Good evening. May I welcome you to this citizenship presentation ceremony, and congratulate the 150 residents who have just become Singapore citizens.
2 Today’s Singapore is built by generations of immigrants who hailed from the Malay archipelago, India, China, Indonesia and other Asian countries. They came to seek better lives here for themselves and their families. Many decided to settle down and made Singapore their home. Many immigrants continue to be drawn to Singapore from all parts of the globe, as they find Singapore an attractive place to work, live and raise a family.
3 As a Singapore citizen, you are now a member of our multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-lingual community. Here, you enjoy political stability, economic progress, a safe and secure environment and good infrastructure including quality public housing, transportation, healthcare and education. Even as you enjoy all these, do bear in mind that citizenship comes with obligations too.
Commitment to a shared destiny
4 What truly defines us as Singaporeans is that we choose to be Singaporeans. We take pride in who we are and what we stand for, and we are commonly committed to a shared destiny. We will uphold the values of multi-racialism, meritocracy and incorruptibility, and we will defend this “Little Red Dot.” As you recite the Singapore pledge, you will understand that we are committed to Singapore’s progress regardless of our different backgrounds in race, language or religion.
5 For new citizens, a challenge that you may face is understanding and managing the cultural differences with other Singaporeans. Such cultural differences are inevitable and unavoidable. Over time, as new citizens integrate into the community, the differences will narrow. Integration is a two-way process. Just as Singaporeans need to understand and accept new immigrants, new citizens also need to make the effort to become a part of the Singapore community.
6 Two weeks ago, I announced in Parliament the setting up of a National Integration Council to drive our integration efforts for new citizens in a coordinated and concerted manner. The representation of the public, private and people sectors in the Council recognises the important role that all of us play in helping new citizens integrate into the Singapore community.
Integrating with the local community
7 By holding the citizenship ceremony in the company of other Singaporeans and grassroots leaders today, we are not just extending our welcoming arms to you, we are also recognising the important role played by Singaporeans especially grassroots leaders in integrating new citizens.
8 The grassroots leaders will help you to integrate into the local community through various community activities. I encourage you to make good use of the opportunities to get to know your neighbours and fellow residents. Participate actively in the activities and programmes organised by your local community-based organisations such as the Residents’ Committees, Neighbourhood Committees, Community Club and Citizens’ Consultative Committees. You may even meet grassroots leaders who are new Singapore Citizens just like you, and they have decided to be part of the grassroots movement as they find the community programmes meaningful and purposeful.
Conclusion: Key to success is our people
9 Acquiring a foreign citizenship is a deeply personal decision made as much with the heart as with the mind. Regardless of your background, in choosing to make Singapore your new home, you now play a part in Singapore’s future. The key to our continued success is our multi-racial people – made up of Singaporeans who are citizens by birth or by choice. And as long as we remain united and cohesive, we will be able to sow the seeds of growth for future generations of Singaporeans.
10 I am confident that many of you today will be able to achieve your dreams and aspirations in Singapore, and I hope that you will also find the time to do community service and help other Singaporeans, especially in these times of economic uncertainties.
11 Finally, let me wish all of you and your families good health and happiness. Thank you.