To Postal and Telecommunications workers who were facing pay cuts (1959)

“…the commitments that you and I have made to ensure a healthy, happy and prosperous democratic State of Singapore for your children and my children is a commitment which we would be sorry to see unfulfilled.”

To workers at May Day Rally (1960)

“…the state must protect your rice bowl, your friend’s rice bowl and also that of your children.”

On his wish for 1966

“You are doing this for a better life for yourselves and an even better one for your children. And that is what I am supposed to do – referee in order to ensure that you get that.”

To NTUC and Services Unions to prepare for the withdrawal of the British bases (1967)

“Our future depends upon our capacity to discipline and organise our community so that they can make the adjustments required. We must brace our people up to meet the changes that are coming.”

How we need to be tough to survive (1968)

“In Singapore, we have to be a tough people in order to accept stern measures for collective survival. Otherwise, the government cannot govern by consent. If you elect people who offer soft solutions to tough problems, there will be no solution, and bankruptcy and chaos will result.”

Why trade unions are important (1969)

“Self-respect is what our trade unions have and will give to our workers, that protection for a man’s right to his own dignity, his dignity as a human being, as a citizen. He may be an unskilled worker, but he is one of us.”

To mother tongue teachers on teaching basic values and culture (1972)

“…it is the hard framework of basic cultural values and the tightly knit Asian family system that have enabled us to achieve what we have.”

Addressing Sembawang Shipyard Employees’ Union (1974)

“Our lives and our children’s future must be built on a solid infrastructure of education and skills, tuned to high performance by efficient management, always able to respond quickly to sudden changes in the world.”

On the challenges of getting more women in the workforce (1975)

“The only differences between men and women workers are the physical and biological ones. Women are equal to men in intellectual capacity.”

“Societies which do not educate and use half their potential because they are women are those which will be the worse off.”

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