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PM Lee: Be confident of future

Singapore, in its 50th year, should focus on three principles: look outwards, be good-hearted but hard-headed and be confident of the future by remembering what it achieved in the past.

That was the message Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spelt out in a major speech to the National University of Singapore Society yesterday.

Mr Lee noted that Singaporeans had been concentrating on what is happening at home, especially the urgent issues of housing, public transport and medical care.

"But perhaps because we are so focused on these issues, I fear Singaporeans are not paying enough attention to what is happening outside of Singapore," he told an audience of more than 1,000 alumni and guests.

"We cannot afford to navel-gaze and ignore what is happening outside."

Mr Lee stressed the need for the economy to grow if good-hearted policies are to be sustainable.

"Without resources, good intentions mean nothing. We must still grow the economy, as it is the only way our people can have a good life. A rich society is not necessarily a happy society, but impoverished societies are seldom happy. We must not go pell-mell for growth regardless of social, human or environmental costs, nor are we doing so.

"But I worry when people say we can afford to take it easy on growth and talk airily about more important things in life. They don't understand what their well-being depends on."

LOOK FORWARD

On his third theme, Mr Lee said: "Even as we focus on the present, we must look forward to and have confidence in our future.

"And perhaps less obviously, we must also know and understand the past. Unless we understand our past, we will fail to understand what Singapore's success depends on; why Singapore works the way it does."

The ultimate danger is to be "unjustifiably pessimistic about our future prospects," he said.

"I urge all of us to look outwards not just inwards, act with both our heads and our hearts, take heart from the past and be confident of the future."

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