Strong families make for a strong nation: PM Lee, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Strong families make for a strong nation: PM Lee

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His CNY message follows Govt's initiatives in past year to support young families

As Chinese families in Singapore gather for their reunion dinner this evening, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of strong kindred ties, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Family members are the ones people turn to in times of weal and woe, and it is the reason most people cherish close ties with their extended family, even if they do not live together, PM Lee said in his annual Chinese New Year message.

Strong families also make for a strong nation, he added.

"Singapore should be a society where families are celebrated and supported, especially young families starting out."

This is why the Government has introduced a slew of initiatives in the past year to support and encourage young families, he said.

These include increased pre-school subsidies to lighten the financial load of raising a child, and a larger government budget to help companies offer flexible work arrangements to parents and caregivers.

While he hoped the initiatives would spur more young couples to start families or add to their growing families, PM Lee said he also understood that choosing a life partner or having a child is a deeply personal decision.

"But from my own experience, there is no greater joy than hearing the laughter of our children and grandchildren, especially on festive occasions like Chinese New Year."

He noted that this Chinese New Year comes amid anxiety around the world and sobering events such as floods in Jakarta, drought in Thailand, bush fires in Australia and turbulence in the Middle East, Hong Kong and France.

"We wish these societies well as they heal and recover," he added.

This was the first time in years that PM Lee sent his Chinese New Year greetings from overseas.

He returns from Switzerland tomorrow after attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, an annual gathering of global leaders in politics, industry and civil society.

PM Lee said it was unfortunate he would miss his family's reunion dinner, but added that a highlight of his trip was the chance to celebrate with the Singaporean community in Zurich.

"No matter where in the world we may be, there is something special and heartwarming that bonds Singaporeans together, and a special place in our hearts for Singapore," he said.

As Singaporeans usher in the Year of the Rat, the first in the Chinese zodiac cycle, he said this was an opportunity to refresh and start anew.

"Let us learn something from the proverbial nimbleness, creativity and wit of the rat. These qualities will help us overcome future challenges and build a better Singapore for ourselves and our children," he said.

PM Lee wishes all Singaporeans a very happy and healthy Chinese New Year.