August 08, 2019
National Day Message by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education, at the National Day Observance Ceremony in Secondary Schools / Junior Colleges / Centralised Institute
Dear Principals, Teachers, Staff and Students:
1. On this National Day, I thought I would pose a basic question: What makes us a nation?
2. For a start, it is when we sit as equals with other countries, and fly our flag at international events – just like when the Singapore flag is displayed at regional and international meetings. It is also when our athletes hoist our flag high during the opening ceremonies of global sporting events, or when Majulah Singapura was played after Joseph Schooling and Yip Pin Xiu won gold medals for Singapore.
3. We are also a nation when our people work together to defend our country. Every Singaporean is currently doing our part in Total Defence, whether in the military, civil, economic, social, digital or psychological spheres, because we know no one else will defend Singapore except us.
4. We are a nation when we band together and overcome difficulties, just as we did during severe economic downturns like the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and Global Financial Crisis in 2008; or in 2003, when Singaporeans worked as one to stamp out the deadly SARS virus.
5. We are a nation when we can live cohesively as a people, put aside our differences, grow from accommodating to appreciating our diversity, and extend a helping hand to those less fortunate than us.
6. We are a nation when we become distinctively recognisable, just as we can easily identify a Singaporean when we are abroad in a sea of strangers. Perhaps it is in the way we dress, talk, and carry ourselves. More importantly, however, it is when we share common values and dreams for our future.
7. At 54, Singapore is a young country and a work in progress. But with each generation, we mature and grow stronger. So look around you: this is what a nation looks like, and we can make it even better.
8. Have a happy National Day!
MR ONG YE KUNG
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION