Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong has exhorted citizens to focus on three longer-term issues for Singapore, including pre-school, war on diabetes and the goal of making the island country into a Smart Nation in his National Day message.
Preparing young Singaporeans for a bright future
Stressing the need for preparing young Singaporeans for the new world, PM Lee said, “Every child should have a good start in life and a bright future. To this end, there have been investments in pre-schools because the early childhood years make a big difference to children not just academically, but for life.”
He added, “The Government will create more pre-school places, raise the quality of these schools and upgrade the profession of pre-school teachers.”
PM Lee said, “More and better pre-schools will also take a major load off parents. Parents will have peace of mind when they are working, knowing that their kids are in good hands. We want to support them and encourage them to start a family.”
Call for fighting diabetes
The Prime Minister also called for fighting diabetes as it is a major disease afflicting the elderly. He observed that though there are good doctors and hospitals here, it is better for the people to stay healthy and not go to one at all.
He said, “A big reason for ill health in old age is diabetes, with almost a third of those over 60 having the disease. At first, diabetes is an invisible disease. But over time, its consequences are severe – blindness, heart disease, kidney failure, amputated limbs.”
This is why the country must “go all out” to fight diabetes, he said, adding that it depends crucially on personal choices and lifestyles to prevent it in the first place.
He said, “Each one of us must take responsibility for our own health. Each one of us must make the effort to watch our lifestyle and diet, to exercise regularly, to drink plain water instead of soft drinks. And this must start from young. That is the way to reduce the risk of diabetes, stay healthy and live well.”
Clarion call for transforming Singapore into a Smart Nation
While reflecting on the country’s Smart Nation ambitions, PM Lee stressed for making full use of information and technology (IT) to create opportunities and jobs here and make Singapore an “outstanding place to live, work and play”.
He pointed out that the country has a natural advantage: It is a highly connected and digitally literate society. “We even have more smartphones than people,” Mr Lee said, but added that it must do much better.
He added,“By using IT for practical applications, big and small, we can improve our lives, and make this a fun and happening place.”
He also spoke on the current challenges grappling the nation including terrorism and international trade becoming more insular.
He said, “Terrorism is a major threat with frequent attacks around the world and closer to home. International trade, a key engine of our growth, is at risk from protectionism.
Despite the challenges, he added, “We are busy upgrading our economy. Our students and workers are mastering new skills and staying up to date with technology.”