The National Day Rally is often said to be one the most important political speech every year—kind of like the State of the Union in the US.
This year, however, it is much more important, for some significant announcements were made.
Here are the ones that are more important, summarized for you.
Masks to be Optional Almost Everywhere
Let’s start with the news that everyone’s waiting for.
Soon, people in Singapore will be able to take off their masks almost everywhere, like they did before COVID-19.
PM Lee said that now that the country’s situation is getting better, the Government will reduce the number of times people have to wear masks to prevent fatigue.
Masks will only be required on public transportation, where people are close together for long periods of time in a crowded space, and in healthcare settings like clinics, hospitals, residential and nursing homes, where there are vulnerable people.
PM Lee said that students shouldn’t have to wear masks to school, as they need to be able to see the facial expressions of their teachers and each other in order to learn and grow.
Soon, the COVID-19 Multi-Ministry Task Force would be giving us the good news.
Section 377A to be Repealed
In a news that surprise no one since the media has suddenly picked up on this issue in recent weeks, something is finally done about Section 377A.
According to PM Lee, Section 377A of the Penal Code, which makes sex between males illegal, would be repealed.
More Singaporeans have come to recognize that private sex between consenting guys shouldn’t be considered a crime.
However, he highlighted that the majority of Singaporeans do not want the repeal to result in a radical change in all societal standards, including what constitutes marriage and what is taught to children in schools.
The main concern of some people on this subject is what they believe what Section 377A stands for and that its repeal may stimulate more aggressive and polarizing action on all sides.
According to PM Lee, Singapore would respect and protect the institution of marriage even as it repeals Section 377A. Singapore only recognizes marriages between men and women, and many national laws, including those governing public housing and adoption, are still based on this concept.
The definition of marriage as well as these policies will remain unchanged by the government.
He added that currently, the definition of marriage could be challenged in the courts, like Section 377A has been. If such a challenge succeeds, it could cause same-sex marriage to become recognised.
Hence to protect the definition of marriage from being challenged in the courts, the Government will amend the Constitution.
According to PM Lee, this will enable Singapore to remove Section 377A in a methodical, deliberate manner.
Well, at least this is a good first step, eh?
New Homes to be Built in Paya Lebar
And here’s the next good news: new homes will be built in Paya Lebar.
PM Lee said that about 150,000 new homes, both public and private, will be built where the Paya Lebar Airbase is. This is about how many homes there are in Punggol and Sengkang right now.
In the 2030s, work will start on moving the air base. The air base and the industrial areas around it will make an area that is five times as big as Toa Payoh.
The new town will have things to do and places to relax, as well as commercial and industrial areas that will bring jobs closer to people’s homes.
PM Lee said that once the air base moves out, some restrictions on building height in towns like Hougang, Marine Parade, and Punggol can be lifted.
This means that the town can be redeveloped so that the space there is used better.
Terminal 5 & Tuas Port Development
The pandemic-induced two-year hiatus in the development on Changi Airport’s Terminal 5 will end, according to PM Lee. More passengers will pass through the new terminal each year than T1 and T3 combined, at around 50 million.
The terminal’s architecture will incorporate the lessons learned during the pandemic and allow for the conversion of sections for testing or the separation of high-risk travelers.
Autonomous cars might be used to help in cargo and luggage transportation. According to PM Lee, T5 will also be greener and more energy-efficient.
The Government will also create the Changi East Urban District next to it, a brand-new destination for business and lifestyle.
Two berths at the massive Tuas Port were made operational in December of last year. By December of this year, three more will begin operating.
The port will have 66 berths covering 26 km when it is fully operational and can accommodate the biggest container ships.
According to PM Lee, Singapore’s port was able to handle additional volumes during the epidemic because it had planned ahead, whereas ports in other nations encountered closures, major traffic jams, and protracted delays.
The first phase of Tuas Port has just been finished, and there will be three more phases before it is finished completely in around 20 years. It will be the biggest totally automated port in the entire globe.
Then, it will be able to handle 65 million 20-foot equivalent units, which is roughly twice as much as it does now.
Leadership Renewal Going Well
No, relax, my dear readers. While there were big announcements made, PM Lee isn’t retiring today.
Instead, he spoke about the leadership in the country.
A united people, a high-quality leadership team and high trust between the people and their leaders are three elements Singapore must get right, according to PM Lee, to address the difficulties it faces.
He highlighted effective leadership as an essential quality. He quoted examples of nations where political deadlock prevents initiatives from passing through, saying, “Often, it is not just the leaders who disappoint, but the whole system that has failed.”
As a result, people have less faith in the political class as a whole as well as in specific politicians or political parties.
He claimed that having the proper leaders is essential to Singapore’s survival and that leadership succession is therefore of utmost importance.
He is pleased that his succession plans, which had been put on hold when COVID-19 hit, are back on track now that the younger ministers have selected Lawrence Wong to be their leader. He said, “I am also glad that from everything I see, Singaporeans are supportive of Lawrence and his leadership of the team.”
So, would PM Lee be giving the National Day Rally next year, or would be it PM Wong?
You can watch the entire National Day Rally here.
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