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Work & Play in Singapore: DPM Lee Hsien Loong

Excerpt of speech at Pre-university Seminar 2003


I know some young people feel that they were born too late - all the good things in life, such as cheap cars and houses, have been taken up already by their parents' generation. Instead, their lot is to deal with formidable economic, social, and political challenges. Some may think that it is better to up stakes and go somewhere else where life is better.

This is a profoundly mistaken view. Think about it: you have choices which your parents never had. Our economy now offers a wide range of jobs. Our society invites and accepts a broad spectrum of ideas. You can even choose whether to stay in Singapore or to leave.

How did you come to have these choices? It is through the country investing in you, and our schools equipping you with the best skills, skills that enable you to compete with the best in the world, and if you so choose to go elsewhere. All of us speak English, which makes us highly marketable all over the globe.

This is the dilemma for the Government. The more successfully we educate you, the more mobile you become. But if the best educated up stakes and leave, then Singapore will regress and fail. It is right to invest in our people. But we can only continue to do so if those who benefit the most from this system contribute back to it their fair share and more.

Every generation has to set its own goals. If you seek rewarding challenges, building the new Singapore will offer you challenges aplenty. The two JC students I cited, and others like them, are already starting to do their part. The climate is difficult, but the opportunities are there. You are lucky to be young in this exciting era. Shaping tomorrow's Singapore in this bracing environment is work not just for a select few, but for a whole generation of young, energetic, and idealistic people.

I know that JC students are often sceptical of the Government. You sometimes doubt that the Government knows what it is doing. You may think that it is not listening to your concerns, or responding sensibly to them. In fact we are most interested in what young Singaporeans think, because you are the future of Singapore. What do you want in life? What motivates you? Who among you will emerge as leaders? These are important questions.

We are also interested in getting young people involved thinking about Singapore's problems as early as possible. If you have a view to contribute, there are many avenues for doing so. There is no need to hold mass rallies in your JC, like the Communists used to do in the Chinese middle schools 50 years ago.


NEW WEB SITES is the official SARS Web site in Singapore. It pools together SARS-related information from all Singapore Government sites and presents it for various local and foreign audiences. It also contains the latest SARS-related press releases and selected media articles.

Click New Web sites for the rest of the list.

We are now 5387 pages thick and growing.

Public Holidays NATIONAL DAY is the next public holiday. It falls on Saturday 9 August 2003.



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4 June 2003

Singapore Time