TL;DR – Super bo liao. Or not?
PM Lee delivered his National Day Rally speech for 2017.
This year, the things he spoke about seemed rather… micro in nature. But these bo liao things and issues that are seemingly micro in nature have far deeper and wider national implications.
Or so, we think?
1. Singaporeans should have more sex
OK. Those weren’t PM Lee’s exact words. He’d said, “Please have more babies! The champions are Sengkang West families.” But… well… you can’t have babies if you don’t have sex, right?
He said that when he talked about the Government’s heavy investments in early childhood development. This year, the government will spend $840 million on preschools. That is double from five years ago. Similarly, in five years’ time, by 2022, the government will double its annual spending on preschool to $1.7 billion .
This money will go to doing three things.
First, it will create more places in preschools. In the next five years, there will be an additional 40,000 new places, bringing the total to 200,000.
Second, there will be heavy investment in improve the quality of preschool education for ages 5 and 6, i.e. the K1s and K2s. This will be done by increasing the number of kindergartens operated by MOE from 15 to 50.
In so doing, MOE can make a bigger impact beyond its own kindergartens, influencing and uplifting the quality of the whole sector.
Thirdly, the money will go into upgrade the preschool profession in order to attract good teachers and carers. A new institute, called the National Institute of Early Childhood Development (NIEC), will be set up to train preschool teachers.
The government will provide training awards for students of the new institute. Beyond training, the government will also work with employers to ensure good career prospects and competitive pay, while keeping costs to parents manageable.
2. Some Ministers don’t like brown rice
PM Lee also revealed that some Ministers don’t like brown rice. Every week, Ministers and PM meet over lunch before Cabinet meeting. In a bid to get ministers to eat healthier food, they switched to serving brown rice. However, it turned out that the Ministers skip the brown rice at those lunches. Instead, they go home to eat white rice for dinner.
PM Lee made the revelation when he talked about Singapore’s war on diabetes. He also shared how his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, was very disciplined about his food intake.
Singaporeans, on average, live up to 82, but we experience on average 8 years of ill health in old age. As PM Lee said,
“8 years is a long time to be in ill health. It is tough on the old folks, and on their families too, particularly the caregivers”
And diabetes is one big cause of people experiencing ill health in old age. Diabetes damages many organs, which can result in heart attack, stroke, kidney failure. You may also lose your limbs, or go blind. With an ageing population, diabetes can put a massive strain on our healthcare system.
PM lee further said,
“Overall, 1 in 9 Singaporeans have diabetes. But the prevalence increases as you age. If you are my age, over 60, 3 in 10 Singaporeans have diabetes.”
“If you break it down by race, among the Chinese, 2.5 in 10 over 60 will have it; among the Malays, half; and for the Indians, 6 in 10. So this is a very serious problem, and for the Malays and Indians, actually a health crisis.”
With diabetes, personal choice and responsibility make all the difference to whether we get diabetes or not, and if we already have diabetes, whether we keep it under control.
PM Lee suggested that we do four things:
- Go for regular check-ups so that you know as soon as possible if you have diabetes. Then you can do something about it early.
- Exercise more. Try to walk 10,000 steps a day. Incorporate it into your daily routine.
- Eat less and eat healthy. This requires us to be disciplined.
- Cut down on soft drinks.
PM Lee encouraged us to start now so that we can live long, healthy lives.
3. You won’t have to buy parking coupons in Singapore anymore
Remember the chaos when public parking charges were raised? People rushed to get the new parking coupons. As a result, the coupons temporarily went out of stock.
But why are we still tearing coupons anyway? Like PM said, we’ve been doing so for forty years, when other cities are already using apps.
Well, soon, parking coupons will be a thing of the past. The government have now developed an app for street parking called parking.sg, although PM joked that it should really be named ParkingLadyLaiLiao, hurhur!
You pay for how long you park – if you park for 18 minutes, you pay for 18 minutes. The app will alert you when your session is about to end. If you want to park longer, you can extend your session remotely – no need to rush back to your car to add coupons before the parking aunty summons you. The app will be officially launched in October this year.
PM Lee talked about parking coupons in the context of Singapore’s drive to become a Smart Nation. He highlighted that Smart Nation is about Singapore taking full advantage of IT. It’s where we use IT comprehensively to create new jobs, new business opportunities, making our economy productive, our lives more convenient, our society safer and make this an outstanding city in which to live, work and play.
It’s NOT about using technology for the sake of using technology.
It’s not just for young people. It’s for everyone, young and old. And the government will support anyone, regardless of age, who has the interest, to pick up the skills needed to contribute to the Smart Nation drive.
The government is doing this by offering scholarships and sponsorships for engineering. And the SkillsFuture and Professional Conversion Programmes will help Singaporeans build up and upgrade their skills, as well as community programmes.
Do it for the future
These things actually allude to deeper issues that affect our future.
We are making our preschools better because we want every child to start well and have the best chance in life. This will ensure that Singapore’s growth is inclusive. If we win our war against diabetes, we can stay well, live healthily, and enjoy the fruits of our labour. If we are successful in building a Smart Nation, we will be able to create more and better opportunities for all of us, keeping Singapore a leading city in the world.
Let’s hope we can start right, stay well, and live smart.