National Day Rally 2016: PM Lee on what Singapore can look forward to in 2030 and beyond

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about what the next generation can look forward to in 2030 during his National Day Rally on Aug 21, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about what the next generation can look forward to in 2030 during his National Day Rally on Aug 21, 2016.PHOTO: LEE HSIEN LOONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore is at another threshold of development, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, as he glanced at the country's past and gazed into Singapore's future at the National Day Rally on Sunday (Aug 21).

Mr Lee resumed his speech at about 10.40pm after being taken unwell in the middle of his English speech about an hour earlier.

He was feeling unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration, the Prime Minister's Office said.

His return was greeted by thunderous applause and a standing ovation by the audience at the rally.

He said that he will continue speaking about the elected presidency at another occasion, but it was important to take a longer look at Singapore's future.

Singapore will transform over the decades but "intangible" qualities will be what keeps it advancing, said the Prime Minister at the Institute of Technical Education.

Since 2001, when the world was shocked by the events of Sept 11, Singapore has transformed.

Tourists walking along the path leading to the Helix Bridge and Marina Bay Sands. PHOTO: ST FILE

Marina Bay, Punggol and One-North were developed, Singapore is now a city in a garden and wildlife is coming back, he said.

"We have hornbills again…. And we have an otter family, famous on BBC, visiting different parts of Singapore!" Mr Lee said.

The last 15 years have also brought challenges including terrorism, Sars and the global financial crisis.

"They did not break us, we drew closer together," said Mr Lee. "Now, we are at the threshold again, looking ahead to the next phase of our nation-building."

Terrorism is more serious a threat than ever, and the economy is at a turning point. Like in 2001, the ruling party has a strong mandate with a landslide election win, he said.

Looking forward to 2030, what can the next generation expect?

An artist's impression of the Woodlands Regional Centre. PHOTO: HDB

Mr Lee enumerated the urban development plans for Singapore, which were earlier announced: A business district, the high-speed rail and the Jurong Innovation District in the west; Woodlands Regional Centre and the Singapore Institute of Technology campus in the north.

Eight in 10 homes will be within 10-minutes walk of a train station, and more cycling paths will be built, he said. The Rail Corridor, parks and waterways will mean more greenery.

For future parents, of which he hoped there will be many, there will be accessible pre-schools of high quality.

"With some luck our total fertility rate (TFR) will be at least 1.6, maybe extra 1.68!" he said.

Last year, Singapore's TFR was a dismal 1.24, which was slightly higher than the average of 1.22 in the first half of this decade.

Beyond 2030, PM Lee sketched in more transformations in Singapore's landscape.

An artist's impression of the Southern Waterfront City. PHOTO: URA

Terminals 4 and 5 at the Changi Airport will be ready and so will the Greater Southern Waterfront City.

"Paya Lebar Airbase will have moved to Changi, and the entire eastern region will be ready for us to re-imagine!" he said.

But he devoted the concluding passages of his speech to the "intangibles", which are "even more important".

SG50 strengthened Singaporeans' sense of nationhood and togetherness, but the best is yet to come, said Mr Lee.

Singapore is "a nation, where a young Singapore boy can achieve his dream" he said to applause, referring to Joseph Schooling's gold medal win in the 100m butterfly at the Olympic Games on Aug 13.

Young Joseph Schooling. PHOTO: WILLY FOO

It is a nation where "every Singaporean has a place", he said.

Singapore's spirit of ambition, perseverance and unity will ensure it advances.

"We will be tested as one people, and we must not be found wanting," he said.

Mr Lee added that what he wishes for Singapore is "divine discontent".

He recounted that a participant at a dialogue asked him what three things he would ask for Singapore from God.

"If I asked for material things, we will regret it, because after you have got it and consumed it, you've enjoyed it, you will not be be satisfied, you will want more. But what I would like is that we be blessed with a divine discontent - always dissatisfied with where we are, always driven to do better," he said.

"At the same time, that we have the wisdom to count our blessings - know how precious Singapore is, and we know how to enjoy it and how to protect it."

If these two wishes are fulfilled, he said, Singapore will continue to be special.

Mr Lee received another standing ovation as he ended with a smile and a wave.