The National Day Rally (Chinese: 国庆群众大会, 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.[1] 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.[2]


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.[1]

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.[3]

1966 National Day RallyEdit

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."[1]

1971 National Day RallyEdit

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".[1]

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."[1]

1983 National Day RallyEdit

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.[1]

1988 National Day RallyEdit

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."[1]

1991 National Day RallyEdit

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."[1]

2002 National Day RallyEdit

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".[1]

2004 National Day RallyEdit

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.[1] 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.[4]

2005 National Day RallyEdit

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.Template:Citation needed

2007 National Day RallyEdit

In 2007, opposition and Nominated Members of Parliament were invited to the National Day Rally for the first time.[5]

2008 National Day RallyEdit

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.[6]

2009 National Day RallyEdit

In 2009, Singaporeans used the Twitter hashtag #ndrsg to tweet about the rally.

2010 National Day RallyEdit

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 RallyEdit

The 2012 rally marked the first 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.[1] It was held on the last Sunday of August to facilitate Ramadan festivities.

2013 National Day RallyEdit

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.[1] Lee said the move was "for a serious purpose - to underscore my longstanding commitment to investing in…every Singaporean".[7]

2015 National Day RallyEdit

In his 2015 speech, "set within the context 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.[8]

2016 National Day Rally Edit

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.[9]



As a national event, the rally is usually broadcast live from 6.45pm till 10pm (SST), with a break between 7.30pm and 8pm, across MediaCorp channels.[10] 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.

Platform/Language English
Dubbing in English
Dubbing in Mandarin
Dubbing in Malay
Dubbing in Tamil
TV Channel 5
Channel NewsAsia (8pm-10pm)
Channel 8
Channel U
Suria Vasantham
Radio 938LIVE Capital 95.8FM Warna 94.2FM Oli 96.8FM
Online Channel NewsAsia Live
xinmsn (Chinese) - -

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 ralliesEdit

19668 August 1966 (Monday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
196716 August 1967 (Wednesday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
196816 August 1968 (Friday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
196916 August 1969 (Saturday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197016 August 1970 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197115 August 1971 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197213 August 1972 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197326 August 1973 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197418 August 1974 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197517 August 1975 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197615 August 1976 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197714 August 1977 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197813 August 1978 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
197919 August 1979 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198017 August 1980 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198116 August 1981 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198215 August 1982 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198314 August 1983 (Sunday)National TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198419 August 1984 (Sunday)Singapore Conference HallLee Kuan Yew
198518 August 1985 (Sunday)Singapore Conference HallLee Kuan Yew
198617 August 1986 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198716 August 1987 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198814 August 1988 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreLee Kuan Yew
198920 August 1989 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreLee Kuan Yew
199026 August 1990 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreLee Kuan Yew
199111 August 1991 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199216 August 1992 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199315 August 1993 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199421 August 1994 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199520 August 1995 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199618 August 1999 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199724 August 1997 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199823 August 1998 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
199922 August 1999 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
200020 August 2000 (Sunday)Kallang TheatreGoh Chok TongEnglish
200119 August 2001 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreGoh Chok TongEnglish
200218 August 2002 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreGoh Chok TongEnglish
200317 August 2003 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreGoh Chok TongEnglish
200422 August 2004 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
200521 August 2005 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
200620 August 2006 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
200719 August 2007 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongMalay · Chinese · English
200817 August 2008 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
200916 August 2009 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
201029 August 2010 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
201114 August 2011 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
201226 August 2012 (Sunday)University Cultural CentreLee Hsien LoongEnglish
201318 August 2013 (Sunday)ITE College CentralLee Hsien LoongEnglish
201417 August 2014 (Sunday)ITE College CentralLee Hsien LoongMalay · Chinese · English
201523 August 2015 (Sunday)ITE College CentralLee Hsien LoongMalay · Chinese · English
201621 August 2016 (Sunday)ITE College CentralLee Hsien LoongMalay · Chinese · English (part 1 · part 2)
201720 August 2017 (Sunday)ITE College CentralLee Hsien Loong


Template:Copypaste An article titled "Singapore's National Day Rally Speech: A Site of Ideological Negotiation"[11] 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:[11] "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).[12] 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)[13] - who have been written into the official "Singapore Story" as the brave and far-sighted founders of contemporary Singapore (Loh,1998).[14] 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)[15] has identified as a transformative mode of leadership, through which it can uplift, inspire and motivate in times of real crisis."


External linksEdit