of us
i. Which makes Singapore work the way it does
ii. Which makes Singaporeans special
g. As Rajaratnam, who drafted the National Pledge, wrote:
“Being a Singaporean is not a matter of ancestry. It is conviction and choice.”
84. We must maintain a Singaporean core in our society, stiffened by this Singapore
a. Around this core, we can gather talent and resources, and use them to build a
better Singapore
b. Keep an open architecture – protect the kernel, but adapt and extend the
system as circumstances change
85. We must pass this spirit to the next generation
a. So that they have the same conviction, and make the right choice for
b. Through our schools, but also many other activities:
i. Community involvement
ii. Pursuing passionate causes
iii. Tackling daunting challenges
c. Important for youth to try many new things
i. Learning about the world
ii. Discovering their own abilities
iii. Gaining confidence and maturity
86. We do our best to give our youth such exposure
a. Encourage youth to develop a social conscience
i. e.g. care for those less fortunate than they are (Young NTUC visiting a
Seniors Home)
ii. e.g. protect the environment (youths releasing horseshoe crabs from an
abandoned drift net at Chek Jawa]
b. Support youth to pursue diverse passions
i. e.g. sports and social activities (cheerleading supported by YEC under
People’s Association)
ii. e.g. even extreme sports (Xtreme SkatePark @ East Coast Park)
87. Glad many youths are also venturing abroad
a. Volunteering in countries all around us
b. With community or religious groups, Mercy Relief, the Youth Expedition Project,
or Singapore International Foundation (SIF)
c. Doing disaster relief, providing medical care, building schools and houses,
giving tuition
d. e.g. Mr Alvan Yap
i. Hearing-impaired, but graduated from NUS and works in the publishing
ii. Active as a volunteer
iii. This January, he went on SIF’s Singapore Volunteers Overseas programme
to Dili, Timor Leste
iv. There for a year, teaching deaf children (and some adults) proper sign
language plus basic numeracy and literacy
v. Alvan is a role model and inspiration for the kids
vi. Here he is with his students
vii. Alvan is back in Singapore for a short break, but soon he will be off to
Timor Leste again
e. Hope more young people will venture forth like Alvan, pursue their dreams and
make a difference to others
88. One thing we cannot do is purposely to create hard times to toughen up our youth
a. We have tried our best to do the opposite: to create stable, favourable
conditions in Singapore for young people to grow up in
b. Last year’s financial crisis might have been a major test, but we emerged more
quickly than we had expected
c. But the world remains a dangerous place
d. Nobody can say what the next 50 years will bring, or promise that it will be as
stable, peaceful and prosperous as the last 50
89. Dr Goh Keng Swee also worried about this
a. In his speech in 1984, he said:
“A new generation is emerging. This generation has never experienced hardship.
Some of my colleagues, when making this statement, seem to imply that the new
generation has thereby committed some gross misdemeanour. Of course this is not
b. The “new generation” Dr Goh was talking about was not today’s youth, but my
c. In the quarter century since he spoke, I think Singapore has coped not too
d. Now my generation is similarly concerned about today’s youth
90. No fault not to have experienced hard times
a. There will be challenges and crises enough in your lifetimes
b. We will prepare you the best we can, and hope that the first time you
encounter a real crisis, you will survive the baptism of fire and emerge stronger, and
so will Singapore
91. When Dr Goh passed away in May, Singaporeans were reminded of his enormous
contributions to Singapore, especially in the economy, defence and education
a. Many lamented that the younger generation know too little of what Dr Goh did,
or how much we owe him
b. They suggested naming something after him, so that Singaporeans would
always be reminded of what he has done
c. I agree
92. Defence
a. Dr Goh was instrumental in building up the SAF
b. Not just hardware – tanks and fighter jets, or battalions and squadrons
c. But a thinking SAF, with capable commanders and staffs and soldiers who can
out-wit and out-manoeuvre adversaries
d. Today, much of the hardware Dr Goh acquired has already been superseded by
more advanced equipment
e. But his emphasis on developing talent, and a thinking SAF, endures
f. The Singapore Command and Staff College (SCSC) is the highest institution for
training senior officers in the SAF
g. It has a handsome home in SAFTI MI
h. All officers headed for senior positions in the SAF will sooner or later attend
advanced courses in SCSC
i. We will rename SCSC as the “Goh Keng Swee Command and Staff College” in
his honour
93. Education
a. In 1979, Dr Goh became Education Minister, and totally revamped the
education system
i. Made teaching systematic
ii. Introduced streaming
iii. Fostered a high quality, professional teaching service
b. He began the process of continuous improvement that has created an
education system that is admired all over the world
c. Foundation for all the plans I described earlier
d. MOE is expanding its HQ at North Buona Vista Road, and building a Phase II
Headquarters Building
e. The complex will house a new Academy of Singapore Teachers and specialist
academies for English Language, PE, Sports and the Arts
i. Like Academy of Law, to upgrade professionalism of teachers
f. Complex will be the “nerve centre” of Singapore Education, and a symbol of the
importance of education to our young and our future
g. We will name it the “Goh Keng Swee Centre for Education”
94. Dr Goh did not make his contributions alone
a. He was part of a team of founding fathers who built our nation
b. Besides MM Lee and Dr Goh, they included Rajaratnam, Othman Wok, Lim Kim
San, Hon Sui Sen, E W Barker, Toh Chin Chye and others
c. They were a multi-racial team, with a vision to build a multi-racial Singapore
d. They had experienced and fought racial politics and racial policies while in
e. They were determined to make Singapore different
f. In this they succeeded, though the work of building a multi-racial, multi-
religious nation will never be complete
g. In fact the founding fathers played a key role in creating the Singapore spirit
i. Before their generation, the peoples living in Singapore held separate
loyalties to different countries – China, India, Indonesia
ii. Many saw Singapore not as a nation, but as a place to make a living
iii. They dreamed of returning to their birthplaces to retire and die
iv. It was the founding fathers and their generation which conceived of and
championed a Malayan identity, and later a Singaporean identity
v. Through the fight for independence, the battles against communists and
communalists, and then the decades of nation building, led by the founding
fathers, the Singapore spirit gradually took shape
h. Important that the nation remembers the founding fathers properly
i. Not just out of gratitude
ii. But to stay true to the ideals that they fought for
iii. And continue striving to be “one united people, regardless of race,
language or religion”
i. Not yet time to decide how to do this
i. But something we should think about for the future
95. While we remember the past, we must look forward to the future
a. Dr Goh in the same speech called on a new generation of leaders to come forth
and take Singapore forward
b. Here is what he said:
“You will then regard the present condition of the Republic not as a pinnacle of
achievement but as a base from which to scale new heights”
96. Singapore has indeed scaled many new heights since Dr Goh retired
a. High quality HDB townships
b. Schools, hospitals, Changi airport, MRT
c. Green and blue spaces all over the island
d. A new city centre is taking shape at Marina Bay
i. Recently connected up walkways all around the bay
ii. Already a favourite destination for Singaporeans and visitors alike
iii. Getting recognised all over the world as the icon of Singapore
97. The YOG Opening and Closing ceremonies were held at Marina Bay
a. Spectacular shows, and backdrop
b. Congratulate the organisers and performers
c. And the creative minds behind the show
98. Singaporeans took part enthusiastically in the YOG
a. Clearly shown in response to Journey of the Olympic Flame
i. Torch travelled from Olympia to five cities on five continents before
coming to Singapore
ii. In Singapore, many participated and celebrated as the torch made its way
through our heartlands and city
iii. Including one extra runner who warmed our hearts – Low Wei Jie
iv. Finally to Darren Choy, who lit the Olympic flame at Marina Bay
b. SYOGOC staff and volunteers, teachers and students all did a magnificent job
i. 30,000-strong, all fired up
ii. Mostly Singaporean, but quite a few international volunteers
iii. At your posts, rain or shine, always cheerful, courteous, energetic
iv. Putting on your best for the world
c. The Games Village was vibrant and full of life
i. Our schools were twinned with the 204 other National Olympic
Committees, and put up World Culture booths to welcome our guests warmly
(Bosnia and Herzegovina booth by Choa Chu Kang Secondary School)
d. Our Young Olympians put in their best (Rainer Ng)
i. All our swimmers achieved personal best times, and so did many of the
other athletes
ii. Altogether Singapore won 2 silver and 5 bronze medals
iii. Bravo, Team Singapore
e. I watched the first Singapore vs. Montenegro football game (Brandon Koh
bicycle-kicking the ball which Jeffrey Lightfoot headed it into the net)
i. Under 15s
ii. Our team was physically much smaller built
iii. But the Singapore Cubs had good skills, close teamwork, and fighting
iv. We won 3-2
v. And went on to win the bronze medal
99. The IOC, youth athletes and visitors were all impressed
a. Quote letter in ST by a German volunteer (Uwe H. Kaufmann):
“If, like me, you were at ground zero, you would not have missed the deafening
din of positive reactions from representatives of the rest of the world about
Singapore. Why? Because Singapore has fleshed out an idea into reality - and
belief. So, whenever I am asked about my origin, I answer unfailingly and with
pleasure: ‘I am a Singaporean volunteer.’ And by the way, I love the catered
b. Quote a Canadian who congratulated me in the Games Village: Singapore had
“cleared the bar”
c. Congratulate SYOGOC, volunteers, and all Singaporeans for a job well done
100. YOG journey shows what Singapore is about
a. Aim high
b. Prepare well
c. Work together
d. Deliver results
101. Ours is a young nation
a. Other countries have longer histories, and can claim greater past glories
b. But Singapore distinguishes itself by its people
i. Forward looking and idealistic
ii. Daring to transform ourselves and our city again and again
102. Our future is bright
a. I cannot promise you an effortless cruise – nobody can
b. We will face storms and challenges, and from time to time difficult choices
c. But the next decade promises to be a golden period for Asia, and hence for
103. We may be small, but we are in a very strong position
a. We have educated our people
b. Reinforced our talent pool
c. Worked closely together
d. Delivered results
e. Won respect for Singapore
104. With good leadership, and a close-knit team
a. Imbued with the Singapore spirit
b. We will seize the opportunities around us
And take our nation to the next level