SPEECH BY PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG AT THE PIONEER GENERATION TRIBUTE, 9 FEBRUARY 2014

1. Happy Chinese New Year!

2. Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence next year

a. Significant milestone
i. Time to celebrate
ii. Also to rededicate ourselves to building a better Singapore

b. Hence SG50 campaign, to engage all Singaporeans on this endeavour

c. Today’s Party is the first SG50 event

3. Singapore has come a long way

a. A remarkable journey

b. No one could have imagined this in 1965

c. Work of more than one generation – each standing on shoulders of the one before

4. But the Pioneer Generation who started us on this journey is special

a. Many had migrated to Singapore from other lands, to start a new life here

b. Took part in the excitement and drama of the anti‐colonial struggle, the battle against the Communists, and the fight against the
communalists which led to Separation from Malaysia and independence

c. Despite difficult times and the real danger of failure, you persevered, put Singapore first, and worked together to build our nation

d. Started Singapore on a path of development, which has transformed the lives of the whole population

e. Raised new generations of Singaporeans, and taught us the values and spirit that enabled us to succeed

5. Therefore as we approach Singapore’s 50th birthday, fitting that we honour the Pioneer Generation

a. Many of you here today belong to this group

6. On behalf of all Singaporeans, I thank you and your generation for all that you have done

a. Tribute Party is a modest gesture
i. There are several hundred thousand members of the Pioneer Generation alive
ii. Not possible to invite all today
iii. But the members here are representative of the many more

b. You have contributed in many ways, big and small, e.g.
i. As mothers and housewives, bringing up new generations of Singaporeans
ii. As farmers and samsui women, traders and factory workers, putting food on the table and keeping Singapore going
iii. As members of the Volunteer Corps protecting Singapore during Konfrontasi, or of the Vigilante Corps keeping the streets   
safe from saboteurs
iv. As our earliest regulars and national servicemen, building up our SAF and Home Team
v. As doctors, treating and caring for our sick, and as nurses, working alongside them, going to villages to teach about nutrition,
hygiene and health, and to schools to screen and immunise our children
vi. As teachers, setting up new schools to nurture our young
vii. As young officers in PWD, HDB and PUB, building our public infrastructure
viii. As grassroots volunteers, unionists and political leaders, rallying Singaporeans around our common cause

c. Through you, we honour and thank all those in the Pioneer Generation
  i. Over the next year, we will hold other events to honour different groups belonging to the Pioneer Generation

d. Unfortunately over the last 50 years some of the Pioneer Generation have left us
i. Cannot thank them in person
ii. But we take heart that they have seen Singapore transform into a better home for their children
iii. We will never forget their contributions to Singapore

7. At NDR last year, I said we would put together a package of benefits for every member of the Pioneer Generation still living

a. We have thought carefully and consulted widely about what would be meaningful and helpful to you

b. Know healthcare is at the top of the minds of older Singaporeans

c. The Pioneer Generation Package will therefore focus on healthcare benefits

8. We have comprehensive schemes to take care of every Singaporean’s healthcare needs

a. e.g. Government subsidies, 3Ms

b. We are reviewing and improving these schemes, e.g. upgrading MediShield to become MediShield‐Life, to give all our citizens peace of mind on this important issue

c. But we will do more for the Pioneer Generation, to honour you, to make medical care always affordable for you

9. Our Package will give extra financial support in three important areas:

a. MediShield‐Life
i. MediShield‐Life Review Committee still working out premiums and benefits
ii. The premiums will be affordable for all
iii. On top of that, for the Pioneer Generation, we will provide extra government support
iv. So the Pioneer Generation enjoys the enhanced benefits of MediShield Life and pays less premiums than for MediShield today

b. Outpatient treatment
i. Besides hospital care, we will also help you with your outpatient bills
ii. We already subsidise polyclinics and SOCs significantly
iii. We will provide extra subsidies at polyclinics, SOCs and GP clinics under CHAS for the Pioneer Generation, on top of the other
subsidies which all citizens are eligible for

c. Medisave
i. A key component in our healthcare financing system
ii. Many in the Pioneer Generation do not have much in your Medisave accounts, because Medisave had not been introduced
when you were working, and because your wages and Medisave contributions were lower then
iii. We will provide additional annual top ups to your Medisave accounts, to help you with your medical needs, and your family as 
well
iv. The top‐ups can also help you pay for Medishield Life premiums

10. These three areas of support will provide more assurance in your golden years

a. We will provide these benefits to you for life

b. Everyone in the Pioneer Generation will benefit from this package, with more for those who are older

c. It will not only reduce your medical expenses

d. But also enable you to save more for your other needs

e. And reduce the burden on your children too

f. DPM Tharman will announce the details of this Package during the Budget

11. This is a special package for a special generation

a. No matter how we design the package, it can never fully reflect the contributions our pioneers have made to our nation

b. But I hope you will accept it as a sincere expression of our gratitude, and that it will be of help to you and your families

12. How do we define the Pioneer Generation, those who qualify for the Package?

a. Target group: First generation of Singaporeans, who were
i. Living and working in Singapore after we became independent
ii. Either citizens when we became independent, or became citizens in the early years of our republic

b. Specific definition:
i. Those who will be 65 years or older by the end of this year, i.e. were about 16 years or older at Independence
       (1) Because in the 1960s people often started working in their late teens
       (2) This will therefore also include our first batch of national servicemen, who were called up in 1967
ii. We should also include those who became citizens in the early years after 1965
       (1) For practical reasons, we will include all who became citizens before 1987 
       (2) Because our manual records before 1987 are incomplete

c. On this definition, we estimate that there are 450,000 people in the Pioneer Generation

13. There are other older Singaporeans who do not meet the criteria for the Pioneer Generation

a. We will continue to take care of you in many other ways, and enable you to look after yourself and your families, as we do all Singaporeans

b. Encourage all Singaporeans to honour our seniors, each in our own fashion

CONCLUSION


14. Biggest tribute we can pay to the Pioneer Generation is to build on your legacy

a. You have been tested by crises and proven your resolve
b. It is now our generation’s task to carry on what you began
c. To stay true to your pioneering spirit – self‐reliant, never‐say‐die and united in purpose
d. Rededicate ourselves to building our nation
e. Take Singapore to greater heights
f. So that we can together achieve another 50 years of progress, and celebrate our 100th birthday with pride

15. Thank you for being here today, and thank you again for your great contributions to Singapore
. . . . .

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