Singapore National Day Rally
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The National Day Rally (Chinese: 国庆群众大会, Malay: Rapat Umum Hari Kebangsaan) is an annual address that the Prime Minister of Singapore makes to the entire nation, on the first or second Sunday after National Day on 9 August. A yearly event since 1966, the Prime Minister uses the rally to address the nation on its key challenges and announce major policy changes, and is comparable to the State of the Union address delivered by the President of the United States.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1966 National Day Rally
- 1.2 1971 National Day Rally
- 1.3 1981 National Day Rally
- 1.4 1983 National Day Rally
- 1.5 1988 National Day Rally
- 1.6 1991 National Day Rally
- 1.7 2002 National Day Rally
- 1.8 2004 National Day Rally
- 1.9 2005 National Day Rally
- 1.10 2007 National Day Rally
- 1.11 2008 National Day Rally
- 1.12 2009 National Day Rally
- 1.13 2010 National Day Rally
- 1.14 2012 National Day Rally
- 1.15 2013 National Day Rally
- 1.16 2015 National Day Rally
- 1.17 2016 National Day Rally
- 1.18 2017 National Day Rally
- 1.19 2018 National Day Rally
- 2 Format
- 3 List of rallies
- 4 Response
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The rally began in 1966 as a "private meeting" between the Prime Minister and community leaders. The transcript was released to the media only two weeks later. Only in 1971 did Lee Kuan Yew decide "at the last minute" to televise the speech, which has since been annually broadcast live.
The first rally in 1966 was held on the eve of National Day. Since 1967, the rally has been held at least a week after National Day.
The rally was delivered at the former National Theatre from 1966 to 1983. With the theatre's closure and demolishment in 1984, the rally was held at the Singapore Conference Hall for two years before being shifted to Kallang Theatre from 1986 to 2000. In 2001, the rally moved to the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore. Since 2013, Lee Hsien Loong has held his rally at the ITE Headquarters and ITE College Central.
1966 National Day Rally
The first National Day Rally was held on 8 August 1966 at the National Theatre. A closed-door meeting, Lee Kuan Yew told community leaders, "Every year, on this 9th August for many years ahead - how many, I do not know - we will dedicate ourselves anew to consolidate ourselves to survive; and, most important of all, to find an enduring future for what we have built and what our forebears will build up."
1971 National Day Rally
The 1971 rally was the first to be televised, at Lee Kuan Yew's "last minute" decision. Since then, the rally has become "a fixture on the political calendar".
Lee delivered his "cautiously optimistic" speech "off the cuff", remarking, "You have done well - six superb years, a magnificent performance against all the odds, so much so that everybody says, 'But, of course, everybody knows that Singapore is a very well-endowed place...Oh, just natural course of events.' It wasn't, you know. We made it so..."
1981 National Day Rally
1983 National Day Rally
At the 1983 rally, Lee Kuan Yew "trotted out facts and figures to show that the more highly educated a woman was, the less likely she was to reproduce", before concluding, "[W]e are really discarding our able parents in the next generation and doubling the less able." The resulting controversy eroded electoral support for his People's Action Party for several years.
1988 National Day Rally
In 1988, Lee Kuan Yew delivered "one of his most quoted lines": "And even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave, and I feel that something is going wrong, I'll get up."
1991 National Day Rally
In 1991, Goh Chok Tong delivered his maiden speech at the National Day Rally. He "spoke with a self-deprecating humour that heralded a new, gentler style of governance", which he underscored by remarking, "I am not going to follow [Lee Kuan Yew's] act. I am going to walk my own way."
2002 National Day Rally
At the 2002 rally, Goh Chok Tong remarked, "Fair-weather Singaporeans will run away whenever the country runs into stormy weather. I call them 'quitters'. Fortunately, 'quitters' are in the minority. The majority of Singaporeans are 'stayers'...As we say in Hokkien, 'pah see buay zao'." His labels generated "much discussion".
2004 National Day Rally
In 2004, Lee Hsien Loong made his maiden address at the National Day Rally. However, rather than deliver a "cautious speech", he "surprised many by slaughtering a few sacred cows". He promoted a new "teach less, learn more" education policy, introduced a shortened five-day work week for the Civil Service, and, most controversially, mooted the idea of casinos in Singapore. In 1970, Lee Kuan Yew's response to casinos in Singapore had been "no, not over my dead body", though the elder Lee had since changed his mind.
2005 National Day Rally
In 2005, Lee Hsien Loong adopted the current format of delivering his Malay and Chinese remarks at 6:45 pm, with a break at 7:30 pm, before commencing his English address at 8:00pm. Prior to 2005, the rally was a continuous speech from 8:00pm.
2007 National Day Rally
2008 National Day Rally
In 2008, the English language telecast of the rally, initially scheduled for live broadcast at 8pm on 17 August, was postponed to the next day. The move was to allow Singaporeans to watch Singapore take on China in the women's table tennis finals at the Beijing Olympics. The rally itself proceeded as usual at the University Cultural Centre, but was only broadcast the next day.
2009 National Day Rally
In 2009, Singaporeans used the Twitter hashtag #ndrsg to tweet about the rally.
2010 National Day Rally
The 2010 rally was held on the last Sunday of August to avoid clashing with the Youth Olympic Games earlier that month.
2012 National Day Rally
The 2012 rally marked the second time where Cabinet ministers delivered their speeches at 6.45pm, before the Prime Minister's remarks at 8pm. It was also the first to feature sign-language translation in real time. It was held on the last Sunday of August to facilitate Ramadan festivities.
2013 National Day Rally
The 2013 rally was the first to be held at the ITE Headquarters and ITE College Central after nine years at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre. Lee said the move was "for a serious purpose - to underscore my longstanding commitment to investing in…every Singaporean".
2015 National Day Rally
In his 2015 speech, "set within the context of...an impending general election", Lee Hsien Loong "asked for a strong mandate" without being "baldly partisan". Lee also mentioned two ministers, Vivian Balakrishnan and Lim Swee Say, who would respectively be standing in Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and East Coast GRC, the two most contested PAP-held constituencies.
2016 National Day Rally
An hour and 20 minutes into his English remarks at the 2016 rally, Lee Hsien Loong suddenly took ill at 9.20pm. Half an hour later, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that Lee would resume his speech. The Prime Minister's Office also said that Lee had felt "unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration", adding, "His heart is fine and he did not have a stroke." At 10.40pm, he returned to speak for another 15 minutes. By then, he looked well and thanked the audience for waiting for him, who gave him a standing ovation.
2017 National Day Rally
2018 National Day Rally
The 2018 rally was held at the ITE College Central on 19 August 2018, with the rally focused on trending issues such as housing, healthcare and cost of living. Lee introduced, among other policies, the Merdeka Generation Package (a spin-off from the Pioneer Generation Package), the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme and a revamped Home Improvement Programme. He also announced that Singapore would be seeking a second inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage List of her hawker culture, and that Senior Minister of State and Mayor Maliki Osman would be leading an improvement project for Geylang Serai.
The programme used to be aired as a single slot programme from 8 pm onwards. Since 2005, the rally is usually broadcast live from 6.45pm till 10pm (SST), with a break between 7.30pm and 8pm (the break was extended to 8.15 pm from 2017 onwards), across MediaCorp channels. However, most English rallies were over-run and most programmes on MediaCorp had postponed to the following week but some programmes were shown immediately after the English rally. Most programmes on MediaCorp would resume earlier at 9:30pm or later at 11:00pm if the rally over-ran the scheduled time.
Dubbing in English
Dubbing in Mandarin
Dubbing in Malay
|Dubbing in Tamil|
Channel NewsAsia (8pm-10pm)
|Radio||938LIVE||Capital 95.8FM||Warna 94.2FM||Oli 96.8FM|
|Online||Channel NewsAsia Live
From 2001 to 2004, the rally was also broadcast on the now-defunct SPH MediaWorks' channels.
Transcripts of the rally speech are usually available for viewing after the event at MediaCorp news portals, Singapore Press Holdings news portals, the website of the Prime Minister's Office and the online press centre of the Government of Singapore. Highlights of the speeches will usually be reported by Singapore newspapers in the following days.
List of rallies
|1966||8 August 1966 (Monday)||National Theatre||Lee Kuan Yew|
|1967||16 August 1967 (Wednesday)|
|1968||16 August 1968 (Friday)|
|1969||16 August 1969 (Saturday)|
|1970||16 August 1970 (Sunday)|
|1971||15 August 1971 (Sunday)|
|1972||13 August 1972 (Sunday)|
|1973||26 August 1973 (Sunday)|
|1974||18 August 1974 (Sunday)|
|1975||17 August 1975 (Sunday)|
|1976||15 August 1976 (Sunday)|
|1977||14 August 1977 (Sunday)|
|1978||13 August 1978 (Sunday)|
|1979||19 August 1979 (Sunday)|
|1980||17 August 1980 (Sunday)|
|1981||16 August 1981 (Sunday)|
|1982||15 August 1982 (Sunday)|
|1983||14 August 1983 (Sunday)|
|1984||19 August 1984 (Sunday)||Singapore Conference Hall|
|1985||18 August 1985 (Sunday)|
|1986||17 August 1986 (Sunday)||Kallang Theatre|
|1987||16 August 1987 (Sunday)|
|1988||14 August 1988 (Sunday)|
|1989||20 August 1989 (Sunday)|
|1990||26 August 1990 (Sunday)|
|1991||11 August 1991 (Sunday)||Goh Chok Tong||English|
|1992||16 August 1992 (Sunday)||English|
|1993||15 August 1993 (Sunday)||English|
|1994||21 August 1994 (Sunday)||English|
|1995||20 August 1995 (Sunday)||English|
|1996||18 August 1996 (Sunday)||English|
|1997||24 August 1997 (Sunday)||English|
|1998||23 August 1998 (Sunday)||English|
|1999||22 August 1999 (Sunday)||English|
|2000||20 August 2000 (Sunday)||English|
|2001||19 August 2001 (Sunday)||University Cultural Centre||English|
|2002||18 August 2002 (Sunday)||English|
|2003||17 August 2003 (Sunday)||English|
|2004||22 August 2004 (Sunday)||Lee Hsien Loong||English|
|2005||21 August 2005 (Sunday)||English|
|2006||20 August 2006 (Sunday)||English|
|2007||19 August 2007 (Sunday)||Malay · Chinese · English|
|2008||17 August 2008 (Sunday)||English|
|2009||16 August 2009 (Sunday)||English|
|2010||29 August 2010 (Sunday)||English|
|2011||14 August 2011 (Sunday)||English|
|2012||26 August 2012 (Sunday)||English|
|2013||18 August 2013 (Sunday)||ITE College Central||English|
|2014||17 August 2014 (Sunday)||Malay · Chinese · English|
|2015||23 August 2015 (Sunday)||Malay · Chinese · English|
|2016||21 August 2016 (Sunday)||Malay · Chinese · English (part 1 · part 2)|
|2017||20 August 2017 (Sunday)||Malay · Chinese · English|
|2018||19 August 2018 (Sunday)||Malay · Chinese · English|
An article titled "Singapore's National Day Rally Speech: A Site of Ideological Negotiation" analyses the inaugural National Day Rally speeches of three Singapore prime ministers. It locates these speeches in the continuous ideological work that the People's Action Party (PAP) government has to do to maintain consensus and forge new alliances among classes and social forces that are being transformed by globalisation. Increasingly, these speeches have had to deal with the contradictions between nation-building and the tensions between the liberal and reactionary tendencies of the global city.
According to Kenneth Paul Tan of the Lee Kuan Yew school of Public Policy: "The rally speech has also been a part of larger celebrations surrounding the commemoration of Singapore's independence gained on 9th August 1965. These celebrations have come to include a short and formal televised National Day message from the Prime Minister, observance ceremonies held at organizations in the public and private sectors, constituency dinners and ministerial speeches, regularly televised music videos of patriotic songs composed for the celebrations, and - most spectacular of all - a National Day parade that since the mid-1980s has included not only a traditional ceremonial segment , but also high-tech mass performances and re-enactments of the official "Singapore Story" that end on a climax of fireworks (Kong and Yeoh, 1997). Clearly the symbolic and formal aspects of the speech are just as important as its contents, taking Singaporeans collectively to an emotional high. This is especially so during general election years, when the prime minister announces the PAP's "report card" of achievements in government as well as the distribution of election "goodies" to the Singaporean masses - the lower income voters in particular - as a way of reinforcing the image of government as benevolent provider."
"As an annual injection of patriotism, the National Day celebrations help to inoculate Singaporeans against the disenchantment that accompanies advanced industrial societies, whether they are formally classified as capitalist or socialist, democratic or authoritarian. Singaporeans are reminded every year of the PAP's pioneer leaders - Lee Kuan yew and his "lieutenants" (Lam and Tan,1999) - who have been written into the official "Singapore Story" as the brave and far-sighted founders of contemporary Singapore (Loh,1998). Both volumes of Lee's own memoirs - tellingly titled the Singapore Story - have become central texts of the Singapore Story, supplemented by glossy publications such as the National Heritage Boards (1998) Singapore: Journey Into nationhood as well as other educational and information materials"
"The PAP knows that its authority will be secure as long as it remains able to make Singaporeans believe that it can continue to deliver material prosperity and security for all, regardless of race. Therefore, the PAP has had to reassert its relevance constantly by insisting on Singapore's fundamentally vulnerable nature and condition, an insistence that has sustained a culture of fear and arrested the risky global environment, the PAP also knows that the transactional basis on which its authority is built has become fragile and therefore needs to be strengthened by moral authority, what Burns (1978) has identified as a transformative mode of leadership, through which it can uplift, inspire and motivate in times of real crisis."
- Chew, Hui Min (20 August 2016). "From babies to casinos: 11 memorable National Day Rally speeches". The Straits Times.
- Tan, Martino (20 August 2016). "PM Lee mentions "Pokémon" in his National Day rally trailer". Mothership.sg.
- "PM Lee to deliver National Day Rally speech at ITE Headquarters and College Central". Channel NewsAsia. Mediacorp. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
- "National Day Rally - Speeches By Dr Tony Tan, Lim Chee Onn, Goh Chok Tong And Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew".
- "His decades in Parliament". The New Paper. 27 March 2015.
- Chong, Zi Liang (24 August 2015). "Opposition parties hold outreach events". The Straits Times. Singapore.
- "Broadcast of National Day Rally English speech postponed to Monday". Channel NewsAsia. Mediacorp. 16 August 2007.
- "Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally 2013 (English)". Prime Minister's Office.
- Koh, Gillian (24 August 2015). "[The Angle] The Politics of the NDR 2015 Speech". Institute of Policy Studies.
- hermes (2016-08-21). "Anxiety, then relief, as PM Lee Hsien Loong completes rally after taking ill". Retrieved 2016-08-22.
- "National Day Rally 2017: Six key takeaways".
- hermesauto (19 March 2018). "National Day Rally 2018 to be held on Aug 19".
- "National Day Rally 2018: The 8 things you need to know".
- "MediaCorp to broadcast PM Lee's Nat'l Day Rally Speech "live" Sunday". Channel NewsAsia. Mediacorp. Retrieved 14 August 2008.
- Tan, Kenneth Paul (August 2007). "Singapore's National Day Rally speech: A site of ideological negotiation". Journal of Contemporary Asia. Taylor and Francis. 37 (3): 292–308. doi:10.1080/00472330701408635. Also available online.
- Kong, Lily; Yeoh, Brenda S.A. (March 1997). "The construction of national identity through the production of ritual and spectacle". Political Geography. Elsevier. 16 (3): 213–239. doi:10.1016/0962-6298(95)00135-2.
- Er, Lam Peng; Tan, Kevin Yl, eds. (2000). Lee's lieutenants: Singapore's old guard. St. Leonards, NSW.: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 9781864486391.
- Loh, Kah Seng (May 2011). "'No more road to walk': cultures of heritage and leprosariums in Singapore and Malaysia". International Journal of Heritage Studies. Taylor and Francis. 17 (3): 230–244. doi:10.1080/13527258.2011.556660.
- Burns, James MacGregor (2010). Leadership. Harper Perennial Political Classics Series (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. ISBN 9780061965579.
- Prime Minister's Office website - Official website of the Singapore Prime Minister's Office.
- REACH's website - The Singapore government's official website for public consultation and feedback.
- Mobile Webcast site - Mobile webcast of the event.
- Channel NewsAsia microsite - MediaCorp's live webcast site.
- TODAY online Newspaper - Interactive Graphic.