Tag Archive | National Day Rally

PM Lee plays real cool hand for ND Rally

The National Day Rally this year will break away from the one-man, very long speech that characterised the format which Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, introduced and which was continued by his two successors: Mr Goh Chok and Mr Lee Hsien Loong.
In the new arrangement, Mr Lee Jr  will today have three ministers speak before he makes his annual address at 8pm.
The three ministers are Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Senior Minister of State (MOS) (Education and Information, Communications and the Arts) Lawrence Wong and MOS (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Halimah Yacob. They will join PM Lee in spelling out challenges facing Singapore and how to address them.
They will also speak on topics of interest to them. For instance, Mr Wong will air his aspirations for Singapore and thoughts about building a stronger community and nation while Mdm Halimah said her focus “is likely to be on the importance of keeping hope alive and providing opportunities for all Singaporeans, regardless of their background, so that we can achieve our vision of a fair and just society”.
The three ministers will speak between 6:45pm and 7:30pm. Mr Wong and Mr Heng will speak in English with some Mandarin, and Mdm Halimah in English and Malay. PM Lee will speak from 8pm in Malay, Mandarin and English.
I’m delighted that Mr Lee has made this change; because unlike the era when Singaporeans were mesmerised by every word that the elder Mr Lee uttered at the rally, today’s folks have too many distractions. Shorter, sharper and smarter content and delivery are likely to hold attention better, especially when there is also variety in the orators, not a monologueby a soloist.
As for the choice of ministers to help warm up Singaporeans before the main actor takes centre stage, I think the selection is spot on to be a crowd pleaser.
First, crowd pleaser must be Mr Lawrence Wong, whom IMHO is the most likely to become the next Prime Minister, even though people in the know have said repeatedly that Messrs Tan Chuan Jin and Chan Chun Sing are also hot contenders.
Mr Wong’s outing at this year’s ND rally could be viewed as a kind of dress rehearsal for the real thing, somewhere down the road.
Second, the choice of Mdm Halimah Yacob is a 3-prong crowd pleaser, even though she will never become Prime Minister, at least not within the current political framework.
The first prong is that the tudung wearing Cik Halimah would appeal to the conservative Malay Muslims in her community, especially those who aspire to rise in the world in the Singapore context. She shows that being a Malay Muslim woman proud of her roots is no hindrance to making it in a Chinese-dominated and somewhat loudly Westernised Singapore society.
Her second prong is her appeal to the conservative feminist of all races who wants to be married, have children and have a career with maximum state support: Cik Halimah is both champion and role model.
Her third prong is for the PAP to show its rank and file that yes, you can be woman, Malay Muslim, conservative and not so glamourous as Ms Josephine Teo or Ms Grace Fu but you can still make it big in the party and government. After all, it’s Cik Halimah who is going to be the first woman from the PAP to address the ND Rally, not the other two ladies, OK!
As for the choice of Mr Heng, the ex-central banking chief and the current Minister for Education, his inclusion suggests (to me at least) as a nod to the upper middle-class Singaporeans who have made it but don’t belong to the coterie of successful citizens who blame the PAP for everything that displeases them in life! It helps too that he is the Min for Ed which widens his appeal to all those with kids and grand kids or simply hoping for them. This large wedge of Sgreans, falling TFR not withstanding, want to know what’s in the ever morphing, ever dynamic education landscape for the young!
So after the appetisers, what main course would PM Lee deliver?
He could be the magician who draws the threads of wisdom spun first by the “chorus” of three and turn them into a blanket of many colors for SGreans to picnic upon? Then he could unpack the picnic basket of goodies to tide us over the 12 months until the next National Day Rally?
Whatever Mr Lee does, today’s rally will go down in SG history for breaking with tradition. Or should i say “Tradition Made Better” in the tagline that once belonged to Fraser & Neave? 😀

What makes me really angry!

Nope, not about MP Penny Low caught by TV cameras looking at her mobile phone while singing Majulah Singapura at the National Day Parade! Instead, I feel sorry for her for the way ubiquitous cameras keep invading her private space, even if she’s an MP — or especially if she is an MP and condemned to be on best behaviour, 24/7!

Nope, I don’t begrudge our government ministers their pay, whether it’s $1 million or $10 million. And definitely not our President his $4 million annual salary, because among his many onerous duties is one that I regard as necessary but oh so painful on the mind and spirit that no amount of moolah can compensate for: signing the execution orders for those felons sentenced to death.

What gets me angry is when I hear about town councils promoting recycling habits among their residents and mindlessly destroying the very eco-system that supports the dirt poor among us: the waste paper, cartons, and other bric-a-brac give the few $ which they depend on to survive a little better beyond public assistance and/or ad hoc charity!

What gets me really angry is when I hear (on 93.8FM some time ago) and read about attempts today to raise multi-million $ to buy dinosaur fossils (see article reproduced below), no matter how rare and in what good condition they may be, for our museums.

Let those who want such “trophies” to be in our museums pay for it out of their own pockets, not tap those with the money but which could be put to better use helping the living right in Singapore.

I’ve in mind this prime example of poverty and deprivation about which I’ve posted for almost a year, here, here, here and here.

I’ve a plea for Tony Tan, Tan Jee Say, Tan Cheng Bock and Tan Kin Lian, our four presidential hopefuls: whichever of you wins the race, please stop championing all the brand name charities! Concentrate instead on those — like the old tramp — without the voice or the patron to bring their needs to the public eye. Your nod in their direction will  ensure that this marginalised sliver among Singaporeans will eat better and live better for the next six years!


Purchase of 3 dinosaurs at risk as donations fall short of target

Less than $2m of immediate $8m needed raised as new deadline looms

By Tan Dawn Wei, News Editor

The deadline set by its sellers has come and gone, but the money to buy three dinosaurs for Singapore’s upcoming natural history museum is still not in the bag.

Since it embarked on an intense race to raise $12 million for the fossils from Wyoming in the United States a month ago, the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research has managed to collect only $1.89 million through several donors and public donations through its online portal.

It has since negotiated an extension of the deadline – originally July 31 – with its American sellers and now has one to two months to raise the rest of the money.

The immediate task is to collect $8 million first to secure the three dinosaurs. The remaining $4 million, to be used for transport and to mount the exhibits, can be raised later.

Include NS men who died in service for new award?

Naturally and understandably NS men who had already completed their training cycle would be disappointed that they won’t be eligible for the National Service Recognition Award (NSRA) announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally.

The NSRA is a monetary award of between $9,000 and $10,500 for each Singaporean NSman, with commanders getting more. And it’s only for full time and operationally-ready NSmen in service from August 29, the day it was announced by Prime Minister Lee. It won’t be retroactive.

“We are also part of the Singaporean nation… We must be treated equally. We have contributed in the past,” said one Singaporean, according to a clip I saw on Channel News Asia last night.

And naturally and understandably too,  the Government would defend its decision not to make the award retroactive.

Prohibitive costs apart (imagine how many $9,000 would have to be given out to all the cohorts that have completed their obligations since 1965!), Minister of State for Defence, Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee, pointed out:

“Government policy has never been retroactive… many generations who have served NS, like many of us… recognise that we have already benefited from previous policies and this policy is for NSmen going forward.”


Yet I wonder why the recognition can’t be extended to those NS men who died while in training or on peace keeping missions? There can’t have been too many in number?

Sure, for each death, the NS deceased would have enjoyed a funeral with full military honours.

But how nice for their still grieving parents or other immediate family members, if after all these years, the Government should give them a little something more than symbolic to help ease their permanent loss and pain!