Wages, jobs, productivity up but more work lies ahead: PM

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meeting young performers at the Teck Ghee National Day dinner yesterday. Noting that productivity is rising, Mr Lee said: "This is encouraging... We are able to upgrade our economy, and we are able steadily to improve
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meeting young performers at the Teck Ghee National Day dinner yesterday. Noting that productivity is rising, Mr Lee said: "This is encouraging... We are able to upgrade our economy, and we are able steadily to improve everybody's lives."ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Singapore has much to celebrate this National Day, as its hard work upgrading the economy looks set to reap benefits, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

The economy is expected to grow by around 2.5 per cent this year - higher than last year's 2 per cent - and this has lifted wages, and created more jobs for Singaporeans.

Productivity is also rising, Mr Lee said at a National Day dinner in his Teck Ghee ward in Ang Mo Kio GRC: "This is encouraging. It shows that our policies are working. We are able to upgrade our economy, and we are able steadily to improve everybody's lives."

While there is much to cheer, more work lies ahead, Mr Lee said.

The Future Economy Council is working closely with unions and industries to implement industry transformation maps to get different sectors ready for the future.

Singapore is also helping workers who have been displaced to retrain and reskill through the national SkillsFuture initiative, and match them to new jobs, he added.

Speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English to 2,500 Ang Mo Kio GRC residents, Mr Lee touched on topics ranging from the importance of education to improvements around Teck Ghee.

In his Malay speech, he highlighted how Singapore's economic growth has been made possible because of its heavy investment in education.

Singaporeans are educated, skilled, and well-positioned for the new economy, he said, noting that many Malay students in institutes of higher learning are pursuing technical courses such as engineering, digital arts and programming.

Now, the Government is investing more in pre-school - an important foundation - as well, added Mr Lee.

"I'm glad that more Malay children are attending pre-school so that future generations of Singapore Malays can continue to participate fully in the opportunities created, and we can continue to progress together as one united people," he said.

"This is what our first president, Encik Yusof Ishak, had envisioned: a modern Singapore that is meritocratic and multiracial. All Singaporeans are committed to building and defending Singapore."

And if all goes well, Singapore will see another Malay president soon, said Mr Lee. Next month's presidential election is reserved for Malay candidates.

"I hope we will have one whom all Singaporeans will be proud of, one who is as well-loved and respected as Encik Yusof Ishak," he said.

In his speeches in Mandarin and English, Mr Lee said the country has dealt with many critical issues internationally and politically this year, but it also needs to prepare itself for the distant future.

In his National Day message last week, he had identified three topics to help Singapore thrive: improving pre-school education, preventing diabetes and embracing technology in the drive to be a Smart Nation. These will feature in his National Day Rally speech this Sunday.

Mr Lee also took stock of how Teck Ghee has fared: close to 400 babies have been born to families in the ward since last year, residents are moving in to the new Build-To-Order development Teck Ghee Parkview, and projects to upgrade existing flats are under way.

"We can continue to make these local improvements in Teck Ghee because we have a stable and prosperous country, and a Government that is dedicated to improving the lives of the people and planning for the future," Mr Lee said.

"The Government will do its best to ensure that Singapore continues to progress and stay ahead."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Wages, jobs, productivity up but more work lies ahead: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe