Thursday, 9 August 2012

Happy National Day, Singapore

PM Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Message 2012, 8 Aug 2012 

My Fellow Singaporeans,

1. We celebrate National Day amidst an unsettled world. Europe and the US face serious economic problems. Asia is doing better than other regions, but China and India are slowing down and tensions are simmering in the South China Sea.

2. Against this backdrop, Singapore is doing quite well. Our economy grew 1.7% in the first half of 2012 and we are on track for 1.5-2.5% growth for the year. Internationally, Singapore’s standing is high, whether with emerging countries like India and China or advanced nations like the US. Domestically, we are clearing the backlog of applicants for HDB flats, building more MRT lines and upgrading our bus services. Our GST Vouchers and U-Save rebates will help lower-income households cope with inflation.

3. Today Singapore is a success story, but the world is not standing still. The next two decades will be very different. The emerging economies in Asia are advancing rapidly. Breakthroughs in science and technology will transform our lives. Singapore will encounter many new challenges and opportunities. 

Opposition parties' National Day Message 2012

SPP's National Day message: “We Singaporeans must play a more active role to influence national

My fellow Singaporeans,

We remember 9 August 1965 as the day Singapore became an independent country under tough circumstances. We managed to build up an economy unrivalled globally, due to the unyielding spirit of our citizens in the 1960s and 70s, and the hard work of you, the people of Singapore.

Today, health care and housing costs are spiralling; retirement in Singapore is getting harder with an ever increasing CPF minimum sum; the elderly are expected to work well past the normal retirement age, often on low salaries. And yet we Singaporeans are expected to get things done as cheaply as possible. We cannot expect productivity to grow like this.

Is this the kind of Singapore that our forefathers worked so hard for? Is this the kind of Singapore you desire for yourselves or your children?

SDP's National Day video message -

WP's National Day video message -

“National Day is an important time for us to reflect and think about how we have evolved into the Singapore we have today. It is especially important to remember our pioneer generation… Every Singaporean has something special to contribute to Singapore. We are all different. But what we share, is Singapore as our home. And home, is where the heart is.” 

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The flag flies…

The hanging of flags in HDB estates is a practice that started in the 1980s. When it first began, the response was robust. You have almost every unit of HDB putting up their flags, voluntarily. If patriotism is measured by this spontaneous act, the index scores well.

In recent years, the number of flags hang had dwindled. A walk down through couple of neighbouring HDB estate showed a dearth in the display.

Can we naturally attribute this citizenry reluctance to their angst at the host of unpopular government policies that had caused deep resentment and widespread unhappiness?

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Ministries, organisations mark National Day with observance ceremonies 

Several ministries and organisations marked Singapore's National Day with observance ceremonies on Wednesday.

These included the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministries of Defence, Finance and National Development.

At the Istana, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam were treated to musical performances by youths

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Singaporeans in South Korea celebrate National Day 

SEOUL: As Singapore prepares for its National Day parade, it is far from being alone. The event is also being celebrated in other parts of the world.

This year, Singaporeans in South Korea held a special event to commemorate at the Singapore Pavilion in the southern port city of Yeosu.

The Singapore Pavilion is one of the most popular pavilions at Yeosu Expo, attracting more than 700,000 visitors since it opened on May 12. 

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Singapore - Reflections through the looking glass

(Photo / Your Singapore) 

On our nation’s birthday, and with it, our people’s day of celebration, it would be apt to pause for a little thought. Who are we, what have we done, what have we become, and where should we be going? Reflection is a thing not just done with mirrors. The mirror may look pristine, but sometimes also cracked at corners. And searching, inwards and out, is always good for the soul.

Are we too angry?

Of course we are. I’m shocked by the vitriol, foul language, bad manners, disrespect being spewed online, offline, in the scowling “bin orr orr” – Hokkien for face black black – waiting line at the supermart these days. And that’s just the stuff coming out of my mouth. I don’t know about you, but I’m angry about so many things, including Angry Birds. So, let’s take this time to reflect about how we can cool the temperature down, okay? You know how quickie quips go like “Upturn the downturn”? How about “Meditate to mediate”? I try. Don’t hate me for being cute. Hey man, I’m not spouting this public poetry for a million bucks. 

Do we hate foreigners? 

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I love Singapore because … 

National Day is here again! While we couldn't get 47 artistes to celebrate Singapore's 47th birthday with us, did manage to speak with seven Singapore celebrities to find out what they loved most about the Lion City, and what sort of country they hoped Singapore will become.

Which celebrity loves Singapore because it is a safe home? Who hopes Singapore will become a fully air-conditioned island? Read on to find out! 

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Happy to be S'porean

(Photo / Your Singapore)
Like some Singaporeans who were born and raised here, I’ve toyed with the idea of moving to live in a bigger, more vibrant city, preferable somewhere with a temperate climate.

Yet, tempting as those dreams may be, it is difficult to say whether I'll truly be comfortable enough to call another country my home.

Singapore has been called “Asia for beginners”, “the little red dot” and even crudely referred to as “a piece of snot”, I kid you not. But name-calling aside, the love-hate relationship with our tiny island will be something many Singaporeans will admit to having. 

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What does Singapore mean to you?

As we get ready to celebrate the nation's 47th birthday, inSing News asked both Singaporeans as well as non-Singaporeans, what the Lion City means to them.

Many said the country represented security, while others said there's nowhere better to live in. Quite a few also said due credit must be given to the government for making Singapore a safe place.

One man said he felt ''nothing'' because he claimed "Singapore has become like a playground for people from all over the world." 

Singaporeans urged to work together to forge greater cohesiveness

Singaporeans urged to work together to...

SINGAPORE : Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu has said that Singapore is home to all Singaporeans.

She urged all citizens to work together to forge greater cohesiveness.

She was speaking at a community event on Wednesday to celebrate Singapore's 47th National Day. 

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S'poreans must form backbone of country's workforce: Tan Chuan-Jin

S'poreans must form backbone of...

SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin says Singapore must continue to attract foreign companies and skilled workers.

Mr Tan also stressed that Singaporeans must form the backbone of the country's workforce.

The acting minister was speaking at the Ministry of Manpower's National Day observance ceremony on Wednesday. 

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Singapore's economy grew 1.7% in first half of this year

SINGAPORE: Singapore's economy grew 1.7% in the first half of this year and is on track for 1.5% to 2.5% growth for 2012, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Message.

Prime Minister Lee said the country is doing well against the backdrop of an unsettled world.

But, while the country is a success story today, Mr Lee said the next 20 years will be very different. 

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Singapore debates Olympic medal

In his national day speech, Lee Hsien Loong, prime minister, said a feeling of belonging and identity for Singaporeans had become “harder to nurture when we have new immigrants and foreign workers”.

With Singapore’s relatively open economy unlikely to escape the current global slowdown, the ruling party knows the stakes are high. Mr Lee has warned that while per capita GDP is impressive – well above Britain, for example, at $50,000 – Singapore is “beyond the phase of effortless [economic] growth”.

“Today Singapore is a success story, but the world is not standing still,” said Mr Lee. “The next two decades will be very different.”

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Mr Lee, how to cope if you continue to flood SG with FTs? 

PM Lee Hsien Loong, (Responding to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Message 2012 …)

How to clear HDB backlog when the influx of new immigrants are continuing to flood SG?

How to stop HDB price from escalating when PRs are continuing to flood SG?

How to have higher frequency of MRT trips when the system is already operating near breakdown point, yet foreigner labours continue to flood SG? 

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'We, the citizens of Singapore …'

Over the past year, we have engaged Singaporeans in intensive discussions on various policies.

Domestically, our country is at a more mature stage of development. Externally, many new developments will affect us in profound ways. By thinking ahead and acting together, we can create a better future for ourselves, our children and our communities

We need to rethink our approaches to many issues, examine what remains relevant and change what needs to be changed. 

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The Meaning of Our Pledge

All adult Singapore citizens have learned to say the Pledge. However, a lot still cannot recite it with complete accuracy. Quite a good number do not really know what it means.

When asked what the Pledge means to us as citizens on this National Day, some say it means “one united people” or some variation of this, and others say “it’s about multi-racialism” or something about religious tolerance. So far, I have yet to hear someone saying that the Pledge is a solemn vow by the person reciting it to build a democratic society based on justice and equality.

To most people, the National Pledge seems to read something like this: “We, the citizens of Singapore pledge to be one united people, and live harmoniously with people of different races and religions, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.” This is vocabulary that has been ingrained in their minds in spite of having recited it for the 12 years when they were in school. No one remembers the vow to build a democratic society based on justice and equality. 

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Where do we go from here?

Life gets more complicated as we grow up. So do nations.

People we once looked up to, like teachers and parents, seem less perfect. The answers to issues less clear-cut.

Time changes us, but the times also change the world around us. Suddenly, we find ourselves playing in a bigger league where it seems to take more out of us just to keep up. We slog our way to the top of the class, or a five-figure salary, only to ask: Is this what we really want? Is that all there is to life? 

Distinctly Singaporean, first

In 20 years' time, I see a country that has developed a strong identity.

The Singaporean identity since independence has been a largely hyphenated one: One is inherently Singaporean-something. Racial policy, defined by the CMIO (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Others) framework has created a society that is essentially Singaporean, yet layered, and hence subdivided along racial lines.

The CMIO may have been necessary in catering to a new nation of culturally diverse people - but a mature nation of culturally aware Singaporeans will no longer need a hyphenated identity. 

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Big miracles, from a little red dot

The year is 2032. This is life in the Singapore I hope to see.

An elderly man wakes up and reaches for his tablet computer to review his daily medical diagnostics. Throughout the night, optical and air molecular sensors near his bed have been monitoring his breathing.

Bio-sensors in his toilet check on his urine and stool. He looks for 30 seconds into an eye piece which analyses the blood vessels in his eye, picking up data on his blood pressure and diabetic signals. 

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NDP and what it means for this Singaporean

My parents will be going for an overseas trip over the National Day long weekend. My dad, an avid follower of the National Day Parade (NDP) on TV, asked if I could help him record the event while they were away.

I politely replied that I would probably be out the whole day with my baby daughter on National Day.

My dad then conjured up the idea of my watching the Parade at home with my daughter so that I could tape the procession for him. 

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My home, My nationality

My maternal grandfather, whom I never knew, was a first generation Malaysian. He fathered 13 children in Penang. He also ran a successful business and made good there. This was on top of being a top-notch craftsman. Many carvings that you see in Hai Kee Peranakan mansion, the setting of TV8 production “The Little Nonya” were his artwork.

As a typical Chinese businessman, he invested in property. According to my mother, all the girls received education, mostly in Chinese schools. Grandfather had bought them properties and the intention was to let them return to China eventually. The boys were sent to English schools. Grandpa had the foresight to understand the importance of being educated in English. 

 Happy 47th Independence Day, Happy 193rd Birthday, Singapore

We are all born helpless and dependent on our parents to feed us and to take care of us.

We go through a long period of growth, learning and development to become independent. For some independence means the day we complete our schooling and start earning our own living and not depend on our parents for pocket money.

For others, independence means the setting up of our own families. Whatever the case may be, we count our age from the day we are born, not the day we became independent.

The good life shifting further away 

The latest COE bidding for small cars and big cars were $73.5k and $94.5k. In the mid 90s the number hit $100k but was no sweat as many could afford them. There was a super bull run and money was everywhere. Everyone was making a killing in the stock market and everyone was spending. No one was complaining that COE prices were too high. And they said, it is not how much but whether the buyers could afford it. It was like the Fed pumping money to encourage spending.

The price of COEs today is going to be very painful for those who want to own a car or who need to own a car. There is no bull market to make easy money. Someone has intentionally killed the market. The market is as good as dead, like Bidadari or  Bukit Brown. And some jokers were crowing how clever they were to bring down the cost of trading equities.

Bloody fools. The few dollars of commission were the least of concerns to the retail traders when they were making handsome profits. It is when there are losing their pants that a few dollars became an issue. The cutting down of trading cost only benefited the big funds and their high speed computer trading when they muscle in to kill the small traders. They need the little advantage to generate huge volumes to disadvantage the small traders. 

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National Day 2012 - Thoughts Of A Singaporean

Rumours abound about Lee Kuan Yew being dead. I don't give a damn if he's dead or alive. Hey, we may just die before he does. We live we die. Just so we do not need our child to defend our frugality [Joke Link1] and [Joke Link2], we are doing great!

Live, die, who cares? I'm just perturbed by the fact that he's getting "gaji buta" ("blind salary"  in Malay). Getting paid for not doing his job as a MP  like doing "Meet The People Sessions" in Tanjong Pagar constituency.

On this National Day, I wish to note:

National Day Celebration: What is True Patriotism?

I was asked several times by friends back home whether I will spend National Day in Singapore  and felt slightly guilty that I am still away in Sydney during this period.

Yet the question to ask is can the 190,000-strong Singaporeans living overseas now  be counted as patriotic if they celebrated national day abroad?

Is it fair to label them as quitters if they are forced to search for greener pastures abroad as a result of  the recent influx of foreign talents on our shore and  in direct competition with us for jobs? 

Reflections on Singapore’s National Day and Nurses’ Day : Strength in diversity

 It is timely and poignant to reflect about National Day (9th Aug)  and Nurses’ Day (1st Aug) together as these are, to me, inextricably inter-twined.

 I sense disparate forces and interests threatening to tear the Singapore fabric apart at the seams even as we debate immigration policies and it may be useful to look at the nurses in our hospitals for an analogy. 

National Day and the dilution of our collective story

I could count no more than 20 flags displayed outside their flats in the block opposite mine. This and the recent debate that has risen from Feng Tianwei winning the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, made me think what it means to be a Singaporean.

Why has it been difficult for some Singaporeans to accept Singapore Table Tennis Association's women team's victories as Singapore's? Could it be because 10 of 23 athletes (including Feng Tianwei) competing in nine sports at the London Olympics were part of the Foreign Sports Talent (FST) scheme, and so reflect the present Singapore society, where 4 in 10 are foreigners?

I lived as a stranger in a foreign land for some years, and so know first-hand how that feels. Where there were very little Asians (much less Singaporeans), my family and I had no choice but to try and assimilate as fast as we could, and eventually, we became good friends (like family almost) with some in the community. 

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A nation looking for itself

By Andrew Loh

It’s National Day today. It’s been 47 years since we exited from the Federation. Singapore, after all these years, is still trying to know itself, trying to have its own identity. There have been several efforts – mostly government-led – to foster such an identity. Have they been successful? To some degree, yes. But mostly, no.

There are views that Singapore today is more divided than it ever was. I am not sure if this is true. Perhaps such views have come about because we are able to express ourselves, and hear or read our friends express the same sentiments, more clearly now, through the Internet, via social media especially. 

What Singaporeans really want for their future

In an ideal world, Singaporeans would love to live on an island that has acres of personal space for recreation which will provide a less stressful lifestyle. After a long week at work, this ideal world provides an environment for Singaporeans to unwind and relax. This provision of recreational lifestyle coupled with affordability will eventually lead to pro-creation.

In addition, Singaporeans would also like to enjoy job security; where they are guranteed a decent paying job as long they continue to do their best at work. Having said this, this will go a long way in reducing the unseen stresses faced by many adults today.

However, we do not live in an ideal world. Much less; we live in a very imperfect world. So the question is how do we mitigate the various factors to ensure that everyone is happy?

Happy Birthday, Our Glorious Nation

Tomorrow is our National Day.

The 47th National Day of our glorious nation.

However it is not necessarily glorious for every Singaporean.

BBC says that in Singapore there is no national poverty line.

That may be so, but I know for a fact that there are many families trying to make ends meet – the have-nots. 

Let’s celebrate the coming of age of Singapore together

National Day is here. And we are 47 years old!

What does it mean to us- Singaporeans and Singapore?

From a country’s perspective, 47 is “young”. Many great nations did not achieve stability or even a sense of self identity till much later. Countries that we compare ourselves with have had many years if not centuries of learning and growing. Australia as a nation became a federation in 1901. Finland is 90 years old this year. 

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The 4 Nationhoods of Singapore 

In the case of Singapore, as their ‘national day’ approaches, some are readying themselves to celebrate 47 years of nationhood.  Logically, in the light of the perspective discussed briefly above, it isn’t.  You could say that its been x number of years since the British left, or x number of years since the end of the union between Malaya and Singapore.  But you cannot say that it has 47 or whatever years of ‘nationhood’.  When you talk about ‘nationhood’, you are talking not only about a political union, but a cultural one as well.

Can one say that Tibet can celebrate thousands of years of nationhood as the Chinese ethnically cleanse it off its Tibetan majority?  No.  The age of the Tibetan nation would began anew with the ‘renewal’ of their ethnic history with the aid of the helpful Chinese.

Same logic applies in the case of Singapore.  Singapore, since the most unfortunate departure of the British, had 4 ‘nationhoods’, or ages, that had significantly different cultural trajectories. 

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