More than 1,000 residents of Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC gathered for their annual Chinese New Year constituency dinner yesterday, their first since long-time MP Lee Kuan Yew died on March 23 last year.
The GRC's anchor minister Chan Chun Sing said many have asked him how they could best honour the legacy of pioneers like Mr Lee, as the anniversary of Mr Lee's death approaches.
At the dinner in Bukit Merah View last night, Mr Chan suggested three ways: make sure Singapore continues to succeed, keep striving to do better and improve the lot of residents, and have the spirit and guts to dream big, just like the pioneer generation did.
The late Mr Lee, who had represented Tanjong Pagar since 1955, made it a point to attend the celebration every year until 2012.
Mr Chan, who is Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and labour chief, said in his speech: "Although Mr Lee isn't with us any more, I strongly believe the new generation of grassroots leaders and advisers will continue to embody Mr Lee's spirit and do a good job, an even better job."
He recalled Mr Lee having said that Singapore was his life's work. One way to honour him and his compatriots is to "make sure Singapore continues to be a shining success".
Mr Chan also called on Singaporeans to dream big and act on these dreams like the founding leaders.
"Our greatest hope is not to go down in history as being the best ever. Our aim is to lend our shoulders for the next generation of Singaporeans and leaders to stand even taller," he said.
The message struck a chord with grassroots leaders like retiree Francis Foo, 65, and secretary May Soh, 36. Ms Soh said one way people can recognise the contributions of pioneers is to continue to respect and help the elderly in ways they can.
Mr Foo said it was important for the community to stay united in spite of challenges such as security threats and an economic slowdown, which Mr Chan spoke about.
Mr Chan said one way to guard against the terrorism threat is for the wider community to stay united and not allow society to be torn apart by suspicions. "We must never be complacent," he said. "Should any unfortunate incident happen, we must make sure we react calmly and go about our daily life without allowing these bad elements to destroy the peace we have."
And while economic growth is expected to slow, Mr Chan said there was a silver lining as it is unlikely the challenges this year will be as severe as those in the global financial crisis of 2008. Therefore, there was no need to be "overly despondent".
Singapore's growth is expected to be a "respectable rate" of between 1 and 3 per cent this year, he noted.
He added that some sectors will continue to do well due to external forces such as falling oil prices.
And good jobs are still available as long as workers are prepared to train and improve their skills or pick up new ones.
It is also important for Singapore and its workers to be in the best position to seize opportunities when the economy gets better, he added.