National Day Rally Speech 2006
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG’S NATIONAL DAY RALLY SPEECH 2006: THE BLOGOSPHERE REPLIES
1. Pre Speech Commentary
2. Post Speech Commentary
- A. The Economy
- B. The Region
- C. Our Population
- D. The Digital Age
- E. Singapore Heartware
1. Pre Speech Commentary:
– “Setting the Stage: PM’s Rally Speech 2006” by BL and HuiChieh @ Singapore Angle, “This year, the National Day Message can be broken down into four distinctive components: (i) global outlook and risks, (ii) adapting to change, (iii) a more open and diverse society and (iv) strengthening our core. … For the coming Rally Speech, our guess is that we will see an after-sales pitch, i.e. the PAP government has been re-elected and the broad policy specifics geared towards achieving that vision implemented.” (18 Aug, 2006)
– “Dispensing Optimism” by Ms Molly Meek, “Ah, of course, I can’t possibly bluff a few million people by telling them how I have delivered my promises. But people have learned to take delight in deferred pleasures. A sentence like “We will continue to [insert a promise, e.g. open up]” sends a mesmerized audience to heights of ecstasy. Words like “continue to” would also give the impression that the promises have started to be fulfilled.” (19 Aug, 2006)
– “Retreat from Power: Who will lead us?” by Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan, “I do concede that if anyone can bring about long-term change (even via politics of retreat ), it would be our present PM. He has genuine support from a sizeable majority.
PM Lee’s ability to implement change is never in doubt, only his willingness to take a calculated risk by embarking on a different path is. … Our children’s generation may not be as trusting as our fathers’. … I await his National Day Rally speech with bated breath.” (20 Aug, 2006)
– “Extreme Solutions for Singapore’s Problems,” by Whispers from the Heart, “I don’t think I need to know what PM would be preaching at the National Day Rally tonight. The yada yada will revolve around how we should stay united and steadfast in accepting anything that is better than zero.” (20 Aug, 2006)
– “Miscellaneous Thoughts,” by Gayle Goh, “Off the top of my head, here are some predictions: overseas Singaporeans, foreign talent, oil prices affecting all of us and hence the need to accept rising costs of living, the realization that the need to stay competitive will affect people from the lower income groups more, but that opportunities will be given, re-training, maybe a welfare scheme or two, same goes for older workers who find that their CPF is not enough, or those who struggle with healthcare costs. … the need to balance that with liberal and progressive thinking, people who know their minds and speak it, yet being mindful of their responsibilities (maybe blogs and journalists will get some sort of mention at this point).” (20 Aug, 2006)
2. Post Speech Commentary:
– “National Day Rally Speech,” Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma, “Well, well. Nigeria must also be one of the best places for high-quality investments, because Shell has had PLENTY of investments there for decades (and still does). Yet Nigeria is a hotspot for guerilla activity, civil war and political upheaval. Maybe Shell’s choice of investment location doesn’t have that much to do with the strength or quality of political leadership in the country? In the Singapore context, educate yourself. Go on, click here.” (21 Aug 2006)
– “Resurgence of Singapore Inc.” BL @ SG Entrepreneurs, “Personally I feel that it is not a bad thing to not mention entrepreneurship in the rally speech. After all, entrepreneurs want to shake off less government intervention as much as they can. With this new-found freedom due to the resurgence of the Singapore Inc, it is perhaps time for the entrepreneurs and facilitators of entrepreneurs to work out their roadmap and be ready for the next down cycle of the economy.” (23 Aug, 2006)
– “Pulling a Fast One,” Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma, “I see his attempt to tie the lack of babies to the immediate need for foreigners as just another sales strategy to convince the Singaporean public about his foreign talent schemes. Furthermore he gets to shift the blame (“See? YOU Singaporeans are not producing enough babies, so I, the Prime Minister need to import foreign talent”).
The truth is – babies are not adults. Adults are not babies. PM Lee is surely smart enough to see that. I think that he thinks you’re not. …
Meanwhile, Singaporeans are getting fooled. Look at poor Ms Lee Pai Ping” (25 Aug, 2006)
B. The Region
– “My differences with Dr Mahathir will not affect Asean,” PM Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi @ The Star, “the political differences between [me] and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will not affect Asean.” DPM Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, “[I do] not think that “deep political differences” in Malaysia [will] affect the “climate of Asean” as mentioned by Lee.” (22 Aug, 2006)
C. Our Population
– “On Immigrants, Emigrants and Dual Citizenship,” by Samaryn @ a gecko’s tale, “I am for the idea of immigration into our country – as long as opportunities for native-born Singaporeans match the opportunities available to immigrants. … By highlighting Mustaq Ahmad and David Gan as examples, the establishment is not bemoaning the absence of such qualities in Singaporeans but rather trying to encourage Singaporeans to rediscover what their parents and grandparents possessed. But it is not entirely their fault, isn’t it? Afterall… What made Singaporeans, Singaporeans? … I expect that Lee Hsien Loong will touch on the issue of dual citizenship in due time. I believe that our existing policy of prohibiting dual citizenship may have to change if the government is seriously intent on winning back our
quitters overseas Singaporeans.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Trees, Robots & Babies,” Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma, “One problem with PM Lee’s baby-making incentives is that they focus on the time of the child’s birth (maternity leave; paternity leave; cash gift; tax rebates the following year) or at the most, the first few years (Edusave scheme). But raising a child is a much longer-term commitment, and Singaporeans know this. … Parenting is a very time-consuming activity if you want to do it properly – and it is a very important responsibility that cannot be lightly undertaken – that could be why many Singaporeans choose not to undertake it at all.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Rally or Offensive?” Ms Molly Meek, “Yes, of course, of course. Immigrants are not the threat. The threat lies in the people who discriminate against locals in favor of foreign talents. The people, for instance, who have a misguided belief that native speakers make better English teachers. And foreign talents, I dare say, are not immigrants. True immigrants are local citizens and won’t be considered as “foreign talent” anymore. Unless perhaps they happen to be, er, native speakers??” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Food for Thought,” Angeline @ My Little Shrine, “One way to encourage young adults to venture is to encourage companies esp local companies to provide opportunities for such individuals to take a sabbatical (of cos provided they have been with the company for a few years) with the full confidence that their job will still be there if they return in 6 months or for MNCs to encourage employees to take a role overseas w/o penalising them. When I was in London, taking such sabbatical is very common. The position is simply filled by a contractor for that 3 – 6 months. Singaporeans are not risk takers.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Parts of NDR 2006,” by takcheck, “I am glad they have acknowledged that the days of monopoly of ‘talent’ by the govt. agencies are long over. And there is no denying that there are a great many more opportunities outside of the little red dot. To consign yourself to a single company/organisation which you know nothing much about for six years immediately after graduation will be a recipe for disaster and disaffection.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “National Day Rally 2006,” KK’s Thoughts, “The path which David Gan took was as risky one. (just like the illegal chinese immigrant case) There was some earlier years where when authorities come, David have to hide away from the saloon he was working in at Tiong Bahru long time ago back then, else he would be caught! for flouting the law… So now even if the evidence prevails now, he is forgiven now he got his citizenship! … The morale of the story is:- Be Bad! Go Against the Govenrment! But don’t get caught! Then turned Good at the End! and you shall be rewarded!” (21 Aug, 2006)
D. The Digital Age
– “Seow Leow! TalkingCock Suffers Shrinkage, Street Cred Loss, After Rally Mention,” TalkingCock.com, “TalkingCock underwent massive shrinkage after suffering a severe loss of street cred following PM Lee’s mention of it during his National Day Rally speech. “Nothing is worse than being seen to provide ‘officially-approved humour’. This has cost us a lot of credibility with our core audience of buay song Singaporeans,” said editor in chief Supreme Cock, “But we’re working hard to get our Cock back up again.” “(21 Aug, 2006)
– “Rally or Offensive?” Ms Molly Meek, “Beware of the Internet, beware of the Internet, beware of the f*****g Internet. The Internet erodes your morality!
Come on, the Internet has been here for more than a freaking decade and you are talking about how the Internet could erode morality at this time as if it’s something really new. Well, yes, the use of the widespread Internet to criticize you is relatively new. Bah.” (Aug 21, 2006)
– “Regarding PM’s National Day Rally Speech,” Mr Brown, “2. I believe the Government has every right to respond to my Humour column. I may disagree with what they say but it is their right to respond.
3. I also believe in responding in turn to what the Government said in their letter, but my Humour column was suspended immediately after their letter was printed. Perhaps Mediacorp/TODAY did not stand by what they published? …
5. I understand that many people did respond on the matter by writing in to the mainstream press, but none of their letters were published by mainstream media. Not a single one. Some people who wrote to TODAY about the column’s suspension received a templated response to write to MICA instead, even though TODAY were the ones who suspended the column. Strange.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Flogging a Dead Brown Horse,” Kway Teow Man, “But I digress, that’s not the *REAL* problem. The real problem is that the perception that there was no right of hearing.
Perhaps the Garmen is completely right — but we never got to hear Mr Brown’s response to the Garmen’s robust reply and his column got suspended quite unceremoniously. This is a problem in the PROCESS, rather than the substance of the debate. Of course, it also didn’t help that the MICA response was poorly crafted. The KTM speculates that much of the public outcry and flak could have been avoided if the process had been managed well, i.e. if Mr Brown didn’t get suspended and had the opportunity to publish his response to the MICA in his column.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Of Prime Ministers & Non-Sequiturs,” Zynfandel @ in vino alcohol, “I’d like to know (not seriously, of course) – how does an immediate clampdown on columnists translate into open discussion? And how exactly does the government expect to conduct “open discussions” with Singaporeans anyway? Surely they cannot honestly believe that government-regulated “forum sessions” with the public – apparently the only sanctioned (and carefully-controlled) means of such interaction – constitute adequate engagement with the people?” (20 Aug, 2006)
– “Mr Wang is Right,” by Xenoboy, “When PM Lee in his Rally Speech delivers the ultimate punchline to lay the bak chor mee to rest, to signal Government’s engagement with the Digital Age Singaporean, those dreaming of somewhere else, he utters the phrase “Mee Siam Mai Hum”.
This becomes an instant classic of dis-connect. …
… in this case, Mee Siam has never had cockles as an ingredient. Two other distinctly Singapore dishes use cockles. Laksa and Fried Kway Teow Noodles. Most Singaporeans know this. Its a fact of life.”
– “National Day Rally,” Scientist Wannabe, “Yet there were some elements of PM’s speech that left me a little worried. Let me just briefly state one. It has been widely publicised that Mr Brown has crossed the boundaries. He’s tested the limits of political and journalistic freedom in Singapore. PM again emphasised that he has not stated some things factually. But I say we should let bygones be bygones. This has been well documented and we should move on. I say we should give this talented guy a chance. Admittedly, he has done something wrong but haven’t we? While we’re talking about creating an inclusive society for all strata of society, shouldn’t we, at the same time, foster an environment that is forgiving and accepting of some of the faults and failures of fellow Singaporeans. And furthermore, this guy has the gift of entertaining people. We should, at some point, lighten up and poke fun at ourselves. Even PM admitted that.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “PM Lee is Cool,” Rambo Tan, “We pay our government big bucks to be right, not to be wrong. If they say stop joking, and we still joke, then who will respect them? They are completely in their rights to send their secret police and shoot us all, but lucky they only fire us from our jobs and occasionally sue us. This is very nice already, you know. PM Lee is so cool that he even showed the Talking Cock website in his speech! You cannot fight PM Lee, he is too cool. And also he can sue you. Which I guess makes him more cool.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “National Day Rally 2006,” A Heart Called Desire, “To what extent can the government disagree? Actually, I’m pretty sure that governments in almost all countries will be unhappy if criticised (I mean, they’re human too, just like us)… but some choose to chop off heads, others throw into prison, yet others simply issue a statement or just ignore. Or they listen and act upon it.
But does the Singapore Constitution specify limits for government disagreement? That means, what resources are available to the government if it wishes to rebut and defend itself? I support the government’s decision to defend itself, but I feel that it’s got to be a fair debate.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “National Day Rally Speech”, Gayle Goh, “PM Lee stated that the government would have to adapt to the Digital Age. This segment of the speech naturally held the most interest for me. He said: “PAP should be in MySpace” (I want to see that happen, I tell you). He also mentioned that the ministries are considering new media like podcasts and vodcasts, and “will experiment”. Crucially, he said that the Political Films Act and the law banning podcasting during election time, under the Parliamentary Elections Act, will be updated (finally).
This may mark an important milestone in the approach the PAP takes to new media. It appears that they are going to take to the Internet and appropriate it as a useful tool. Good! PAP podcasts and Workers’ Party podcasts ‘facing off’ on the Internet is infinitely more constructive to a democratic environment than no podcasts from anyone.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Feedback to Rally,” Ms Molly Meek, “Molly thinks the most important issue our dear PM highlighted is the question of how to get Singaporeans to feel that Singapore belongs to them.
Of course, the fact that he highlighted the issue doesn’t mean that he really addressed the issue.
This is important because Molly is reminded once again that it’s all a matter of feeling. Singapore doesn’t have to belong to the peasantry of Singapore, but the point is to really get them to feel that Singapore belongs to them. This is probably why nothing is being said about the right for Singaporeans to express themselves regarding national issues ranging from the death penalty to the use of defamation suits against opposition politicians to the sort of press that any country–first world or not–needs. And perhaps the need to know how Mr. Devan Nair really got himself into trouble. And perhaps a particular politician’s failed attempt to sue him for defamation in Canada.” (21 Aug, 2006)
– “Call Connect to Singapore,” by Xenoboy, “If we could subsist on words, we should have a Rally Speech every week. Suddenly, the chilling effect is suspended as jokes spill through, warmth is generated, elderly anecdotes which tug the heart-strings, seemingly genuine laughter, wearing down the hard-wired fear, coaxing heartware out of Singaporeans. Humour is fine. Innovative and hip/happenin ways to bring the powerful to you. To message to you. To massage a connection. Join up the dots and make a big heart in Singapore Central, for Singapore central.
Subductive. To subdue seductively.” (22 Aug, 2006)
Thanks to PM Lee for his speech. You can find a transcript of the entire speech here. Special thanks to BL and HC of SGE and SA for helping this effort. All images courtesy of Sei-ji Rakugaki @ My Sketchbook, reproduced here with permission. And of course, thanks to all the bloggers in cyberspace.