Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s new year message is one of confidence and hope, but also caution. It is not an unexpected message, given the occasion – a nation celebrating the dawn of a new year – and Mr Lee being the leader of that nation.
But his message is spot on – despite the tough challenges which lay ahead, and the global gloom which jihadist terrorism and a slowing world economy have cast – Singaporeans can remain relatively confident about their future.
Mr Lee, however, predicated his message of hope on one thing – that Singaporeans stood together as one.
He gave four instances in 2015 where he said the people had showed this oneness of spirit.
The death of former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.
PM Lee said, of the crowds which had turned out to pay their last respects to his father, “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.”
The second occasion was the SG50 celebrations. “[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,” he said.
The NDP celebrations in August also gave Mr Lee a glimpse of “the Singapore story told through the lives of ordinary Singaporeans past and present.”
“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.”
The fourth instance where Singaporeans showed oneness of spirit, Mr Lee said, was during the general elections in September.
“As the results came in, I felt gratified and happy that voters had delivered a big win for Singapore.,” Mr Lee said. “We were united in our desire to secure our shared future, to achieve the best for Singapore.”
Mr Lee said these examples showed “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 and jihadist terrorism, when other societies are troubled by intolerance and racial tensions, here in Singapore we rejoice in our multi-racial harmony,” he added. “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.”
Mr Lee then sounded a word of caution amidst the upbeat message.
“We live in a very different world from our pioneers fifty 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.”
Nonetheless, the journey can be every bit as exciting as the first 50 years, he said.
“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.”
Watch Mr Lee deliver his new year message here: