These are the text and photos of the Prime Minister's 2016 New Year Message by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
What were your most memorable moments of 2015? For me, four moments in particular stood out.
PASSING OF MR LEE
The first was on March 29, when we sent off our founding prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Singaporeans lined the streets to bid him a final farewell. The rain was pouring. As the gun carriage left Parliament House, people shouted his name. I was deeply moved to see everyone's faces - drenched, grieving, but not downcast. We were one people, grateful for what our pioneers had achieved, resolved to take Singapore further forward. (See photo 1)
The second moment was the weekend of July 4. Over three days, I attended five events - an SG50 Catholic mass; the Jubilee Day of Prayer organised by Protestant churches; a Harmony in Diversity concert organised by the Taoist Federation and New Creation Church; and two iftars - one in Al-Ansar Mosque, and the other organised by Jalan Kayu grassroots organisations as part of a Racial Harmony Night.
Together, the events reflected the diversity of our society, our racial and religious harmony, and the Singapore identity which we have built over the past 50 years. (See photo 2)
NATIONAL DAY PARADE CELEBRATIONS
My third moment was on Aug 9, when we celebrated our Golden Jubilee at the Padang. It was not just the scale of the mobile column and flypast, but also the Singapore story told through the lives of ordinary Singaporeans past and present. That is why when our pioneer soldiers marched past, we gave them our loudest cheer.
Our schoolchildren in LED costumes put up an energetic and spectacular performance to end the show on a high note. They reminded me why we are building Singapore and gave me confidence that they can chase their own rainbows and take Singapore higher and further. (See photo 3)
As SG50 ends, the next chapter of the Singapore Story begins. We live in a very different world from our pioneers 50 years ago... Our economy is slowing down and undergoing transition. We cannot expect an easy journey ahead. But the journey can be every bit as exciting as the first 50 years. Because we know come what may - challenges, disappointments and sorrows - we will be here for one another.
The fourth moment was on Sept 11, the Polling Day of the general election. Which direction would Singapore go? Which team would we choose to lead us forward?
As the results came in, I felt gratified and happy that voters had delivered a big win for Singapore. We were united in our desire to secure our shared future, to achieve the best for Singapore. As I joined our supporters at Toa Payoh Stadium that night, I took a photo of a supporter who had brought her baby along to share this historic moment. It encapsulated what the election was about - our people and our future. (See photo 4)
Why did I find these four moments memorable?
Because they showed the world - and ourselves - what a determined and united people can do; why Singapore is a shining red dot.
Despite the threats of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and jihadist terrorism, when other societies are troubled by intolerance and racial tensions, here in Singapore we rejoice in our multiracial harmony.
Where other countries are mired in political gridlock and pessimistic for the next generation, we in Singapore are united, hopeful and confident about our future.
But most of all, these were moments when we came together, and took responsibility for one another. We wept, we sang, we celebrated, we bonded together, and emerged stronger as one united people.
As SG50 ends, the next chapter of the Singapore Story begins. We live in a very different world from our pioneers 50 years ago. Yes, we have many more opportunities in the globalised world, but we also face fiercer competition. Yes, we have more resources, but we also have higher aspirations. Our economy is slowing down and undergoing transition. We cannot expect an easy journey ahead.
But the journey can be every bit as exciting as the first 50 years. Because we know come what may - challenges, disappointments and sorrows - we will be here for one another. We will celebrate our successes together, because we know we can only succeed together. The Future of Us exhibition gives us a glimpse of the future we can have. Through the SGFuture conversations, we will all play a part in writing the Singapore Story.
Our future is for us to make together, and I look forward to travelling the road ahead with all of you.
Happy New Year!
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'Four moments Memorable moments from 2015... and many more to come'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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