PM Lee Hsien Loong was nearing the end of his National Day Rally speech when he suddenly turned pale and stumbled. He managed to catch himself, and even wave to the crowd as he was helped off the stage.
Soon after, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that it was not a stroke or a heart attack. PM had felt unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration. PM Lee came back on stage to a standing ovation, and completed his speech. Medical tests later gave him the all-clear.
In his speech, PM talked about the threats facing Singapore and how we will respond to them.
He revealed that terrorism is a serious threat. The government has been picking up extremists in Singapore and getting intelligence of terrorist plots. The SGSecure movement will be launched in September to prepare Singaporeans in the case of a domestic terrorist attack.
Due to concerns about the spread of extremist ideology, the Government will strengthen a scheme that endorses religious teachers or asatizah.
2. Leadership succession
PM joked that his near-fainting highlighted the urgency of leadership succession. He said the next generation of leaders must be ready to take over after the next General Election.
He announced that next-generation leader Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat would be back to work after a stroke in May, and Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong would be appointed Second Minister for Finance to help him.
3. Racial tension
He highlighted that if minority races don’t feel someone of their race can be President, it might lead to resentment and racial tension. This will be taken into account when reviewing the elected presidency.
He also said the requirement that candidates have run companies with $100m paid-up capital or more is “out of date”, and this number might be raised.
4. Regional instability
He detailed what Singapore stands for on the South China Sea territorial disputes: making sure international law is upheld, that freedom of navigation is not affected and ASEAN remains united and effective on the international stage.
He also shared progress in relations with Malaysia and Indonesia on railway land, a high-speed rail between Singapore and KL, economic cooperation and haze.
5. Economic disruption
PM talked about how technology is disrupting traditional business and employment models. But he was optimistic that with Singapore’s educated and tech-savvy population, we will be able to ride this wave and come out stronger from it. The SkillsFuture movement will enable Singaporeans to learn new skills and deepen their skills, so they can grasp opportunities in the new economy.