Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks to the country tonight.
Two new aspects this year: the location has shifted from the dreary, old National University of Singapore to the swanky, new Institute of Technical Education, and much of PM Lee’s message will be premised upon the year-long. Our Singapore Conversation process. Every year we do something different (if you recall, PM Lee was preceded by three of his colleagues last year). Because of this focus, if I am not mistaken, there will also be an exhibition showcasing the highlights from the entire OSC engagement process. In addition, we know that housing, education, and healthcare will be the main themes.
So follow this page, and my Twitter account (@guanyinmiao). I will be reproducing key points (as many will do), but will supplement – from the perspective of a young Singaporean – with (hopefully) quirky musings, and broader policy implications.
Before the event commences, you can read about my past NDR and OSC experiences:
– My first NDR in 2011 (here), and live-blogging in 2012 (here).
– Participating in the first phase of the OSC (here), two on education – one organised by the Education Ministry, the other is part of the second OSC phase – (here), and a final one, as part of the Committee to Strengthen National Service (here).
– I was also part of an interview, featured in the OSC Reflections report (here).
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THAT’S A WRAP. Now on duty to interview people for The Breakfast Network. Thanks for hanging around; has been a blast (learning how to multitask is great).
9.35pm: Almost the end. Ending on a series of notable Singaporean achievements. And different infrastructural developments in the country.
9.28pm: Sceptical of this new Youth Corps initiative. Fertile ground for portfolio whores (students who do projects not out of altruism, but selfish pragmatism).
9.21pm: Don’t like the DSA changes. Well-intentioned, but problematic implementation.
When you broaden the application criteria, you allow well-to-do families to broaden the existing gaps. Really.
9.12pm: Education is probably something that is more accessible to most. The PM emphasises: every school is a good school (goes in some way to explain the choice of the venue as well).
There is too much focus on examination performance, and not on learning. Four minor adjustments:
– Primary schools should not be closed institutions. At least 40 places will be set aside for students with no prior connections.
– To halt unhealthy comparisons of PSLE scores, it will be scored differently. No more precise scores. At age 12, you can guess one’s potential, but you cannot tell.
– Mechanisms at secondary schools will allow students to move ahead (specialisations.
– DSA categories will be broadened.
8.45pm: There will be new subsidies for outpatient treatment, which will be means-tested. The new Medishield Life will also be universal.
Subtle ways in which the OSC has influenced policy-making: when further consultations and conversations are proposed to go over the finer details.
8.28pm: To segue into the three main categories of Housing, Healthcare, and Education, PM Lee speaks of strategic shifts. We must be a democracy of deeds, not words. Throughout his speech, most of his anecdotes are talking a points from the OSC process.
The PM goes to some length to convince individuals of the affordability of BTO flats (taking into account grants as well).
8.15pm: PM Lee outlines the challenges faced by Singaporeans. Many of these trends are not unfamiliar. We are all in this together, he says.
Singapore has been built on three pillars: the individual, the community, and the state. However, we must now shift the balance. The latter two domains must now do more.
7.57pm: At the NDR, there are three receptions. Before the speeches, in between the speeches, and at the end.
And, what better way to honour MP Baey Yam Keng than to have him take a selfie of us.
7.28pm: During the Mandarin speech, socio-economic disparities were highlighted. Young parents and the elderly will be empowered. 前人种树, 后人乘凉.
Think one can expect the roll-out of many changes in the English speech.
7.15pm: PM Lee has identified challenges that are specific to the Chinese community. SMEs require assistance from the Government to reduce business costs and increase productivity. The foreign worker issue featured heavily, and a workgroup will be established to provide better help.
Whereas last year’s three introductory speeches by the ministers focused on the intangibles, PM Lee has rolled out solutions from the get-go here. Would appear that he is more attuned to on-the-ground concerns.
7.04pm: In general, the Malay speech reinforces familiar points. The community must be active, avoid unnecessary competition and race-based politics. At the same time, safety nets will be strengthened, and the community will progress. He emphasises: it is less important to debate whether an issue is a community or national issue.
A good rally speech could be premised upon two things: first, the active use of human stories; second, policy recommendations.
6.53pm: In Malay, PM Lee welcomes the audience to ITE. As with last year, his speech is anchored by strong illustrations (when speaking of heritage and places of worship).
Besides expounding on the OSC engagement process, he also made reference to Suara Musyawarah, a report focusing on the Malay-Muslim community (after a series of conversations too). He explains that the community shares the same concerns as other Singaporeans.
6.11pm: View from the seat (E9). Five rows from the stage #notbad
5.31pm: At the reception area. Besides the food and refreshments (ha), there is a mock “conversation” going on, with other exhibits.
3.50pm: Here’s the programme outline for the day.