Speech By Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Senior Minister Of State For Finance And Transport, At The Grand Christmas Celebration Concert, 25 December 2008 At Orchard Road26 Dec 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, a very good evening to all of you, to both my fellow Singaporeans and our overseas friends who are here with us.
2. I am very pleased to join all of you once again this year in the heart of Orchard Road to celebrate Christmas. Let me thank the organisers for inviting me tonight. Seeing people from all walks of life harmoniously celebrating Christmas today reminds me of the true spirit of Christmas - that is, loving and caring for one another regardless of our differences.
Rallying Together During a Difficult Time
3. But some may ask - what is there to celebrate? The financial systems have gone into distress, stockmarkets have lost much of their value, major companies are in desperate need of rescue and the economy is in a tailspin in many countries. Individuals are nervous and worried about losing their jobs and incomes.
4. Singapore, being an open economy that is plugged into the global marketplace, is not spared. Likewise, Singaporeans face the same challenges of employment uncertainty.
5. While there may not seem to be any good reason to celebrate this Christmas and the New Year, let's take stock of what we still have to see us through this downturn. We still have our resilience as individuals, as families, as communities.
6. Much has been said about how as individuals, we can do our utmost, to use the various Government schemes so as to ensure our own employability. Families are the bedrock of our society, and are with us through thick and thin. There's no value that we can attach to strong family bonds. Let's provide moral support to family members and actively help to manage finances. Let's handle challenges as a family.
7. As communities, we can also do much. We can reach out in many different ways - to provide concrete help to those who are experiencing financial hardship, or in need of assistance with employment.
8. The theme of today's celebration "The Spirit of Christmas" reminds us of the key values that lie at the heart of the Christian faith - values like compassion, humility and tolerance. These values are especially relevant to our way of life as a multi-cultural and multi-religious society in Singapore. The constant interactions that we have with each other - be it in our day-to-day activities or on special occasions like our religious holidays - help strengthen the bonds between members of our different communities and ensure that we remain a cohesive society, through good times and bad.
9. Nothing happens by accident. However, it is not just what our religious and community leaders do, but what each of us, as citizens, does which ensures that Singapore remains a peaceful and harmonious society. So we must continue to make the effort to know each other even better. This will ensure that our social fabric remains strong.
Remembering the Less Fortunate
10. Regardless of the economic situation, let's not forget those around us who are less fortunate than us, especially those who are cut-off from society or who are disadvantaged. We all have a responsibility to care for the vulnerable in society. Let's follow the good example of the organizer of this concert, Celebrate Christmas in Singapore, who is giving Love Hampers to the less fortunate. This is a demonstration of the true spirit of Christmas.
11. Let me end by wishing all of you a blessed Christmas as well as a happy and joyous New Year. Have an enjoyable evening. Thank you.