Singapore needs to reinvent itself to progress: PM Lee

By Olivia Siong dated 26th August 2012

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his National Day Rally speech in Mandarin on Sunday, said Singapore will need to seize opportunities and reinvent itself to progress in the next 20 years.

Singapore’s situation is similar to other East Asian economies — like Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea — whose era of rapid growth is over.

Singapore, like the others, is in search of new strategies and formulas.

While many of the East Asian economies are anxious about their future, Mr Lee said Singapore is better off than many others.

Mr Lee said people from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have sent study groups to look at Singapore’s social and economic policies.

But as Singapore evolves, Chinese Singaporeans should not neglect their culture.

The prime minister said he supported recent proposals to set up a Chinese Cultural Centre and a Singaporean Hokkien Huay Kuan Cultural Academy.

Mr Lee said: “Our Chinese community has always been concerned about the preservation and promotion of culture and tradition.

“Chinese culture is an important pillar of Singapore culture. It is an emotional anchor and moral compass for many Singaporeans. We should preserve our cultural roots, lest we lose ourselves in this ever-changing world.”

Mr Lee said traditions and culture help strengthen the sense of identity, and the Chinese language here has local characteristics.

He said: “Recently, a National Day documentary shown on our local TV channel had some translation errors. For example, National Servicemen was translated as “national soldiers”, and HDB flats became “national housing”.

“This drew many criticisms. The mistakes were clearly made by foreign translators. The translators were competent in Chinese, but they did not know our local context or terms.”

Prime Minister Lee said Singaporeans have a unique culture, but this meant that new immigrants must work harder to integrate.

Mr Lee added that Singaporeans understand the local norms for acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. But new immigrants need time to learn and understand the Singapore mindset.

Mr Lee also encouraged everyone to stay positive, lead active lives and be self-reliant.

He said while it will be easier for younger Singaporeans to adapt, it is also possible for older people to keep up, though help must continue to be provided.

Mr Lee cited a few existing examples, including training courses and upgrading programmes offered by the government and NTUC, to allow older workers to acquire new skills and improve their job prospects.

Article reference source from Channel News Asia

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