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9 August 2009

Singapore PM calls for unity in National Day message

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In an annual televised National Day message on Saturday evening, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country is now in a stronger position than at the start of the year, reported Channel News Asia.

As long as Singaporeans remain united in facing the challenges ahead, he believes the country will pull through.

While Singapore could not avoid the global economic storm, Lee said the country took proactive action such as bringing the budget forward and drawing on past reserves for schemes like Jobs Credit.

Now, with the global economic situation stabilising, the country's economy has bounced back strongly in the second quarter. Despite being among the worst-hit economies, it still has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world.

"But it's too early to celebrate. The outlook remains clouded. The advanced economies aren't expected to bounce back soon. Our exports remain much lower than last year, and companies like Singapore Airlines (SIA) are still facing very tough conditions. We might see another wave of retrenchments later in the year, so we must stay on guard for more challenges to come," said the prime minister.

While the current difficulties look daunting, Lee said they should be seen against a longer perspective.

"Over this half century, Singa?pore has encountered many serious challenges – racial riots in the 60s, oil shocks in the 70s, a major recession in the 80s, the Asian Crisis in the 90s, the 9/11 attacks and SARS in this decade. Each time our people have rallied and prevailed," he said.

"This unity is key to our success in many fields. We must work hard to strengthen it, and to bridge potential divides within our society, be it between Singaporeans and new arrivals, between rich and poor, or most fundamental of all, between the different races and religions."


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