SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech gave me a sense of optimism for the future of Singapore that I have not felt for a long time.
He was the face of a more compassionate government, which values Singaporeans for who they are and not what they become.
This is the fundamental assurance that we deserve: That being Singaporean is something that is not merely transactional; it is a mutually assured relationship between the country and its offspring that is akin to blood ties.
Using a parent and a child as an analogy, a Singaporean born here is the "child of the land". And in that sense, an immigrant is like an adopted child who, over time, will become a true-blue Singaporean.
Just like a parent, Singapore needs to provide for the basic human needs so that all Singaporeans can live fulfilling lives.
The government of the day and the people - made up of communities and individuals - shoulder the responsibility of deepening our roots. And that responsibility, from time to time, will cause disagreements and unhappiness, which should be taken positively.
In that sense, the government of the day is transient and the people are the bedrock to which Singapore is tied. In this partnership, the government needs to continually listen to the people and make decisions regarding our collective future.
The Singapore I look forward to is one where education is a given, based on one's ability and interest as first priority with the nation's economy a close second; where a roof over one's head is a given, be it through ownership, rental or welfare; and where medical treatment is a given, regardless of one's financial status.
And most importantly, a Singapore where the assurance we deserve comes from the collective of Singaporeans that form the government, the community and the individual.
- Ng Cheow Siang
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