Speed Reading — Level 3 — 100 wpm

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Singapore celebrated its fiftieth birthday on Saturday. The tiny nation became an independent country on August 8th, 1965. The climax of the celebrations was the largest fireworks display ever seen in Singapore. Tens of thousands of people gathered in the streets to celebrate. The country has been counting down to this anniversary since New Year's Eve. There have been hundreds of events to mark the fifty years since independence. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gave a special National Day message to the nation. He said that Singapore could look forward to "new peaks" ahead. He added that: "The journey ahead is uncharted. But we must press on, because we aspire to do better for ourselves and our children."

Singapore has come a long way in the past fifty years. It became independent from Britain when it was thrown out of the Federation of Malaysia after social unrest. The country was very poor back then but the leadership of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made Singapore wealthy. He died earlier this year but there was an empty seat for him at the parade. He made Singapore into one of the world's wealthiest countries. It is the fourth most important global financial centre and is home to the world's second busiest port. A woman said she felt sad that Mr Lee could not live long enough to be at the anniversary. She said: "We definitely feel that something is missing this year, and I still feel the pain in my heart."

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