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My takeaway from this year's National Day Rally

5 years ago / ntuc / worklifesg

Is it rude to say that it's the most intense NDR of my life?

If you didn't catch this year's National Day Rally nor hear about PM Lee falling ill, then perhaps you need to start reading up or surfing Facebook PRONTO.


But thankfully he was eventually ok!

This is the first time I had sat fervently at my com watching the Rally (instead of the telly) cause I needed to cover it so I was eating my salmon handroll while typing to the partner that this feels strangely like GE2015 when we were both catching the results on Toggle (not bad lah, I give Toggle business regularly once a year) and erm, agreeing (to disagree) on Line.

And after listening to the Malay, Mandarin and English versions of his speech but not before going through what was probably the most intense 30 minutes of 2016 for most of us... here's my takeaway from last night's Rally.

(The full version of his speech is actually available on YouTube and here's a 90-second summary from Mothership if you're lazy...):

1) Why is he not in his signature pink shirt?



If you are like me, used to PM being in his usual pink getup, did it feel strange also seeing him in his cobalt shirt?


2) Disruption IS real

We cannot ignore it nor pretend it doesn't exist. When was the last time you chose to take a taxi instead of using Uber/ GrabCar? For me... my threshold is 1.7 for surge. Anything less than that, I'd rather pay the extra for Uber because of the convenience and well, I kinda have it already with the attitudes of SOME of the taxi drivers out there... though the good thing is, most of them have actually improved because of the competition they are facing these days.

When I travel, especially recently in KL, Bangkok and Bali, I was using Uber all the time cause to call a spade a spade, I simply didn't trust the taxi drivers very much. Especially in KL - what with the taxi driver scams and how they have been attacking Uber and Grabcar drivers and staging protests... I seriously can't imagine what will happen to my life if Singapore took the ridiculous draconian route of banning Uber, Grab and any other new services which WILL be invented.

Instead of imposing restrictions to protect our taxi companies and drivers, like what PM Lee said, it should be about embracing change and letting the disruption happen so that whilst commuters can enjoy better serving service BUT helping the taxi drivers to adapt.

Like the taxi industry, we cannot stop progress... it is happening to other industries too. Whilst economic growth will be slower, disruption will be observed in practically all sectors globally. With online shopping (ahem... #guiltyascharged) we have effectively removed jobs in the retail sector BUT at the same time created jobs in the logistics and distribution sectors and also new opportunities in data analytics and digital marketing (btw.. does this mean that I have disrupted myself of my old job to get into my new biz?) so this hence means that it is important that workers are retained and in-job workers must also upgrade, second-skill, or third-skill in order to keep up with these changes.

Retrenchment does NOT just affect low-wage workers, PMEBs can be affected too. NTUC earlier this year had predicted an increased likelihood of retrenchment and was quite specific in naming the weaker sectors like marine engineering, specialty chemicals, and printing that have borne the brunt of these challenges. BUT not all is doom and gloom lah... the tripartite partners (NTUC, MOM, SNEF) are trying their best to make sure employers retrench responsibly and also, there are various sources of assistance such as the NTUC PME Unit and e2i that retrenched PMEBs can go to.

3) The threat of terrorism is real

ALSO!!!! I can finally announce now that I've been on Mindef's strategic comms expert panel (and that my contribution to Singapore's defence scene is not merely defined by the man I married lol) and one key thing that has been on our minds for the longest time is that terrorism IS real. Almost every day we hear of new attacks somewhere in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and even closer to home in Indonesia and Malaysia... do you really think that we can somehow build a magical fence and keep this threat out of our borders? And even if we can eradicate the threat from within, who's to stop some nutjobs from trying to attack Marina Bay with rockets fired from Batam?! That being said, whilst we need to stay vigilant, it cannot take over our lives. Don't end up becoming a paranoid nutjob yourself - in the wise words of labour chief Chan Chun Sing, a terrorist attack ‘cannot destroy our unity and rob us of our normalcy’.

4) Multiculturalism


Did you watch the documentary by Channel NewsAsia about race and racism in Singapore?

Personally, I have never thought about it "this way"... I grew up with friends and classmates from different races and tbh, I have never seen them as "different". Especially in this cosmopolitan world we live in today, can we say that Singapore is defined ONLY by the CMIO race classification?


One of my closest girlfriends is Thai and she's married to the biz partner who's Singaporean... when I was living in Thailand, I had friends from all nationalities and races, and never once did I feel like a "minority".

It is fundamental that all religions in Singapore practise their faith in our multi-racial and multi-religious context and want someone of the same race as Prime Minister simply cause... I just want.

We have to take steps to ensure that minority is represented, even if it means some policies will be intrusive, or even deemed as non-democratic.

And errrrmygawd, is PM Lee hinting that we could possibly have a non-Chinese PM i.e. THARMAN?! :heart_eyes:

Which then brings me to my next point...

5) Succession Planning

This is something that is kinda close to my heart because the long story is, we have a family business of sorts and every other day for the last few years, the topic at every family dinner and gathering, we end up talking about succession planning and what's to come.

PM Lee and some of the other ministers aren't young anymore :sob: and with what happened to Minister Heng (I'm super glad he's back!) and made even MORE apparent with what happened to PM last night, building up leadership and preparing for succession is top priority. The next generation of leaders are in 3 key areas - economy, social, education - so that we Singaporeans can look to a future with confidence... so my smartypants guess will be Lawrence Wong, Ong Ye Kung, S. Iswaran and Chan Chun Sing! (Don't quote me on this ah! Just speculating but you guys know lah, me and my mouth lol...)

6) Words of the Day

"May we be blessed with divine discontent - always dissatisfied with where we are now, always driven to do better, and the wisdom to count our blessings."

Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally 2016


Aiya, I love this guy lah!

(Edited to add: I meant PM Lee obvs. Not Brown. I like Brown too, but erm, not as much ><)