1.) Multi-racialism brought us here
Singapore separated from Malaysia because it believed in the ideal of a multiracial society. PM Lee added that before race, language, and religion, we should first and foremost, be Singaporean.
Besides making English the official working language and the medium of teaching in schools, GRCs (Group Representation Constituencies) were created so that minorities will always be well-represented in Parliament.
On the other hand, when delicate and difficult issues arose, PM Lee said “we dealt with them together”.
2.) He is really gutsy
Yes, PM Lee used words that you never imagined would turn up in a National Day Rally speech.
When talking about Singapore’s relations with Malaysia, he used the phrase “crazy politician” when referring to Malaysian politicians who have time and again threatened to stop its water supply to Singapore.
3.) Higher income ceilings to increase home ownership
The income ceilings for first-time buyers of HDB flats and Executive Condominiums (ECs) will be raised from $10,000 to $12,000 for HDB flats and $12,000 to $14,000 for ECs. This will allow more households to buy HDB flats and ECs.
The Special CPF Housing Grant will be extended to cover more households as well.
4.) He is generous with compliments
In his English speech, he complimented and recounted how his team helped to put Singapore on the global map.
He also complimented Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan for working behind the scenes of the UN Climate Change Conference in Peru last year and helping to bridge the gaps between different countries and putting together a deal which countries could agree upon.
5.) Punggol is the new place to be
(Photo Credit: Straits Times)
Around 20 years ago, Singaporeans heard about Punggol 21 in then-Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong’s National Day Rally in 1996.
In 2007, PM Lee unveiled an improved plan for the town – known as Punggol 21-plus.
At yesterday’s rally, PM Lee revealed Punggol 21 A-Plus, which consists of the new Singapore Institute of Technology which will be integrated into Punggol Downtown and HDB’s upcoming Northshore District.
6.) He is very humble
He openly admits that he can’t sing. So he got homegrown singer Kit Chan to perform the crowd-favourite “Home”, a song which she dedicated to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
He shared that one of the high points for him during the National Day Parade was when the entire crowd joined Kit Chan to sing “Home”.
“So loudly that we could hear ourselves,” said PM Lee.
7.) More Singaporeans can work longer
PM Lee revealed that by 2017, the Government will legislate to raise the re-employment age from 65 to 67.
The current re-employment age of 65 which was introduced three years ago is working well according to PM Lee.
This means that employees who reach the retirement age of 62 can continue to be employed in the company if they meet the eligibility criteria of re-employment, up to age 67 by 2017.
8.) Slowdown of immigration and foreigners
Admitting that it is a sensitive topic to raise even at the rally, PM Lee said that the government has adjusted its policies such as the upgrading of infrastructure, tightening of applications for Permanent Residency and citizenship, and ensuring the Singaporeans are treated fairly at work.
But he cautioned that every option to handle this issue has a downside. Even something in-between has a trade-off.
9.) Neighbours problems can easily spill-over
Malaysia, he says, is our closest neighbor and partner. Because our two societies and economies remain closely intertwined, their problems can easily spill over and become our problems.
Similarly, if Indonesia is stable, “all its neighbours benefit. If Indonesia is in a state of flux, Southeast Asia will be affected…”
10.) This Rally was definitely something to prepare Singaporeans for #GE2015
The rally was interspersed with hints about the coming General Elections. A substantial amount of his speech saw him asking Singaporeans to support him and his team with a mandate to lead Singapore into the future.
In the Chinese portion of his speech, Prime Minister (PM) Lee joked that when people told him that they heard the elections were coming, he replied: “我也听到了” (I have also heard about it).
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