Our journey as a nation started 57 years ago, but the first stirrings of our shared identity emerged when we cast our first votes in the 1955 Legislative Assembly elections. David Marshall, Singapore’s first Chief Minister, went to London to try and achieve self-determination for Singapore. However, the British famously had reservations about our ability to survive then. Independence was thus a daunting prospect, with the odds stacked against us after separation from Malaysia in 1965.
A shortage of domestic industry, a heavy reliance on foreign businesses, and a lack of housing were all challenges that had to be overcome. Yet our pioneers overcame these through their sheer determination to make life better for their children. By the 1990s, we were one of the Four Asian Tigers, thanks to their hard work and drive.
Today, while we reap the rewards of their labour, we continue our search for solutions for our next step of development. In echoes of our early years, our over-reliance on foreign labour inputs, shortage of globally competitive local businesses, astronomical housing prices and high inflation present challenges to younger Singaporeans achieving their dreams. Working Singaporeans also have to contend with stiff global competition and all the pressures of modern life which place a strain on their financial resources and mental health.
Workers’ Party MPs have advanced proposals in Parliament to help Singaporeans cope with the high cost of living and other issues of concern. These proposals include using macroeconomic tools to mitigate inflation, making housing, medical treatment and transport more affordable, improving preventive health, breaking the poverty cycle, co-creating a stronger response to the climate emergency, empowering women to achieve their full potential and making our justice system more accessible. In our constituencies, our MPs and volunteers continue to reach out to residents to understand their concerns and help address their needs.
As a country, we have survived the dark clouds of a global pandemic, and a ray of sunlight is now shining through. We must navigate the path ahead with a sense of purpose and unity as fellow Singaporeans, even as we share many diverse aspirations and dreams. With a collective effort, we will be able to overcome today’s challenges to build Singapore into the nation we want it to be.
I wish all Singaporeans a very happy 57th National Day!