SINGAPORE - Singapore has much to celebrate this National Day, as its hard work upgrading the economy looks set to reap benefits, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (August 12).
The economy is expected to grow by around 2.5 per cent this year - higher than last year's 2 per cent - and this has lifted wages, and created more jobs for Singaporeans.
Productivity is also rising, said PM Lee at a National Day dinner in his Teck Ghee ward in Ang Mo Kio GRC: "This is encouraging. It shows that our policies are working. We are able to upgrade our economy, and we are able steadily to improve everybody's lives."
While there is much to cheer about, more work lies ahead, he said.
The Future Economy Council is working closely with unions and industries to implement industry transformation maps to get different sectors ready for the future.
And Singapore is also helping workers who have been displaced to retrain and reskill through the national SkillsFuture initiative, and match them to new jobs, PM Lee added.
Speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English to 2,500 Ang Mo Kio GRC residents, PM Lee touched on topics ranging from the importance of education to improvements around Teck Ghee.
In his Malay speech, he highlighted how Singapore's economic growth has been made possible because of its heavy investment in education.
Singaporeans are educated, skilled, and well-positioned for the new economy, he said, noting that many Malay students in institutes of higher learning are pursuing technical courses such as engineering, digital arts and programming.
Now, the Government is investing more in pre-school - an important foundation - as well, added Mr Lee.
"I'm glad that more Malay children are attending pre-school so that future generations of Singapore Malays can continue to participate fully in the opportunities created, and we can continue to progress together as one united people," he said.
"This is what our first president, Encik Yusof Ishak, has envisioned: a modern Singapore that is meritocratic and multiracial. All Singaporeans are committed to building and defending Singapore."
And if all goes well, Singapore will see another Malay president soon, said Mr Lee. The upcoming presidential election in September is reserved for Malay candidates.
"I hope we will have one whom all Singaporeans will be proud of, one who is as well-loved and respected as Encik Yusof Ishak," he said.
In his speeches in Mandarin and English, Mr Lee said the country has dealt with many critical issues internationally and politically this year, but it also needs to prepare itself for the distant future.
He had in his National Day message identified three topics to help Singapore thrive in the future: improving pre-school education, preventing diabetes and embracing technology in the country's drive to be a Smart Nation. These will feature in his National Day Rally speech on Aug 20, he said.
PM Lee also took stock of how Teck Ghee has fared: close to 400 babies were born to families in the ward since last year, residents are moving in to the new Build-to-Order development Teck Ghee Parkview, and projects to upgrade existing flats are underway.
"We can continue to make these local improvements in Teck Ghee because we have a stable and prosperous country, and a Government that is dedicated to improving the lives of the people and planning for the future," Mr Lee said.
"The Government will do its best to ensure that Singapore continues to progress and stay ahead."