PM Lee’s 65-minute Parliament speech in 869 words: Debate on President’s Address
He went from global to regional to local. Saved the best for last.
Full video here:
So, PM Lee kicked things off by explaining President Halimah’s President Address: She had no choice but to read what was written by the ministers, because this is a British parliamentary tradition where the Queen reads the speech written by the elected government of the day.
Anyway, the President’s Address was not even written by PM Lee, but by the 4G leaders who will be the ones taking over Singapore, so he just gave them support and provided his input and they pulled it off and its content is very forward-looking going beyond even PM Lee’s tenure.
And then PM Lee was like: Look, US and China. A lot of tension.
If they have a conflict, like a trade war, Singapore will suffer because she is small, and anything that affects trade, affects Singapore.
And if US and China cut the world up and make other countries take sides, Singapore is also finished because we cannot just take a side.
And then PM Lee quotes his father Lee Kuan Yew, who once said: “When elephants fight, the grass suffers, but when elephants make love, the grass also suffers”.
LOL very funny.
And PM Lee narrowed the scope and was like: Look, Malaysia and Indonesia are having elections. Malaysia’s one is done and we will work with the new coalition government. He knows Najib, Mahathir and Anwar. When Anwar was deputy PM, so was PM Lee deputy PM. Our previous projects are in the pipeline, and they benefit both sides. So, he sounded almost hopeful at this juncture.
And then he also said Indonesia is also having local elections this year and national elections next year. Whoever wins, we will work with them.
Jokowi, great guy.
And then PM Lee looked towards Singapore and was like: Don’t worry Singaporeans, single digit economic growth is between 2 and 4 percent, which is actually good for mature economies. Same as Japan and Korea. Actually, better than Japan.
And then he assured Singaporeans: Singapore will continue to be a place for a better life — if we can seize the opportunities.
Look, Indonesia has become a tech start-up haven with unicorns, such as Go-Jek.
Singapore is planting fintech firms and doing AI stuff. We’re linking up with the rest of the world in this area and our people are doing cutting edge stuff overseas. So, we’re trying, for sure.
And then he reminded Singaporeans they must maintain a society with little hierarchy, unlike in UK or India, where any social markers are clearly visible and audible.
No Singaporean must be in a disadvantageous position because of background, which they obviously cannot have control over.
And then PM Lee got down to speaking to local, regular Singaporeans level: Singaporeans were right to be angry with the High SES and Low SES textbook classification that blew up online recently.
And he then exhorted Singaporeans not to flaunt their wealth. If anyone does, it is probably a loan shark. Ya, PM Lee said that.
The elite group must be porous enough for others without the same backgrounds to gain entry.
So, Singaporean parents shouldn’t worry sending their boys to Raffles Institution. Half of the students there stay in public housing.
And then PM Lee waxed lyrical about how Outward Bound School is special. It is where Singaporean youths from diverse backgrounds get to mingle and solve problems together.
Basically, Singapore is practical. She will try anything that works.
There is no stigma to riding in public transport or living in HDB flats. Singaporeans shared experiences are what gels people here together, despite countries that are rising such as China and India, having an influence on our own ethnic groups.
Or how the local Malay community cannot be exclusivist.
And PM Lee said the labour movement looks out for Singaporeans, but increasingly more Singaporeans are doing freelance and gig jobs that are not afforded protection by the unions.
But the labour movement will work to include everyone.
Oh ya, and then PM Lee briefly said we ought to welcome new citizens who top up our population and because Singapore has been an immigrant society the last 200 years.
And then PM Lee saved the best for last by talking about the next 4G leadership: How the next PM cannot work in silo. He must have a team. And they must think about all these issues raised so far and confront other issues that crop up in the future.
And, oh yes, the opposition Workers’ Party, thank you very much for playing your role to make politics contestable and show that PAP is not the only party who will rule Singapore indefinitely. PM Lee, giving credit where it is due.
And then PM Lee was like: The 4G leaders are expected to make difficult decisions and persuade the population it is the right thing to do.
There is no option. The next team of leaders must work together. It is more than just about the next PM.
And then PM Lee said Singapore will be developed to be responsible to the present generation, grateful to the past and consider the future generations.
Singapore must plan beyond the next election cycle and make it the envy of the world.
And keep progressing.
You can compare this summary with the full 7,700-word transcript provided on the Prime Minister’s Office website.