PM’s National Day Rally Speech – 16 August 2009

The full transcript in this link. Uploaded to my own server as a pdf file –> PM National Day Rally Speech 2009

A few thoughts…

I am very encouraged because with a growing economy, companies are hiring and maybe they have no choice, maybe they are getting the message, but they are hiring more older workers. And if you look at the employment rates, the percentage of older people working, the men, aged 55 and above, say 55 to 64 years old, the group who are most vulnerable and at risk of being retired early, their employment rates have gone up dramatically this year.

Have they considered that the biggest reason is that their children are being retrenched from their jobs and no longer able to support their elderly parents? Have they considered that another reason could be that the cost of living is rising way above their family income that the amount they get is no longer sufficient? Have they considered that they do not have the money from the CPF because they need increasingly more money in their retirement fund?

If you look around us in Asean, while overall things are good, we also see problems which already are in front of us.

The speech talks about almost everyone in Asean, except Burma. Why? Are they doing well? Not at all. Why neglect to mention the hottest country recently? Steering clear of the tricky issue of having to talk about Aung Sang Suu Kyi? Having to talk about our stand with respect to such topics? Haven’t we already made a stand? To laud the Burmese government for being able to wield their power and yet show some graciousness by convicting Aung Sang Suu Kyi, but allow her to be ‘imprisoned’ in her own home instead?

Such an act by a fellow Asean member affects the entire organisation directly, our actions and opinion will directly reflect the entire country’s reputation in the eyes of the entire world. While everyone else is talking about equality, fairness, justice and democracy, we are supporting a military junta. What a joke.

So let’s work together to make it the best meeting they have had and let’s do it, all of us. We said four million smiles, but it’s actually also four million pairs of hands and hard work. It’s not just smiles to welcome guests but it’s also service from the heart. Not just being nice to them but knowing what to do and knowing your job and being able to take care of them and leave them with a clear impression that this is a special place and that what they can do in S’pore, they can’t do in many other places in the world. And if you impress them, if S’poreans impress them, that means the taxi-drivers, the immigration officials, the counter staff, the shop girls, the officials organising the meetings, the liaison officers bringing the people from place to place, getting them to the right place at the right time, you will do a greater favour to S’pore and be more effective than any EDB or Tourism Board advertising campaign, because this will be the real thing and not just a glossy picture.

Do they actually know that all these propaganda-ish talk is making us a laughing stock everywhere in the world? Ever since I started to have friends from all over the world (thanks to internet) I’ve constantly been embarrassed by the fact that we need to be told to smile, be told to be kind, be told to give way to the needy etc.. Sad.

First of all, overseas Singaporeans. We’ve got to keep in touch with our network overseas. We’ve been doing it in various ways, ad hoc. We’ve set up now an Overseas Singaporean Unit, an OSU in PMO. Wong Kan Seng is supervising this. And the ideal of the OSU is to engage Singaporeans overseas, keep them updated, make sure that they know what’s happening in Singapore, keep them part of our global family. And we want to do this not just as the government taking the initiative but also to have the students or the overseas Singaporeans take the initiative, organise and link up with Singapore.

I read this paragraph 3 times, and still unable to understand why we need this.. unit. Why do you need a unit to keep overseas Singaporeans updated about happenings in Singapore? That’s what the internet is for. If it is to organise events and meetings, then why do you need a government unit to do that? This unit (even the choice of word is military) will likely be official endorsing division that essentially does nothing but gives the Official stamp.

Besides the population issue, another thing which is happening to us right now and is going to have a big impact on us is the digital age. The new technologies, the Internet, handphones, PDAs, all kinds of things which beep, which vibrate, which communicate, which connect us to cyberspace, not in heaven but somewhere on earth. It’s a completely different world. We haven’t talked about it but you just think back one generation how things have changed.

Whoever wrote this speech is a moron, or needs a good lesson in humour… This paragraph didn’t make me laugh, it made me sneer and roll my eyes.

But now young people they are making friends on the Internet. They never meet one another, exchange photographs on MySpace. What is MySpace? It’s a place where you paste your photographs and the photographs can make friends with each other. And I’m told some young people even get married on the Internet! I don’t recommend it.

I know this is not supposed to be a joke, but I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at this. It simply shows off the ignorance.

We cannot have a digital divide splitting Singaporeans, those who know and have computers from those who don’t know and don’t have.

But we can have a monetary divide splitting Singaporeans, those who earn peanuts from those who earn the crumbs.

The Government has to adapt to the digital age. First of all, we need to find leaders who are of that age group, and that’s what we have been doing, that’s why in this election we fielded a lot of people who are below 40 years old and we call them the P65 generation.

Did they really consider why it is so hard to find good calibre leaders who wish to serve the country? That’s because they are all disillusioned by everything that the PAP is doing, their actions, their half-truths etc… Good people are not drawn by money or power. The best people have to be found through passion.

In America, I told you about MySpace where you post your pictures. The US Marine Corps have a picture in MySpace. They are making friends, hoping to get recruits. I think the Singapore Armed Forces maybe should also have, Singapore Police Force too in MySpace. Maybe the PAP should be in MySpace because this is one of the mediums you are reaching out to.

FYI Mr Lee, MySpace isn’t popular in Singapore. You missed the Friendster era, you missed the Yahoo Groups era, so you better catch the Facebook era, before you’re left in the dust again.

The rest of the English speech alternates between boring and a joke.. To prevent myself from being bombarded by too much nonsense, I’ll save the Mandarin version to be read tomorrow.

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