Sunday, November 13, 2005


Political Rhetoric in Songs: An analysis of the National Day 2005 Theme Song “Reach out for the skies”


This paper illustrates an example of the ideological reproduction and perpetuation of political rhetoric through the medium of pop music. Specifically, the lyrics to the theme song for Singapore’s 40th National Day celebrations, “Reach out for the skies,” are analysed using the Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) approach, and the analysis is contextualised a particular section of Prime Minister’s National Day Rally Speech the year before. In doing so, I hope to show how the rhetorical ideology of urging Singaporeans to realise dreams and pursue a bright future is ideologically reproduced and perpetuated through the theme song.

In the concluding section of his maiden National Day Rally Speech in 2004 (aptly titled “Our future is bright”), Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong urged Singaporeans to “work together to realise our dreams and to make this bright future for our people and for Singapore” (QUOTE). This represented a departure of sorts from previous speeches, where the former PM had to address the apprehension and pessimism among Singaporeans due to the economic recession and global threat of terrorism. The gist of this section of his speech is that the conditions are now favourable for Singaporeans to act and realise their “high hopes and big dreams”
[1] en route to a bright future for themselves and for Singapore; indeed, notions of “bright future” and “dreams” feature prominently throughout this section of his speech. It comes as no surprise then, that this vision is adopted into the themes for the celebrations of Singapore’s 40th National Day. Even the tagline on the logo, “The future is ours to make,” is a direct quotation off the PM’s speech.[2] In the following section, I shall relate the lyrics of the theme song to this ideology of creating a better future.

Theme and Transitivity

Table (1): Summary of Theme and Transitivity

The song can be seen to be made up of three parts; the first and second verses, the chorus, and verses three and four. The first part has two marked themes; the first in Clause (1) (“at a time”) relates to a temporal past, and allows the reader to evoke instances of Singapore’s history, be it the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, the economic recession in the 1980s and 1990s, or the recent SARS outbreak. Together with the Relational Attributive process in Clause (1) (“hope was low”) as well as the unmarked theme “the journey” and the Mental process “seemed” in Clause (2), the reader is reminded of the gloom and uncertainty that the population faced during bad times. Here, the indefiniteness of the temporal frame seems to allow the intended listener to have her/his interpretation of historical events that is relevant to her/him. The second marked theme in Clause (3) “(But) through it all” emphasises that those turbulent times are over, and at the same time, serves to highlight the resilience and perseverance of the nation as one (“We”) in keeping “the flame alive.” Thus, the first verse of this song pays tribute to those who have endure the hard times (and thus is aligned to the Foundation and Values themes) through marked themes that foreground the contrast between the past and present. Note that “We” here also serves to implicitly hail the intended listener into the collective Singaporean identity.

Clauses (4) and (5) in verse two relates the listener to the present, where as a Singaporean, s/he is able to claim such a national identity with pride and recognition from others. What happens immediately in Clauses (6) and (7) indicates the next logical direction that “we” as Singaporeans should be heading towards after achieving needs that are lower in Maslow’s hierarchy
[3]; that of self-actualisation of one’s “hopes and dreams.” The predicated theme in (7), which conflates the Theme with the New information of “here” as exemplified by Halliday[4], signifies that such a reading is intended,[5] and that this is what is expected of the intended audience. The “here” can have different interpretations; one interpretation is that Singapore is the ideal place for the realisation of dreams and a better future, while another interpretation will be that “here” is the idealised future itself, and presupposes for the intended listener that s/he has the desire to be part of this idealised future.

The chorus is repeated twice, with a slight variation of the last line. In Clause (8), the collective “us,” being situated at the Theme position, is again directly addressed. The clause, being an imperative, indicates that the Material process should be undertaken. The nature of an imperative implies a command directed at the addressee who is usually omitted. However, by situating the addressee as the Theme, the forcefulness of the imperative is significantly modulated. In fact, such a framing of the clause hints at a communal activity that urges the intended reader to partake, and it lessens the coercion factor that is usually associated with imperatives. Clauses (9) and (10) have “wings” and “dreams” as their marked topic; it signifies that dreams are the “targets” that “we” have to achieve, hence assuming that no matter what dreams an individual has, it is possible to attain them if they are utilised as a source of motivation, and that all of us possess abilities (“wings”) that can enable us to accomplish our dreams in one way or another. Clause (11), which is the last line when the chorus is sang the first time, further indicates that the final result of achieving “our” dreams is shared among and common for “us”. After repeating Clauses (8) to (10), Clause (12) serves to sum up the collective actions outlined in the chorus that “we” have to undertake.

Verse three presents a shift in perspective from the macro to the micro in this pursuit for the future. The individual is addressed here, and the intended listener is assumed to take up the “I” subject position. Furthermore, the Mental process in clause (14) addressing one’s dreams and represents the cognitive consciousness on the individual’s part. This is not unusual in the sense that during National Day celebrations or even the National Day Parade itself, the audiences are expected to sing along with the music; through singing, the individual hails his/her personal self into the context of the song. Following this, clause (15) indicates a relational identifying intensive process. The marked theme here (“The future”) draws anaphoric reference from “my dreams” in the previous clause; however this “future” is not strictly defined as belonging to “I”, but appeals to a rather general, mutual future that everyone else will be working towards. The referencing of “future” with “dreams” also implies that the future will be optimistic, as compared to “nightmares.” After thinking about dreams and relating it to a common future, the intended listener is led to a decision-making process. The marked Theme, “the time”, in clause (16), coupled with accompanying relational identifying process, covertly signals the intended reader that the timing is now appropriate for “me” to take concrete actions stated in clauses (17) and (18). Such emphasis on the present time as being appropriate sets up the reader in such a way that s/he is made aware of the expectance to act accordingly.

The perspective in verse four is shifted again back to the collective “we”. Here, the whole verse makes up clause (19), and we see that the theme is again marked. Each line within the theme contributes a layer of meaning to the marked theme. For example, the lines “With hopes within our hearts” and “as one hand in hand” are Circumstantial Adjuncts that imply the manner and means in which the Material process in the Rheme is to be carried out: “We” are to use these shared aims and aspirations (“hopes”) which are close to our hearts and seek to realise them together as a unified nation. The next line, which is also a Circumstantial Adjunct, cues in the importance of human kinship and friendship – “we” are going to accomplish what “we” want to do because of “our” obligation to “our” loved ones. By forecasting these reasons in the Thematic position, the intended listener is compelled to pay attention to and be convinced by them. Hence, the Theme itself provides three different but potent and persuasive reasons that evoke someone of feelings towards self, community and society, and one has not much choice but to accept the proposition. As for the Rheme, we have an imperative that is similar to clause (8). What is slightly different is that, although it is a Material process, the Range (“the best”) is not a concrete entity that can be acted or effected upon. The ambiguity here gives the intended listener a certain amount of agency; s/he is free to interpret what is the meant here by “the best”, as long as s/he feels that it is the best that can be done. The ambiguity here also further negates the impact of the imperative on the listener, and hence, enabling the proposition made to be more readily accepted as discussed earlier.

On the whole, the song consists of predominantly Material processes. Yet some of these are not Material processes in the strictest sense. One example was the process in the Rheme of clause (19), where the Range is something that is intangible. Other alternative Material processes present are those which are metaphorical. Clauses (3), (6), (8) and (9), as well as (11), (12), (13) and (20) are such processes. These processes can link material processes with abstract entities as we have seen in clause (19), as well as what is penned in clauses (3), (6) and (11). Alternatively, the song also uses some material processes such as “soar” and “reach out” to refer to actions that we, as humans, cannot possibly achieve without the aid of technology. Such metaphoric use of processes can be seen as ambiguous, and thus allowing the intended listener the freedom to interpret according to what s/he wants. However, it also illustrates that the songwriter, in using metaphoric devices, is attempting to obscure the reader and not presenting the reader with the whole truth of the bigger picture. The fact that the songwriters often make use of such devices to create certain linguistic effects in their songs makes it even more ideological, considering that in at the end of the day, it is often the singer and not the songwriter who gets the credit/discredit if the song is successful or not, and thus, the songwriter is backgrounded away from our sight.

Relating PM Lee’s 2004 speech

Now I shall relate the song back to the PM’s speech. In the earlier analysis of verse one, we saw that it was paying tribute to the older generation for all their hard work which has brought Singapore to where it is now. Indeed, in section VIII of his speech, PM Lee devoted a few paragraphs to talk about older Singaporeans. However, this theme is not featured strongly throughout his speech. In fact, the first section of his speech, which PM Lee devoted in delivering a tribute to his predecessor, seems to be particularly relevant to this theme that is characteristic of verse one. PM Lee talked about the many questions which were in the minds of everyone when former PM Goh Chok Tong succeeded the very first PM, Lee Kuan Yew, which seemed to be mirrored by the second line of verse one (‘the journey seemed unsure.). PM Lee then went on to see how his predecessor managed to dispel “all this uncertainty” and brought Singapore further forward. Thus, it seems that line three of the first verse echoes this part of the speech, where we see that the change of leadership was greeted with apprehension and doubt, but eventually these were resolved and dispelled and the “flame” is being kept alive. While this reading of verse one may not be one that is predominant among the intended listeners in general, the relevance of itself with regards to the speech is paralleled as depicted above

I shall relate the rest of the song to his twelfth and last section of his speech, titled “Our future is bright.” In this section, PM Lee talked at length about Singapore’s progresses and advantages over other countries; overseas ventures that had turned out to be successes, attracting foreign talent, creating new jobs in new areas like creative industries, and even Singapore’s involvement in well-known movie productions like “Matrix: Reloaded.” The many opportunities that are provided here, he explained in the beginning of this section, makes Singapore “the most dynamic region in the world,” and that “There is no other place where we would prefer to be.” The songwriter has woven this aspect of his speech into clauses (6) and (7) by describing Singapore as the place that “we” will want to be constructing and fulfil our hopes and dreams. Coincidentally, this image of hopes and dreams is also mentioned by PM Lee, in Paragraph 157 (“high hopes and big dreams”). Though the exact phrase is not being replicated in the song, the meanings of “high” and “big” are realised in other parts of the song. The chorus urged intended listeners to “reach out for the skies” and to “soar up high”, and this metaphoric extension of achieving our hopes and dreams implies of the magnitude and scale of our dreams, when it is implicitly understood that it is literally not possible to do as what the chorus had “instructed” us to do. In order to do this, the songwriter described us as having wings in order to soar up high; again, this can be related back to the speech, especially in Paragraph 95, where PM Lee talked about giving the young generation “wings” to mould and groom them. Since PM Lee had been focussing on the new generation of Singaporeans in his speech, and “wings” here are attributed to the young in particular, therefore, it seems here that the intended listener may not just be any ordinary Singaporean, but particularly to the younger generation. Furthermore, it is precisely the younger generation who have to be reminded of Singapore’s history, since they will not have experienced the kind of hardship that the older generation had gone through.
“Reach out for the skies” can be seen as different from the National Day songs back in the 1990s and 1980s, where the emphasis is on building a strong collective Singaporean identity and a unified, harmonious nation; it presupposes that such an identity has already been solidified and cemented among Singaporeans and hence does not addresses this issues as a primary concern. What is more significant is that it reflects not only Singapore at a crossroad in terms of the economic and social atmosphere of Singapore; it reflects the political transition that had recently taken place not too long ago as well, where the handover of leadership to PM Lee marked a new generation of political leadership. PM Lee’s speech itself did not really touch on issues such as racial harmony and creating unique identity amongst Singaporeans; relationships are instead, presupposed. Hence, we can see that the lyrics to the song are modelled after the speech in terms of this main presupposition, in a sense that this collective “we” in the song is implicit and listeners are expected to know that they are being addressed as such.


To conclude, we have seen that political rhetoric can manifest itself in popular media through the use of songs as a propaganda tool. Ideological messages can be woven and thus reproduced into the lyrics of such songs, and perpetuated when they are being played regularly and listeners are exposed to them. I believe there is the potential that a semiotic analysis of the video as well as the music itself will uncover more ideologies as well as strengthen those already found here.


Eggins, Suzanne (1994) An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics, London: Continuum

Halliday, M A K (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar (3rd Ed.), London: Arnold

Lee, Hsien Loong (2004) National Day Rally 2004 Speech (from - date accessed: 24th October 2005)

Appendix A
Reach Out For the Skies
Composed by: Elaine ChanLyrics by: Selena Tan Arranged by: Joshua Wan

At a time when hope was low The journey seems unsure But through it all We’ve kept the flame alive
Now standing proud and tall Our spirit strong and free Building on hopes and dreams It’s here we want to be

Let’s reach out for the skies With wings we soar up high Our dreams we’ll all achieve We’ll make our destiny
Let’s reach out for the skies With wings we soar up high Our dreams we’ll all achieve Let’s soar and reach for the skies

When I think about my dreams The future it can be The time has come for me To strive and to achieve
With hopes within our hearts As one hand in hand For family and our friends Let’s do the best we can

Let’s reach out for the skies With wings we soar up high Our dreams we’ll all achieve We’ll make our destiny
Let’s reach out for the skies With wings we soar up high Our dreams we’ll all achieve Let’s soar and reach for the skies

Our dreams we’ll all achieve Let’s soar and reach for the skies
We can touch the skies

Appendix B

I Tribute to Goh Chok Tong

1 Friends and fellow Singaporeans, I've known Mr Goh Chok Tong for a very long time, more than 25 years. We first met in 1978. It was not long after he entered politics. We met socially and I remember he was explaining to me how he was consciously staying away from making speeches on shipping matters because he was from NOL (Neptune Orient Lines) and he wanted to broaden out and talk about other subjects. Soon after I met him, I went away to the US to study. When I was away, I needed to make a presentation on Singapore – Know Your World – and wanted something to show the Americans what Singapore was like. So, I asked Mr Goh and he sent me some slides of activities in Marine Parade, a kite-flying competition, something you won't find in America and it added something to letting the Americans know us. I came back from America after two years in the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces). He was my minister. I would brief him regularly. Then I entered Cabinet and he was a colleague and then, he was the Prime Minister.

2 When Mr Goh took over from Mr Lee Kuan Yew as PM, many people wondered how he would work out because Singapore had had only one PM ever since it was independent, in fact, ever since before it was independent. What would the new PM be like? Would he be his own man? What mark would he put on Singapore ? All this uncertainty was soon dispelled. Chok Tong established his own style, milder, gentler, consultative and inclusive, but firm and clear. He built his own team. He retained key members from his own generation to help with the transition. He brought in new and younger ministers and he got good men and women to work with him and formed a strong team. And I'd just like to mention two of the people who kept on and stayed with him. One is Mr Dhanabalan, who had actually gone into the private sector after the transition was completed and came back in again when I was ill with lymphoma in 1992 and took over from me in MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) and looked after MTI for one year, one crucial year, and helped out at a very difficult time. And the other one is Dr Tony Tan, who also went out after the transition into the private sector, but came back in 1995 because Chok Tong asked him to help run Mindef (Ministry of Defence) for two years. And he stayed for nine years and now, he's staying for another year to help me out with my transition. So, I owe them a thank you.

3 Chok Tong launched new policies to take Singapore forward. Some were popular policies, like Edusave and Medifund. Everybody liked them. Some were difficult but necessary policies. We had to cut the CPF (Central Provident Fund), we had to raise the GST (Goods and Services Tax), not popular, but we had to do it and Chok Tong sold these policies and persuaded people to do it. Many things were in foreign policy. He travelled, he made friends with foreign leaders, he established contacts, gained their respect and made use of these links for our advantage, for example, establishing many free trade agreements with important trading partners and I should just mention one, the US free trade agreement because that one was born on a golf course. One evening after dinner, he persuaded Bill Clinton to play golf in Bandar Seri Begawan at night and over 18 holes, a free trade agreement was born. So, that means he's telling me I should play golf.

4 Chok Tong established his own connection with Singaporeans, not high-flown oratory, but sincere, direct, personal. He made people feel comfortable and listened to. He persuaded people to accept tough decisions. He explained highly-sensitive issues and defused them and so, when we had dialogues discussing very difficult things, I was always very comfortable sitting next to him because I knew that no matter how difficult the subject, how awkward the question, how uncomfortable the audience, he would be able, with a soft turn of word, with a joke, with a nice question back, to put the audience at ease and get his point across. And that's why when you see the pictures of me sitting next to him on a dialogue, I'm always smiling. But following him on the National Day Rally all by myself here, well, that's a different show altogether. But Chok Tong won the support of voters and the respect and the affection of Singaporeans and brought us all closer together as one people and, for that, I think we all thank Chok Tong.


III Singapore at a crossroad

8 It's a unique challenge leading Singapore now, in 2004, because Singapore is at a crossroad. It's a different world out there. It's a post-Cold War world. What does that mean? It means there's one hyperpower, the United States . There's no two superpowers, it's not a multipolar world, it's one hyperpower. China is rising, India is opening up, Southeast Asia is also growing in transition, but reasonably optimistic overall. And one major reality out there is the war on terrorism which is going to continue for a long time to come.

9 In Singapore , this is not just a change of the PMs. It's a generational change to the post-independence generation. It's a different generation of Singaporeans, different from the group which fought for independence, different from the group who grew up with independence in the immediate post-independence years who experienced the transformation, saw how Singapore changed, saw the effort and the passion which went into building Singapore, which went into achieving what we have and wanted to pick up and run and carry on with the job. Now, it's a new generation and it's got to take Singapore another step forward, another level higher.


95 Well, there is a spectrum. Not all are engaged. I read, I think in Today that they went along Orchard Road and asked who's the PM and some people didn't know. What to do? And there are some who have difficult backgrounds and lack opportunities. But by and large, we have groomed a strong generation ready for the future. And we have to groom this generation, to give them wings and to give them roots. We need to give them wings, expose them to the world, build their character, let them set their own goals and choices, let them learn from their own mistakes, let them grow and blossom and be themselves. Guide them, but don't constrain them. But we also have to give them roots, emotional experiences which will bind them here, playing together with each other, roughing it out, taking challenges together because then, they will create friendships, they will create ties, they will have memories and bonds to their friends and to the places where they made these friends. So, even with wings, they will fly all over the world but come back and be a Singaporean in Singapore . And so, I renamed MCDS to become MCYS, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, and I appointed Vivian as the Minister. He is the youngest in the Cabinet and I think that they will be able to spark off something to engage the young people to get them enthused in this project of Singapore . A lot of this has to do with education, which I will talk about later on.

96 One critical aspect of rooting Singaporeans here is to empower them, to give them a say in their lives, to make them feel that they can make a difference. If you are in China or in America , you can't do that. One person out of 1.3 billion, can you change China ? How many can become like Deng Xiaoping? If you were one person out of nearly 300 million in America , can you become the President and change America ? How many people can go on stage and say, "I am John Kerry, I am reporting for duty"? But in Singapore , you can and you must.


XII Our future is bright

145 We are now in Singapore in a region where opportunities abound. It's the most dynamic region in the world. There is no other place where we would prefer to be.

146 You want to be in Latin America , you have your problems. You want to be in Africa , God help you. But in Southeast Asia and Asia , for all the problems, for all the uncertainties and risks, I think this is a dynamic, exciting, challenging part of the world. Companies in Singapore are benefiting from this. Our local companies are doing well. You look at Mustafa’s, the amount of TV sets and things it sells going to India , and it's expanding. And the multinationals are doing well in Singapore , too. The wafer fabs are doing well. One of them told me a few months ago, he's got a plant in Ang Mo Kio, he says, "Your Ang Mo Kio plant produces five times as many wafers, discs as all their plants in the whole of Europe ". I was very happy because Ang Mo Kio means Ang Mo Kio GRC, but they are doing well and they are exporting and they are creating jobs for our people.

147 Our Singapore businesses are going abroad, too. All kinds of businesses are operating around in the immediate region. We've got manufacturing, logistics, real estate, hotels. Our household names are in Malaysia and Indonesia . You want to go to KL, you can get Crystal Jade, or you want to go Indonesia , Jakarta , you can get Crystal Jade, Tung Lok, BreadTalk. In fact, there is a BreadTalk in Shanghai , I opened it, as well as a KopiTiam. You want to go to KL, there's a Zouk (disco), it's quite funky, and many other projects like that.

148 Our economy is thriving and competitive. We are getting new investments coming in, we are getting investments choosing Singapore over India , over China . So, we look at them as competitors, but I think we know that we are able to hold our own and because of our workforce, because of our quality, because of our policies and government, people are prepared to come, invest in Singapore and create jobs and prosperity for us. Not just multinationals. Even Chinese and Indian companies are coming here. So, we've got 1,400 Indian companies, 1,200 Chinese companies in Singapore and EDB is quite confident. They are going full-steam ahead, bringing in new investments and we are quite confident that in 15 years, they can double our manufacturing output. And if EDB tells me that then I think they must have added, they must have kept back a small percentage for themselves. So, I think they will make the target.

149 And we are having jobs, not just manufacturing jobs, but also in services. Banking is hotting up and because we have private banking and asset management and we have become a financial centre because we opened up, there are many jobs where we don't have the skilled people. Tourism – whether or not we have a casino, I think we will grow it. Transport – SIA and PSA have downsized, but as they grow, after they have restructured, I think they will need staff again over time. And we are getting new sorts of industries, creative industries. You may have seen recently George Yeo opening, at the launch of a project, Lucasfilm. Lucasfilm are the people who made Star Wars with the swords and they're coming here, they're going to produce films, TV serials, games that blend East and West. And it means new jobs, exciting opportunities to create unique entertainment. And they’re very good jobs, jobs which require art, which require technology, IT, mathematics, business, jobs which our people are good at.

150 If you want to be an animator, a cartoonist, you want to draw a storyline, you want to create special effects, you need brains as well as talent. I visited Weta Works in Wellington in New Zealand last year. They made Lord of the Rings, or they supported the people who made Lord of the Rings and we have some Singaporeans on attachment there, learning the craft. I was very impressed with them. They've got the skills. It's very interesting. In the old days, you draw cartoons one by one, then you colour, then you draw the next one, then you flip over. Now, it's all on a computer. You have a model. So, you have a model of a puppet on a computer, or rather the puppet is the model. So, normally, with a puppet, you hold the strings. Here, with the puppet, you use your mouse, you slide the cursor, the puppet can raise his eyebrows, stick out his tongue, make a face at you or get angry and so, you can give a personality to the puppet. And our people have those creative skills and our polytechnics and our ITEs, it's not just the universities. Nanyang Polytechnic is producing good people who will be in demand for creative industries and we're talking about hundreds initially, later on maybe thousands, but it will make a contribution with good jobs for Singaporeans.

151 The young ones here will remember and know what is Matrix: Reloaded. It's a movie. I haven't seen it, but I know about it and it's a movie with special effects and you may remember that last year, they were showing it. The smoke and explosions were done by a Singaporean called Nickson Fong. It's a very specialised business. He was a NAFA graduate. He went to Hollywood , he did all this and he was overseas. I met him last year when he came back and he said, "Well, one day, maybe I will come back, but right now the opportunity is not right, the opportunities are overseas". So, he went to Taiwan , he started something. But last week, he emailed me, he says, "I'm now back in Singapore", with pregnant wife, new baby, came back to Singapore to get born and he's setting up a company, Egg Story Creative Production so as to do this creative technology, IT film production work. So, I think that there are opportunities and if I may borrow a young word, I think "The Force is with Singapore ".

152 We are building something unique and precious here. In a world full of strife, we have many races living in harmony. In a region where corruption is everywhere, we have a clean and meritocratic system. We invest in our young to help each one to find his strengths and realise his aspirations. We offer special opportunities to all to do well and also to contribute to Singapore and we spread widely the benefits of progress so that everybody benefits when the country does well. And we are strengthening our national identity day by day. It's not yet a very long history, but year by year, with each crisis, with each joy and each sorrow, we build on it. So, when there is Sars, we bonded, when there's an economic crisis, we shared it, employers, workers, the Government. When we have tragedies like RSS Courageous or the Nicoll Highway collapse, ordinary people rose to the occasion to become heroes of the nation and for those who lost their lives, their memories are etched permanently in our collective memory.

153 It's what the Chinese say, “歌于斯, 哭于斯, 聚国族于斯” – you weep here, you rejoice here, you gather your clan here. It's not a perfect society. None is. But it's a society where if we have a problem, we can discuss it, we can find some way to resolve it, we can tackle it and if something is wrong, we will put it right. And so, over time, we will make progress. I think we have reason to be confident of our future. Very often, we ask ourselves, how are we going to fix these problems? Whither Singapore ? We worry about our weaknesses and, indeed, we've got to tackle the problems which we have. But while we fix our weaknesses, we should not forget our strengths, and they are considerable, and others admire them and are trying to emulate them.

154 We are making friends with the Vietnamese. They are very keen to link up with us. We have a connectivity proposal. They want to learn from us. They want to learn from our experience, Temasek Holdings and its GLCs (Government-linked companies), the central bank, MAS, how we run the government, how we can open up and keep an orderly society. The Chinese, the cities and the provinces are very keen to learn from us. When first, we went into Suzhou , they were not interested in software. Now, they say, "The Singapore model, what can we do with it? How can we benefit from this not just in Suzhou but in other cities and other provinces?".

155 In India , our standing is high. In January, I went to Bangalore . IT is booming away, they’ve a lot of problems but also great confidence. So, I visited an IT company. They asked me to talk to their crowd. So, they gathered everybody on the rooftop. I went up, gave a five-minute speech, practising for the National Day Rally. Just five minutes. So, I said, "The region is opening up, opportunities are there, India is opening up. Southeast Asia , Singapore , we offer you opportunities, the world is your oyster". They nearly gave me a standing ovation. So, if they can be confident of learning from us, there is no reason for us to doubt our ability to stay ahead of them and to keep on moving forward. And the key is to commit ourselves to the task, heart and soul, which is what our athletes in Athens have been doing.

156 You've been watching the Games. I think you were watching table tennis before we started this evening. Ronald Susilo did well earlier. He beat the World No 1, then he lost in the quarter-finals. Li Jiawei beat the World No 2 in table tennis, but eventually, she lost and finished fourth. I spoke to Jiawei just now after her game. She was a bit down, of course. So, she said, "Well, I am in the top four. Very sad". I said, "There's no reason to be sad. We are proud of you. You've done us well. Yes, you've not got the top prize, but we will keep on trying. We will keep on trying. Sports isn't just medals. It's doing our best, trying, trying again, overcoming setbacks, depending on each other, being part of Team Singapore ". And many of our athletes have made Singapore their home and they've become part of our family and we should welcome them and celebrate them.

157 We may be small, but we have high hopes and big dreams and so long as we are a little red dot in the middle of Southeast Asia , let people know that we are a people who will keep on trying and never say die. And with this spirit, the future is ours to make.

158 What do we see as a vision for Singapore ? I think this will always be work-in-progress because we will never be satisfied. We always want to move on, do better. But I think ours should be a future of opportunity and promise. We should have a prospering economy, creating good jobs for all and having opportunities for our people to venture and to create new businesses and new openings and new possibilities for ourselves. We should have an honest and capable government with leaders whom Singaporeans trust and can rely on. We should have an open society which is welcoming of talent, which welcomes diverse views, is yet cohesive and has a sense of common purpose. And we should be a community where every citizen counts, where everyone can develop his human potential to the full and everyone participates in building and repairing and upgrading this shared home which is Singapore . So, we have a lot going for us. Let's all work together to realise our dreams and to make this bright future for our people and for Singapore .

159 Thank you very much, indeed.
[1] National Day Rally speech 2004
[2] Para 157
[3] From Wikipedia, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (
[4] Halliday (2004: 96)
[5] Ibid.

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