SINGAPORE — Even as society is immersed in the present, Singaporeans must understand their past and be confident of their future, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

What Singapore has achieved is a function of its history and in the South-east Asian context, he said. “We ourselves must know our history, to understand how Singapore works, why we do the things we do.”

SG50 is an important occasion to remember the Republic’s history, said Mr Lee, as he announced the setting up of a memorial to the victims of Konfrontasi opposite MacDonald House.

The Battle for Merger, Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s radio talks in 1961, will also be republished next week.

At the same time, SG50 should also be a time to look ahead — to set new goals for the next 50 years and to aim high.

Mr Lee highlighted how Singapore is being transformed “in many ambitious ways”, such as the implementation of “bold” social policies and investment in people.

He noted that young people may sometime be anxious about the future, and while some anxiety is constructive — “it keeps us on our toes” — he cautioned that it should not lead to paralysis or despondency.

“We need to be both paranoid and at the same time paradoxically confident. Then we can make Singapore a special nation for Singaporeans,” he said. The Government will do its part, he said, and urged everybody to play their part.