What I learnt from the National Day Rally 2016

Three takeaways from the National Day Rally.

Anna Fernandez

Published: 23 August 2016, 2:07 AM

Sitting through a two-hour speech was not how I envisioned spending my Sunday evening.

As I settled in and prepared for a long and eventful night, I tried my best to focus on the content of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s English speech (and not his sartorial choices).

Here are the three takeaways I got from the National Day Rally.

1. Terrorism. Terrorism. Terrorism.

We all know about the recent foiled rocket launch from Batam to Marina Bay Sands by Indonesian terror suspects. It showed us that Singapore is far from being immune to the threat of terrorism.

As more terrorist attacks occur all over the world, I couldn’t help but wonder if it’s less a matter of if, and more a matter of when these threats will manifest on our shores.

When PM Lee emphasised the terrorism threat is not just an external one, but a domestic problem as well, it really got me thinking about what would happen if an attack were to take place here.

Would we really be prepared if the perpetrator was one of our own? Would our social fabric collapse due to the multi-cultural nature of our nation? Or, would we unite despite our differences and overcome the aftermath of the terror attacks that come our way?


Are we really ready for a terrorist attack on our shores?


 recently wrote about terrorism – that piece ended by calling for Singaporeans to be educated on how to manage a crisis. That looks likely to happen now with SG Secure, a new national programme that will prepare Singaporeans to better protect themselves against attacks.

2. Our leaders are seriously dedicated

Midway through his English speech, Singaporeans let out a collective gasp when PM Lee, who appeared unwell, stumbled briefly.

An hour and 20 minutes after his speech was suspended, PM Lee re-emerged like a true champ to a standing ovation. He continued his speech for another 15 minutes, even more vibrant and cheerful than before.


PM Lee delivering his national day speech PHOTO CREDIT: FACEBOOK/PM LEE HSIEN LOONG


PM Lee said that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will be returning to his duties after a “miracle” recovery earlier this year, more than three months after he suffered a stroke during a Cabinet meeting.

Does this make you think twice about taking an MC to skip school or work?

3. The timely reminder about leadership succession

Another takeaway, which PM Lee himself mentioned, was the importance of leadership succession. He even joked about it after his sudden bout of fatigue, referencing the scare he gave everyone.

It was a timely reminder that the leaders of our nation are mere mortals, and how important it is for the next generation of politicians to step up to the plate – preferably sooner rather than later.

As I listened to the PM’s impassioned speech, some concerns ran through my mind.

What would happen if our next leaders are not caught up with all of their respective duties in time? With so much experience under PM Lee’s belt (he has been our Prime Minister since 2004!), will the passing of the torch be smooth, or will it cause total chaos?

And, can a younger leader make a difference?


What can we expect Singapore to be like for our young?


With the recent passing of our former president S R Nathan, I guess only time will tell.

No matter how much of an emotional rollercoaster the National Day Rally was this year, it somehow seemed to raise more questions rather than answers.

What are your thoughts on the rally?

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