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PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally 2019: Liveblog Updates And Commentary As They Happen

Latest updates and commentary from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally 2019 as it happens.

The National Day Rally 2019

The National Day Rally is the annual address delivered by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, setting out the government’s views of happenings in Singapore and around the world, and its priorities and policies in response to opportunities and challenges of today and the future.

The main English National Day Rally 2019 speech will take place on 18 August 2019 at 8.15pm. It will be broadcast ‘live’ on Mediacorp TV channels and radio, as well as online on the Prime Minister’s Office YouTube channel and PM Lee’s Facebook page.

In a ‘trailer’ released yesterday, on 17 August 2019, PM Lee said that on this occasion of Singapore’s Bicentennial year, he will be reflecting on the country’s journey from Singapore to Singaporeans, US-China relations and how it affects us, the economy and how the government is looking after companies and workers, the cost of pre-school and tertiary education and measures to keep both affordable, as well as climate change and how it affects Singapore.

Here are some relevant readings from DollarsAndSense:

National Day Rally 2018: Live Updates And Commentary

National Day Rally 2018: 5 Key Announcements That Might Affect You

Singapore Budget 2019 Liveblog : Live Updates And Commentary As It Happens

Singapore Budget 2019: Here Are 4 Of The Most Important Announcements That Affect All Of Us

 National Day Rally 2019 Liveblog

6:45PM: PM Lee Hsien Loong has started delivering his National Day Rally 2019 speech in Malay, followed by Mandarin. He will begin his main English speech at 8.15pm. Stay tuned!

8:15PM: PM Lee Hsien Loong starts his National Day Rally 2019 speech by sharing about the various efforts and events by Singaporeans to commemorate the Singapore Bicentennial.

8:18PM: Due to popular demand and feedback, the Bicentennial Experience at Fort Canning will be extended to the end of the year for more Singaporeans to visit and enjoy.

8:19PM: PM Lee briefly outlines the topics he covered during his Malay and Mandarin speeches.

8:21PM: In his English speech, PM Lee will touch on three points. 1) Enabling all Singaporeans to succeed through Education. 2) Supporting all Singaporeans to work longer. 3) Protecting ourselves from climate change.

Giving Singaporeans The Best Start In Life

8:22PM: Singapore has always supported every young child in their education, with world rankings today bearing testament to Singapore’s efforts.

8:23PM: Singapore wants to support every child even earlier, staring at the pre-school level.

8:25PM: Some efforts include: 1) Pre-school vacancies have been doubled. 2) Facilities have been expanded, including mega-pre-schools. 3) Ministry of Education pre-schools expanded. 4) Better career progression and training for pre-school teachers. 5) Funding and subsidies to keep pre-school fees down.

8:27PM: Income ceiling for means-tested pre-school subsidies raised from $7,500 to $12,000. This will benefit 30,000 more households.

8:29PM: Quantum of pre-school subsidies will also be increased across the board.

8:31PM: PAP MPs raised the need for affordable, quality, government-supported pre-schools available to all Singaporeans. Today, about half of pre-school places are supported by the government. The aim is to raise this to 80%, just like other essentials like housing and healthcare.

8:32PM: PM Lee also wants to share updates on KidSTART, the initiative to support parents who need additional resources and advice to give their kids the best start in life.

8:34PM: KidSTART will be expanded to reach another 5,000 children over the next few years, as the impact of the programme continues to be monitored for further improvements and changes.

8:36PM: Fees for undergraduate programmes at SIT and SUSS will be lowered.

8:37PM: Bursaries for lower-income Singaporean students at local universities will be increased from 50% to 75%.

8:38PM: Bursaries for lower-income Singaporean students at local polytechnics, NAFA and Lasalle will be increased from 80% to 95%.

8:39PM: In fact, 6 in 10 polytechnic students are eligible for such bursaries, so many middle-income Singaporeans will also benefit.

8:40PM: Medical school is rigorous and expensive. More government will be given to keep it affordable, since it is beneficial for Singapore to have doctors who come from diverse educational and family backgrounds.

8:41PM: These changes will be implemented in the next academic year. This is important to ensure all Singaporeans do not feel inferior or disadvantaged, or deterred from pursuing their dreams because of financial background.

8:42PM: Educational institutions themselves also raise funds of their own to support students, including many bursaries that are named after individuals or groups. The government will match donations raised from such fund-raising efforts.

8:45PM: The government support doesn’t end at graduation. Schemes like SkillsFuture help keep Singapore workers relevant, since change is constant.

Supporting Older Singapore Workers

8:46PM: Life expectancy in Singapore is now among the longest in the world, overtaking Japan. So this means many Singaporeans can expect to live beyond 86.

8:47PM: There are now 1,300 Singaporeans who are above the age of 100.

8:47PM: With longer and healthier lives, many Singaporeans wish to work longer. Enabling them to do so takes a multi-pronged effort. From employers, to co-workers, the government, and employees themselves.

8:48PM: Many jobs will change, and some will disappear. Employees must be willing to learn and adapt, while re-skilling must start earlier in a multi-career reality. The government will also support workers in improving their productivity and continued relevance.

8:52PM: DBS cited as a model employer that cares for and supports its older workers to remain relevant and productive by job re-design and employee training. But its not just the big companies that can do so. SMEs can and have done so as well.

8:53PM: Last year, the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers was formed to look into this from the perspective of multiple stakeholders.

8:55PM: The Workgroup made 4 key recommendations. 1) Raise retirement age from 62 to 65. 2) Raise re-employment age from 67 to 70. 3) Increase CPF contributions for older workers. 4) Achieve this in gradual steps by 2030. PM Lee said that the government accepts all of these recommendations in full.

8:56PM: PM Lee addresses the increase of CPF for older workers over 10 years.

8:57PM: The retirement and re-employment ages will be increases gradually from year 2022, and culminating in 2030. As a large employer, the public service will take the lead in this by implementing these changes voluntarily a year earlier.

8:58PM: The government will implement support package for companies to cope with these changes, and DPM Heng Swee Keat will announce these in detail in the Budget next year.

8:59PM: PM Lee clarifies that no change is being made to the CPF Payout Eligibility Age.

Protecting Singapore From Effects Of Climate Change

9:00PM: PM Lee will now talk about renewing Singapore for next 100 years, starting with climate change.

9:01PM: Climate change in a nutshell: human activity leading to global warming. Already, the world’s average temperature has gone up by 1 degree, and ice sheets are melting, which leads to rising sea levels.

9:02PM: Global warming also leads to more extreme weather. In Singapore, we have see rainstorms becoming noticeably heavier.

9:03PM: Food shortages, pandemics, rising sea levels, and even wars. This is why Singapore needs to be concerned and prepared for the effects climate changes.

9:04PM: Flooding is a particularly serious challenge for Singapore. The government has improved the network of drains, and mandated buildings to be constructed at least 3m above sea level. This gives Singapore a good buffer, which is being eroded by rising sea levels.

9:07PM: What does climate change mean for Singapore? Among other things, the Climate Change Research Singapore was set up to answer this question, in partnership with other institutions in the region.

9:08PM: What can Singapore do to mitigate the effects of climate change? Singapore introduced the carbon tax, and public education to conserve electricity and reduce waste. Grassroots efforts, especially from the youth, can also play an important part. Singapore cannot solve climate change along, but she can do her fair share.

9:11PM: What can Singapore to cope with climate change? Raised MRT steps, new regulations that require buildings to be built 4m above sea level, while critical infrastructure need to be built above 5m above sea level.

9:12PM: However, there are many older buildings at low-lying areas that are currently below the ‘safe’ 4m threshold. They will be at risk of flooding during high tide and heavy rains. Safety and liveability of Singapore will be affected, including trains, workplaces, schools will also be effected. Thus, coastal defences will need to be built.

9:14PM: This coastal defence work needs to be prioritised, starting with City-East Coast and Jurong Island areas. Marina Barrage actually houses a pump house with 7 large pumps. PUB has planned and will construct another pump house for the future.

9:16PM: One possible option is to use polders, learning from the experience of the Dutch. A polder is being built at Pulau Tekong to better understand and have experience with using them to protect our coastlines.

9:19PM: Nothing is firm yet, and when the time comes, the best decision will be made. The estimated costs might be $100 billion over 100 years, quite possibly more. We have time, and can begin planning for it.

9:20PM: Climate change defences need to be taken as seriously as national defence. Keep the focus, deploy resources every year, and maintain willingness to commit to it. Unlike the SAF, climate change is a reality that will happen. We must make effort now, otherwise the future generations will suffer at our inaction.

Remaking Singapore

9:22PM: Aside from climate change, there are also plans to remake Singapore’s coastline. PM Lee spoke previously about the Greater Southern Waterfront, which is twice the size of Punggol. Today, there are more concrete plans for this, including moving ports away, to allow this place to be remade for better living, working and playing.

9:24PM: Keppel Club’s leases will be expiring in 2 years, which will free up space for at least 9,000 housing units. Already there are business parks in the area, housing many MNCs like Google and Unilever.

9:26PM: We can revitalise Sentosa’s beach areas, as well as make better use of the space from the moved ports and decommissioned power stations in Pasir Panjang areas. The government will also dedicate land for the labour movement for a resort area to thank Singapore’s workers.

9:28PM: Singapore’s diversity in people and architecture today reflects her rich history and cultural heritage. Over 200 years, Singapore has built and re-built our city.

9:31PM: Today, the new downtown area is still growing, while we are already setting our sights on what is to come after that.

9:33PM: The new generation will have a blank slate to build the future Singapore, with the same daring and ambition of Singapore of the past.

9:34PM: PM Lee said that what his government talks about, it will deliver. Punggol Digital District, Changi Terminal 5, Tuas Port, Greater Southern Waterfront. This will not all be done within this generation. Each generation will leave their own mark, like their forebears have done.

9:36PM: PM Lee says that the coming few years will be challenging, and calls on Singaporeans’ support to work together with him and his team to make Singapore a brighter home for all.

9:37PM: End of PM Lee’s National Day Rally 2019 speech. Thank you and good night!

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