Singaporeans felt SG50 brought nation together: Poll

Minister Heng Swee Keat welcoming the first group of visitors to the Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay on Dec 1, 2015.
Minister Heng Swee Keat welcoming the first group of visitors to the Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay on Dec 1, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans polled in a survey said they felt that the celebration of Singapore's 50th year of independence had brought people closer, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at an interview earlier this month, he said the SG50 Programme Office had been doing monthly surveys since November last year to gauge people's feelings towards SG50.

People were asked if they knew about SG50 and whether they were excited about it, among other things. The polls showed growing interest and participation in the activities organised for the occasion.

"I'm very happy to say that, quarter after quarter, the numbers kept going up. So by now, everybody knows about SG50. They were excited about the events and they felt that the SG50 celebration brought us closer together as one people," said Mr Heng.

More than 500 initiatives were organised to celebrate Singapore's 50th year of independence, including the biggest National Day Parade and the Future Of Us exhibition.

APPRECIATION DEEPENED

The passing of Mr Lee was a low point of the celebration. I had briefed him more than once on what we were doing, and he was looking forward to it. But it also turned out to be the most reflective part of our SG50 events.

(His) passing deepened our appreciation for what he and the pioneer leaders, as well as our pioneer generation, had done. It certainly deepened the sense of unity and brought out the Singapore spirit.

MR HENG SWEE KEAT, on the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and its impact on SG50


NOT A PARTISAN EVENT

SG50 is not a partisan event. It is really about deep reflections: what have we learnt in 50 years, what are the lessons that will remain relevant for the future. We must not confuse this nation-building with being partisan. Of course, the People's Action Party was in power during all these 50 years. But what we built is really together with the people.

MR HENG, on comments in some quarters that SG50 was a year-long election campaign for the PAP

About 400 of the initiatives were started by ordinary Singaporeans. A celebration fund disbursed about $10 million to organisers of these ground-up projects.

"When we started (the fund), we weren't sure whether there would be many Singaporeans coming up with ideas. (In the end) we had an overwhelming response," said Mr Heng.

The celebration, he added, also led Singaporeans to appreciate the pioneer generation and the country's past, and to reflect on how Singapore overcame the odds.

Singaporeans were also inspired to take the country forward, he said as he wished for the energy to last.

"I hope that we will build on the Singapore spirit, stay united and... build an even more endearing home for every Singaporean."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2015, with the headline 'S'poreans felt SG50 brought nation together: Poll'. Print Edition | Subscribe