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Key points of PM Lee's speech at NTU
Wed, Sep 16, 2009
AsiaOne

a. Can Singapore continue to grow?
b. Can we get good jobs, in the face of competition from Singapore and foreign graduates?

2. I want to focus on the long term in my speech tonight, but let me talk briefly about outlook ahead, which I know is uppermost in your minds
a. Economy has bottomed, but now it is a hard climb back up
b. Stock markets have recovered, US economy has stabilised, but major issues remain
c. In Singapore, employers are hiring again, but unemployment numbers may go up for a while longer
d. New graduates are finding jobs, even though it may take them a bit longer
e. Resilience Package measures are helping (e.g. Professional Skills Programme-Traineeship Scheme to help employers recruit fresh graduates as trainees, and pay for part of their salary and OJT)
f. But please be psychologically prepared for a slow pickup, and even surprises like a W-shaped recovery

3. Taking a longer term perspective, we have achieved much in 50 years
a. Question is:
   i. Is this a forward base camp from which we can scale greater heights?
   ii. Or is this the peak and have we now to accept that we have reached our limits?
b. Up to your generation
c. What type of Singapore you want - a relaxed, quiet kampong, or a buzzing, cosmopolitan city?
   i. Some say "we can be more relaxed" and "no need to go for Number 1 in everything"
   ii. But with that attitude, soon we will be Number 2, then Number 3, and eventually end up a kampong again

4. We certainly have the potential to do better
a. We have made dramatic progress in one generation
    i. Most of you enjoy better lives than your parents
b. We have resources, capabilities, reach to climb further, and become an outstanding city like London, New York or Shanghai

5. We also have every motive to improve on what we have:
a. Standards of living for all, especially lower income citizens
b. Healthcare for all, especially the elderly
c. Education for all, so that every citizen can develop his talents and fulfil his potential
d. All these require resources, and economic growth

6. How can we continue to grow?
a. First understand that space is not something fixed and immutable
b. It depends on how well we make use of what we have, and how we create more space and opportunities for ourselves
c. We should not just passively accept constraints, but actively and creatively transcend them, and expand our space in all directions
d. So instead of asking "Is there room for more?", we should ask "How can we create space and opportunities to do better?"

7. The future offers us many opportunities
a. We are in the middle of Asia, the most dynamic region of the world
b. We can ride on growth of China, India and other East Asian economies
c. Singapore enjoys a high reputation all over Asia

8. But we also face competition
a. We will not have a free ride, just because we are located here and speak our mother tongues
b. Our companies and entrepreneurs have to compete against those from the rest of Asia, and indeed the rest of the world

9. Our most obvious constraint is sheer physical space
a. Singapore is a small island
b. Each time some activity needs to expand, something else must give
   i. More land for roads means less for houses or green spaces
   ii. Expanding our port means less seafront land for premium waterfront recreation

10. Nevertheless, we can find creative solutions to overcome space constraints
a. Intensify land use - go higher and deeper
b. Redevelop land - replace less productive activities with more productive activities
c. Exploit our external wing - link up with markets and factories overseas, so that we make the most of our space in Singapore

Immigration
11. Our critical constraint is not physical space but people
a. With more good people
   i. We can generate new, creative ideas to expand our space
   ii. We will create more opportunities and add to our vibrancy
b. We must build up our population, in a considered, measured way

 
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