In his recent National Day Rally speech on 19 August, PM Lee Hsien Loong emphasised that aside from maintaining good relations with countries both regionally and internationally, it is just as important for the Singapore spirit and identity to thrive, in the wake of existing global uncertainties and tensions between other nations.
PM Lee highlighted three areas in particular: our role in hosting the Trump/Kim summit, ordinary Singaporeans achieving extraordinary feats, and sharing the Singapore identity with the world through preserving our hawker culture.
Hosting the Trump-Kim summit
“Organising the Summit brought us all together, supporting and cheering one another on. We have every reason to feel proud of ourselves. Well done, Team Singapore.”
Singapore was thrust in the international limelight for our role in the historic Trump-Kim summit in June, which cemented our impression as a “serious and reliable partner”, and a host that provided “Uniquely Singapore touches of warmth and hospitality” to all United States and North Korean delegates and international media.
While ensuring the smooth proceedings of the summit was, in PM Lee’s words, “a big responsibility”, the role that we played in hosting and organising this summit was also a pivotal one. This has helped to secure Singapore’s global position and relevance as a trusted partner with “the infrastructure and capability to provide a safe and secure environment” for future discussions of such scale to be held on neutral ground.
In addition, this was an opportunity for Singaporeans to show the world what our ‘little red dot’ could do, and we certainly rose to the occasion. In the words of a class of Primary 2s from Methodist Girls’ Primary School quoted by PM Lee in his speech, “When Singaporeans work together, we can do great things.”
Showcasing the extraordinary in ordinary Singaporeans
“There are many Singaporeans… flying our flag high. We rejoice in their successes, and they show the world that here in Singapore, passion can indeed be made possible.”
PM Lee shone the spotlight on various Singaporeans who have made their mark both locally, and around the world – those who “[have taken] the path less travelled, excelling in their own fields… following their passions, breaking new ground, doing Singapore proud”.
In particular, he highlighted four overseas Singaporeans: Jakarta-based husband and wife entrepreneurs Darius Cheung, founder of property search platform 99.co, and Roshni Mahtani, founder of Tickled Media, which runs popular parenting portal theAsianparent.com; award-winning photographer Sim Chi Yin, who was commissioned as the Nobel Peace Prize photographer in 2017, and who now lives in Beijing; and Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra chief conductor Wong Kah Chun, who’s been invited to conduct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2019 Lunar New Year concert.
Preserving our hawker culture
“Hawker centres are important not just to keep the cost of living low. They are a cultural institution, a unique part of Singapore’s heritage and identity.”
In PM Lee’s Mandarin rally speech, he pointed out that seven hawker centres have been built over the years, with 13 more in the works, to provide Singaporeans with “affordable food choices” to “keep the cost of living low”. Beyond that, our hawker culture is part of the Singaporean identity, and is an important part of our multicultural heritage that should continue to be preserved for future generations.
To do so, plans are in the works to nominate Singapore’s hawker culture to be on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, to spread this unique Singaporean culture to the world and for it to “stand proudly on the world stage”. You can pledge your support for this cause at bit.ly/OSHawkerSupport .
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“With what we now have, we can achieve so much more together. 100 years from now, Singapore should stand out not just for its modern skyscrapers and world rankings, but for being a nation of boundless opportunities. A society where every skill and talent is recognised, developed and celebrated and where those who have done well contribute back to society, and help others to do better.”
Missed PM Lee’s National Day Rally speech? Here’s a roundup of the initiatives and developments planned out in Singapore for the next few years and beyond: