My fellow Singaporeans,
1. On the 9th of August every year, we come together to celebrate our progress as a nation, and to renew our pledge to be one united people. Singapore has come a long way in just 53 years. Today, we are a vibrant and flourishing city-state. Our economy continues to grow steadily – around 3 to 3.5% in recent years. Productivity is improving, and incomes are rising. Singaporeans enjoy a good quality of life, better than many others in the world.
2. But there are some clouds on the horizon. Over the past year, trade tensions between the major economies have seriously worsened. This is affecting international trade, investments, and business confidence. Singapore’s own growth and prosperity will be affected too. Trade conflicts will also erode trust between the major powers, and hinder their cooperation on other important issues. And hence, regional and international security are at risk.
3. One international security issue is the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Two months ago, we successfully hosted the Summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un. The Summit has eased Korean tensions, but there are many challenges still to be overcome before denuclearisation and peace are achieved on the Korean Peninsula.
4. Nearer home, ASEAN is a life raft in an uncertain world. As ASEAN Chair this year, we aim to further cooperation with our ASEAN partners, and in particular with our two closest neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia. Malaysia has a new government following its General Election in May. We will strive for good relations with Malaysia, based on mutual benefit and respect. Indonesia will hold Presidential elections next year. We will continue to work with Indonesia to further our wide-ranging cooperation with them.
5. The Government is watching these external developments closely. In the meantime, we are strengthening Singapore’s resilience and creating new
opportunities. In the last few years, the Government has been reviewing major education, healthcare and housing policies. We are making changes to improve the lives of Singaporeans, strengthen social safety nets, and build a more cohesive nation. We want Singapore to do the best we can, whatever the external circumstances.
6. Today, I am speaking to you from Kampung Admiralty. Kampung Admiralty is a public housing innovation: an integrated housing estate designed for senior citizens. The flats here have inbuilt features like grab bars and non-slip tiles, so that senior citizens can live in them comfortably and safely. There are also many amenities co-located here: a supermarket, a medical centre, a community garden, a childcare centre, and a hawker centre.
7. What does a day in Kampung Admiralty look like? Many residents are grandparents, with their adult children living nearby. Every morning, the young parents drop off their kids at the childcare centre here, to be picked up by the grandparents later in the day. The old folks meet their friends for taiji or gardening at the community garden, or go for their regular check-ups at the medical centre. After school, the grandparents bring the kids to the hawker centre for some food, or to the playground to run around. If it is raining, the children can play in the sheltered community plaza, or take a nap upstairs in their grandparents’ homes. In the evenings after work, the young parents can pick up fresh groceries from the FairPrice supermarket here to prepare dinner for the whole family. Kampung Admiralty is a high-rise kampung where residents are out and about, socialising with family, friends, and neighbours, and yet never too far from home.
8. Here, our education, healthcare, and housing policies come together for the residents in a tangible and holistic way. The childcare centre at Kampung Admiralty is one of many new centres we have opened all over Singapore, to increase the number of preschool places, so that all children can have a strong start in life, and benefit from dedicated teachers, good facilities, and quality play time.
9. The medical centre here is one of many new upcoming community healthcare facilities across the island, which will bring quality healthcare closer to residents. These services will always be affordable. We have MediShield Life, which protects all Singaporeans from major and unexpected hospital expenses. We have CHAS, the Community Health Assist Scheme, which provides generous subsidies for outpatient treatment, especially for chronic illnesses like high blood pressure or diabetes. We will soon have CareShield Life, which will protect younger Singaporeans as they age and one day need long term care. Older ones can sign on to CareShield Life too, and they will get subsidies if they do so.
10. Kampung Admiralty is also a model for future public housing. It meets a need as our society ages, encouraging the residents and their families to come together to build a community. HDB will continue to develop other innovative housing concepts, for the young as well as the old, so that future generations can also own their homes and live comfortably and happily in their neighbourhoods.
11. What about existing housing estates? They will be maintained and upgraded as the years pass. Though the leases still have many years to run, we should think ahead about how we can keep older estates in good living condition, and also start to redevelop them, in order to build new homes and towns for future generations.
12. Kampung Admiralty is an example of what the Government is doing to transform education, healthcare and housing to improve the lives of Singaporeans. When people express concern over the cost of living, these are three significant items they worry about. In Singapore, we ensure that these key public services are both of high quality and affordable for all Singaporeans, rich or poor. This is how we’ve helped families to manage their cost of living, and given an extra hand to those who need it. For more than five decades, this approach has worked well.
13. We are not done building Singapore yet. By planning boldly and creatively, we can reimagine Singapore, remake our heartlands and rejuvenate our communities. The work of building Singapore for the next 50 years will be a massive, long-term undertaking, lasting more than a generation. To sustain this project, we will need a strong economy and sound government finances. Most importantly, we need social cohesion, political stability, and good government for many years to come, in order to carry out and realise our vision.
14. Singapore today is a nation of opportunities because each generation has built a better home on the foundations laid by those who came before them. And this is why today every one of us can pursue our passions, excel in different fields of endeavour, and strive to create a better tomorrow. Now, it’s our generation’s turn to build on what we have inherited, and make our own contribution to the nation.
15. As a National Day song puts it,
“There’s a jewel on the ocean, a gem upon the sea
Where the future is an open book
A land of destiny.”
16. My fellow citizens, Singapore’s best days are yet to come. Happy National Day!