SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob has asked Singaporeans to unite behind the newly elected Government and give it their full support to see the country though the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony of new office holders at the Istana on Monday (Jul 27), Madam Halimah said she was heartened by how Singaporeans from all walks of life have mobilised resources to help each other in difficult times during the pandemic.
“So for this next phase, I ask Singaporeans to similarly unite behind the Government that we have elected, and give it our full support to see Singapore through this crisis,” she said.
While the COVID-19 situation in Singapore has stabilised, the crisis is far from over, said the President.
“The Government called a General Election to secure a fresh mandate and a new full term, in order to make the necessary and difficult decisions to deal with the troubled times ahead. Now that the election is over, we must focus on the challenges and the agenda ahead,” she said.
READ: New office holders will bring fresh ideas and perspectives, says PM Lee at swearing-in of new Cabinet
The General Election held on Jul 10 was won by the People’s Action Party (PAP) with 61.2 per cent of the popular vote. The PAP won 83 seats in Parliament, and 10 seats were won by the Workers’ Party.
The pandemic, which has killed more than 640,000 people worldwide, is the "crisis of a generation" and could set Singapore back for many years, Mdm Halimah said.
“Our progress in the last five years, and over many years before that, has given us a strong base to work from. Even so, we have had to muster all our strength and our resources, to mount an emergency response to this overwhelming challenge,” she said.
Mdm Halimah had approved the Government’s request to draw more than S$50 billion from Singapore’s past reserves to cushion the impact of the outbreak on jobs and the economy.
“I concurred with its assessment that we needed to bring all our resources to bear to deal with this existential challenge – the most serious since our nation’s independence – and protect Singaporeans’ lives and livelihoods,” she said.
Thirty-three office holders were sworn in at two locations - the Istana and the Parliament House – on Monday after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a Cabinet reshuffle on Saturday.
READ: Cabinet reshuffle sees Lawrence Wong appointed as Minister for Education and Ong Ye Kung helming Ministry of Transport
Six ministries now have new ministers at the helm – Mr Lawrence Wong at the Ministry of Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung at the Transport Ministry, Ms Grace Fu at the renamed Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, Mr Masagos Zulkifli at the Ministry of Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee at the Ministry of National Development and Mr Edwin Tong at the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
Five first-term Members of Parliament (MPs) were also sworn in as office holders, with one, Dr Tan See Leng, appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office. Ms Gan Siow Huang, Mr Alvin Tan, Mr Desmond Tan and Mr Tan Kiat How have been appointed Ministers of State.
The Prime Minister said on Saturday that the new Cabinet seeks to balance continuity, exposure and renewal. While there are new office holders, older ministers such as Senior Ministers Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean will continue to serve while Singapore fights the COVID-19 crisis.
Watch the full ceremony: