Singapore’s Lee Asks Citizens to ‘Press On’ at 50th National Day

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told citizens to “press on” in his National Day message on Saturday, as the nation tackles slowing economic growth, an aging population and a looming election.

Lee, 63, also quoted his late father Lee Kuan Yew, the city-state’s first prime minister, who built the country by pushing people to set aside racial and religious differences. The only developed nation in Southeast Asia will celebrate its 50th year of independence on Sunday.

“From this base camp, we can also look forward to new peaks ahead,” Lee said in his televised speech. “The journey ahead is uncharted. But we must press on.”

The premier is trying to transform the island into a global center for research and innovation as he seeks new drivers of growth. The city-state is in the midst of a 10-year economic restructuring plan that includes reducing reliance on cheap foreign labor and boosting productivity.

Lee’s ruling People’s Action Party -- formed by the elder Lee, who died in March -- is gearing up for an election that’s expected to be called soon. The PAP has moved in recent years to shore up its support among voters with greater spending on lower-income families and the elderly to offset higher living costs, after losing some districts in the previous 2011 ballot.