Published: 02 August 2017
DPM Teo Chee Hean,
Home Team colleagues, volunteers, friends and partners
1. We come together to celebrate 52 years of independence. Symbols, observances along the journey of nationhood is important even for much older countries. They celebrate it because it is a renewal of the key values that make the country what it is. It is even more important for a much younger country like ours, for us to come together, and have these observances annually. You have the National Day Parade, it brings our people together, it underlines what values made us successful and what hope there is for the future.
2. The theme this year "One Nation Together", is a basic theme. It's what we have been emphasizing right through our nationhood. The spirit of unity within our people, is what has made us overcome our challenges, build a better Singapore, and really the key to our success. It is even more important, if one can put it in those terms today, where the internal challenges, some which I have spoken with many of you before – the changing demographics, the changing nature of society, the challenges, for example, that we face in the Home Team – is spread across everywhere, in a much more mature economy. And within the context of much larger changes in the external environment – geostrategic changes. The fundamental assumptions that were clear in the last 50 years are changing both in the region and in the larger international sphere. It is going to require a lot of dexterity, a lot of skill and a fair bit of luck to negotiate that. That can only be done if we are united internally.
Commemorating 50 years of National Service
3. We celebrate and commemorate 50 years of National Service this year. One basic way we built our unity and sense of nationhood is through National Service. We celebrate 50 years of National Service this year. It's been fundamental to our sovereignty, safety, security and has helped unite Singaporeans from all walks of life, regardless of race, religion, or family background, and it is really a rite of passage into both manhood and nationhood.
4. For Home Team National Servicemen, they are a key part of our operations, and we have continued to integrate them in greater and more important roles in the frontline in many areas, and also focusing on their welfare. This year, we announced more substantive roles for them in protective security frontline patrols.
5. On the other side of things, the new Tampines Home Team NS clubhouse was opened in February. It has been very popular with our NSmen and their families. We have also announced a massive redevelopment, a Home Team NS clubhouse masterplan, to build three new clubhouses in good locations over the next 10 to 15 years.
6. In order to bring that message across, both to the NSmen as well as the broader public, as to what we do, what our NSmen do, we have started a "Frontliners" web series. It shows our NSmen in action, undergoing training, responding to cases, acting in the frontlines. It was launched a few days ago on the 21st of July, on the Home Team News Youtube and Facebook pages. It has been receiving very good responses. I hope more people will go in and look at it. A new episode will be released every week.
IMPORTANCE OF UNITY
7. So as each National Day, as we pledge to ourselves to keep to what has made us successful and look forward to the future, pledge ourselves in the spirit of unity. In that spirit today, we also celebrate our award recipients, nearly 200 of them. They, in many ways, symbolise that spirit of unity. They give their time, their effort and their skills to help others. Some have volunteered with the Home Team for decades. Others have saved the lives of strangers and kept our neighbourhoods free of crime. Your public-spiritedness is an example for the rest of Singapore.
8. Let me end by quoting Chairman of the East Asian Institute, Professor Wang Gungwu, one of our renowned scholars, about the spirit of unity and what a small state like Singapore can achieve. He said, "A small state with a united people who are clear about what they need to survive, can achieve great things and influence others. Just because we are small, does not mean that we have to be weak."
9. Thank you, and Happy National Day.