SINGAPORE - When the Government unveiled the Population White Paper in January, with its now infamous 6.9 million headline figure, the knee-jerk reaction of Singaporeans was palpable.
"Oi, siao ah!" seemed to be the collective response.
But these same people, if they caught Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech on Sunday night, would likely react a lot differently.
"Heng, ah!" they may have said, heaving sighs of relief.
I don't know about you, but I found PM's promise that the State, along with the community, will do more to help individual Singaporeans cope with the changing local and global landscape, reassuring, especially considering the promise was backed by solid policy changes.
This year's speech is arguably the most politically significant one he has given since taking over as Prime Minister in 2004.
His choice of venue for the speech - the $500 million ITE College Central - was also significant, to signal that this would not be a typical rally speech.
Education, housing, and healthcare are possibly the three biggest worries for Singaporeans. And in one fell swoop, PM Lee lightened the load with a slew of major changes in all three areas.
Anxious about rising healthcare costs? Fret not.
Worried you can't put a roof over your family? Relax.
Stressed about school admissions and exams? Don't worry.
The changes are significant, and we stand to benefit a lot.
But apart from these benefits, I think Singaporeans gained something else just as significant from PM Lee's speech on Sunday night - trust that the Government will do all it can to take care of us.
Whether it was through the Our Singapore Conversation consultation process, or the outpouring of woes in the social media, or complaints from Meet the People sessions, this speech gives confidence that feedback from Singaporeans is not going into a bureaucratic black hole.
The reassuring tone of the speech is also worth noting, like how PM Lee repeatedly said not to worry, and how he choked back tears while thanking last year's Singapore Youth Award winner Dr Yeo Sze Ling, who is blind, for showing Singaporeans what they can achieve no matter what their circumstances are.
Indeed, I think the speech sends an unequivocal message from the Government - if you are a Singaporean, we will have your back, no matter what.
So what if we might hit 6.9 million people on this Little Red Dot by 2030?
Something tells me we're going to be all right.
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