PM Lee calls on S’poreans to brace themselves for further uncertainties

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has urged Singaporeans to brace themselves for further uncertainties.

In his Lunar New Year message, Mr Lee said the “Year of the Rat” begins under challenging circumstances.

But he added that there’s reason to remain confident because Singapore is in a strong position to weather any storm.

Turbulence in the financial markets worldwide has shaken consumer and investor confidence.

The US economy is slowing down and may slide into recession, and energy as well as as food prices have soared.

Given such challenging situations, PM Lee called on Singaporeans to prepare for more uncertainties.

He also gave the assurance that the government can and will directly help those in need.

“The Workfare Income Supplement Scheme made its first payment last month, paying $150 million to 290,000 low-income workers. With good growth, we have the resources to help ease the burden on Singaporeans, especially for the poor and elderly,” said PM Lee.

And like the rat in the Chinese zodiac, which symbolises wit, imagination and resourcefulness, Mr Lee called on Singaporeans to harness their creativity and ingenuity to tackle the challenges ahead.

So despite the difficulties, Singaporeans can look forward to another good year.

Mr Lee’s Lunar New Year message also touched on the importance of the family. He said this is the time for reunion and bonding.

“However busy we are, however faraway we may be from home, we should try to keep these traditions alive. If you are working abroad and cannot make it back for the New Year, at least call your parents and families back home, or better still, chat over the Internet using a webcam. These customs maintain and renew our bonds of family and kinship,” said Mr Lee.

He pointed out that government policies are formulated to preserve the family structure and foster close ties.

Mr Lee added that there are also concerted efforts to turn Singapore into a great place for families to bring up children.

The prime minister said it has been three years since the government introduced major policies to encourage families to have more children.

The downward trend in the number of births has been reversed, but only slightly.

There were 37,000 resident births in 2007, just 2,000 more than in 2004.

Mr Lee said it will take time for mindsets to change. And on its part, the government’s studying an even friendlier environment for families to have and raise children.

The Prime Minister wishes all Singaporeans a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year. – CNA /ls

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 6 Feb 2008

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