Speaking off the cuff, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said in his National Day Message in 1971,
“I am not here tonight to preach blood, sweat and tears or talk about the apocalypse. You have done well, six superb years, a magnificent performance against all the odds, so much so that everybody says, ‘But, of course, everybody knows that Singapore is a very well-endowed place, geographically favoured by the gods, good infrastructure, communications, sea, air, land, good banking system, skilled workers. Oh, just natural course of events.’ It wasn’t, you know. We made it so.
And if a lot of the stupid things I read in the newspaper, if the people who wrote those stupid things were listened to, you wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have this occasion. You wouldn’t have flowers, you know, every potted plant means effort, organisation, somebody with green fingers, fertilisers. It could have so very easily been otherwise.”
Tough love was needed to maintain an upward trajectory. That was the gist of his message in 1971.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out years of progress. We have to rebuild and re-establish our positions.
We should not take for granted that when the pandemic is over, we will still be an aviation hub. We will need to fight back, secure and revive our aviation sector.
Our seaport and airport are our lifelines. Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung likens them to “vital organs to the Singapore economic body, almost like our lungs ‘ taking oxygen ‘ oxygenate and vitalise various parts of the body”.
When heavy rain poured in 1968, Mr Lee Kuan Yew decided that the parade would go because to do otherwise would have implied that Singaporeans were not resilient.
Today, we are experiencing the pandemic storm. And we will be celebrating National Day to show our resilience and tough love for the nation.