On the eve of Singapore National Day, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered an address full of hope and positivity for the island nation amidst a time of challenges and global upheavals.
The Prime Minister said that the ability to overcome the odds is evident in Singapore's history and that he was confident the country would emerge even stronger.
The annual address to the nation was delivered against the backdrop of Changi Airport’s stunning Jewel - PM Lee likened the Jewel to the Singaporean spirit to dare to do the new and do it first.
The Prime Minister also vowed that government would continue to “invest heavily” in Singaporeans, to enable every citizen to achieve their potential.
PM Lee revealed 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.
He noted that economic uncertainties, global strategic risks and the threat of climate change are great challenges ahead of Singapore.
"Each time, we reinvented and renewed our economy, our people and our city, and we thrived again. And this is what we must keep on doing," he said.
With global demand and international trade weakening, PM Lee said that Singapore’s manufacturing sector and trade-related services had been affected resulting in an economic slowdown.
"We have experienced such slowdowns before, and we will take this one in our stride," said the Prime Minister. "Should it become necessary to stimulate the economy, we will do so."
"Singapore will not be immune to these global problems. 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.
However, PM Lee also said that on the economic front Singapore is making good progress in transforming its industries with its seaport and airport being expanded to meet growing regional needs.
Additionally, Singapore’s tech and start-up scenes are flourishing, with agencies like Enterprise Singapore helping entrepreneurs and companies strengthen and expand into the international market.
“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.
PM Lee pledged that the government will keep on helping citizens to achieve their potential and contribute their best to Singapore.
As Singapore marks its bicentennial, Prime Minister Lee stressed that the nation’s growth and ability to face challenges ahead is a joint endeavour.
"Each one of us must strive to improve ourselves, do our best, and chase our dreams," he said.
"To stay in front of the pack, we must constantly come up with fresh ideas, always be ready to break new ground. 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," PM Lee added, wishing Singaporeans a happy National Day.