National Day Rally to focus on giving S'poreans assurance, opportunities: PM Lee

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday shared more details about the main thrust of his National Day Rally speech on August 17, and said it will be on plans by the Government to give Singaporeans assurance and peace of mind.

The speech, he said, will touch on ensuring citizens have enough in their old age, creating more opportunities to allow Singaporeans to pursue their dreams, improving the living environment and building a "better and brighter future".

"You don't have to worry about very difficult things in life, such as medical care," said Mr Lee. "But you can have the assurance in order to reach for the stars to work to improve your lives."

Retirement adequacy has been in the focus of late with the Central Provident Fund the topic of debate and the new MediShield Life scheme set to be introduced.

Earlier this year when Parliament was re-opened after a break, PM Lee had said that there would be more details on CPF changes at his National Day Rally speech.

The National Day Rally, which will be held at the Institute of Technical Education College Central, is an annual address for the Prime Minister to give an update on the country's progress.

Before that is National Day this Saturday, and Mr Lee last night gave his speech in Malay, Mandarin and English at an early National Day dinner with a boisterous crowd of 2,500 residents from his Teck Ghee ward in Ang Mo Kio GRC.

Among them were 500 seniors from the Pioneer Generation.

On Friday he had given out the first 100 of about 450,000 pioneer generation cards, expected to reach all pioneers by the end of the month.

"This is something we are doing for all the pioneers in Singapore. It is our gesture to you, and thank you very much for all your contributions to Singapore," he said.

He invited pioneers in the dinner crowd to get to their feet to applause.

Pioneers - who have shaped the nation from its infancy - have taught Singaporeans the importance of looking out for each other, he said.

Within his ward itself, he pointed out, "we do all we can to take care of one another".

The Teck Ghee Active Ageing Club has more than 4,000 members, and youths actively lend a helping hand, visiting the elderly and underprivileged.

Mr Lee also announced last night that eight blocks of flats in Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 have been selected for the Home Improvement Programme, an upgrading scheme for older flats. This will benefit close to 1,200 homes - ranging from three- to five-room flats.

Other plans on the cards include new childcare centres and a larger polyclinic - with an eldercare centre- to replace the existing one by 2018.

Mr Lee also said in Malay that he was glad to see Muslims and non-Muslims alike coming together to support government efforts and to pray for peace both in and outside the country, including the Middle East.

The support for fundraising and community activities by mosques and Malay-Muslim organisations for victims of the crisis in Gaza is also heartening, he said.

"This shows we are concerned with the situation of those who are less fortunate, and those affected by disaster, regardless of race, religion or beliefs. This is the spirit we want to foster in our citizens," he said.