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Singapore has much to celebrate - and look forward to - as it turns 50: PM Lee

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THERE is "ample reason" for Singapore to celebrate on the occasion of the country's 50th birthday, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday, as the nation looks to its past and into the future.

Addressing the nation in his annual National Day Message, Mr Lee said the Republic should celebrate its journey from Third World to First as one united people with no one left behind.

"Every citizen has benefited from Singapore's progress. Life has improved for all - for Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians; for blue collar as well as white collar workers; for HDB as well as condominium dwellers. We are a nation of home owners. Everyone has opportunities to improve themselves. Everyone can look forward to a brighter future," he said.

Singapore is also able to celebrate 50 years of peace and security, largely due to the efforts of generations of National Servicemen. Citizens can also cheer how a struggling economy with no domestic market made the entire world its market and created jobs for the people.

In his speech, Mr Lee recounted how Singapore left Malaysia, and the apprehension Singaporeans then felt. "But that moment of anguish turned into a lifetime of determination to forge a path for this island nation," he said. "From that break, we began building a nation. And what a journey it has been."

"Let us celebrate how we turned vulnerabilities into strengths. How, without any domestic hinterland, we made PSA and Changi Airport the best in the world. How, from being utterly dependent on Johor for water, we turned the whole island into one catchment area, and developed NEWater. How, while we had no natural resources, we educated every Singaporean and created opportunities for their talents to thrive. We have proven that together, we are greater than the sum of our parts," Mr Lee added.

At 50 years, Singapore stands at a "high base camp" and the country can look back and marvel at how far it has come.

"We are grateful to those who made it happen. From this base camp, we can also look forward to new peaks ahead. The journey ahead is uncharted. But we must press on, because we aspire to do better for ourselves and our children," he said. "We know that we will get there, because we will always be there for one another. We are stronger as one people."