Singaporeans have a good country today because everyone has worked together to build it up, said Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean yesterday.
For Singapore, it was not an issue of one group taking from another or fighting with each other, he said.
Instead the nation was built together "so that we could have more to progress together", he said at the launch of Pasir Ris Primary School's SG50 exhibition and trail, and its Sing Singapore Carnival.
Reflecting on Singapore's separation from Malaysia 50 years ago, DPM Teo said it meant the Republic could "make our own way with the world, make our own decisions and build a country ourselves".
Things might be different if the separation did not happen, he noted. "I think you can just imagine where we would be today, what kind of country we would be, what kinds of issues and problems that we may be facing here," he said.
Addressing students, teachers and parents, DPM Teo, who is also MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said it saddened him that the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew is not around to celebrate the nation's Golden Jubilee on Aug 9.
"But let us live up to his ideals, to the dreams of him and his founding generation of Singaporeans and re-dedicate ourselves, continue to build Singapore upon those ideals for the future so that our kids can have a bright future ahead," he said.
At the event yesterday, Pasir Ris Primary showcased a collection of 50 stories and memories of students and their family members spanning the past five decades.
They were organised according to five themes: our achievements; our favourites, our dreams, our memories; and our beliefs.
Primary 5 pupil Umme Salama, 11, said she learnt a lot from the stories and was fascinated in particular by stories of kampung life.
One contributor to the memories category was Mr Wong Tew Kiat, 53, parent of 12-year-old pupil Vanessa Wong.
Mr Wong, managing director of a business continuity management company, said he shared his story to outline the struggle previous generations faced in the lead-up to Singapore's success today.
"Power (blackouts) were common and we often had to study by candle light. We struggled, we suffered and were very poor.
"The children today are much luckier. I hope they appreciate how far we've come and treasure the moment," he said.