5 things about PM Lee's May Day Rally speech
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered his May Day Rally speech on Friday (May 1) at The Star Performing Arts Centre.
It was the 56th May Day Rally and there have been 55 rallies in total.
Here are five things he talked about.
The speech started off with a blast from the past.
PM Lee recalled how it was former prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who declared May Day a public holiday in 1960.
At the first such rally, the statesman had declared: "May Day 1960 will always be a notable occasion in the history of the trade union movement of Singapore.
"For this is the first time that May Day is celebrated in Singapore when there is a government which is openly on the worker's side."
On this day ever year, the Government renews its promise to always be on the side of workers, said PM Lee.
PM Lee, who underwent surgery in February to remove his cancerous prostate gland, shared that doctors recently gave him the all-clear.
He said his survival rate for the disease is 98 per cent after 15 years.
This means he is unlikely to die of it, he said.
But he added that in 15 years’ time, he will be 78, and even if prostate cancer does not cause him trouble, something else could happen to him.
Singapore needs to form the next team of leaders to take the country forward, Mr Lee said.
"Just because you are a minister doesn’t mean you are Superman, doesn’t mean you won’t get ill, doesn’t mean you won’t grow old," he said.
PM Lee is 63 years old this year. In 10 years time, he will be 73.
He said he really should not be the one to attend the next Asia-Africa Summit in 2025.
The people must make sure his successor will do the country proud and protect Singapore's interests, said Mr Lee.
The relationship between Singapore’s Government and the country’s workers is the strongest and longest-lasting in the world, said PM Lee.
"Our unions are equal partners with employers and the Government," he said.
In Singapore, the Government, workers and employers partner in growing and upgrading the economy, in a tripartite system that has delivered results "not just over one or two election terms, but over 50 years", he said,
He is "aghast" when he hears opposition politicians claim that tripartism is obsolete and that workers must fight the Government and their employers.
Either these politicians do not understand the importance of tripartism, or they understand it but are not interested in workers’ welfare and are trying to stir trouble to exploit workers for their own political ends, Mr Lee added.
As a small country, we must remain exceptional to survive. Otherwise, we will be pushed around and shoved about, said PM Lee.
"If we just want to be as good as our neighbours, habis liao (die already)," added Mr Lee.
Though we are small, we are the largest foreign investor in China and India, countries which are 250 times and 50 times bigger than Singapore respectively, he said.
He noted that numerous foreign leaders attended Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral service, and India and New Zealand even flew flags at half-mast in their own countries.
"Would they have done that if Singapore had been an ordinary country, if (the elder) Mr Lee had been an ordinary leader?", he said.
But to stay exceptional will be "the most difficult job", he added.
To succeed, Singapore will need three key ingredients: a successful economy, hardworking and skillful workers, and outstanding leadership.
Education and training through the SkillsFuture initiative will be critical, failing which workers will face a bleak future, said Mr Lee.
Source: The Straits Times