SINGAPORE: Singapore needs the “best possible leadership” and a “solidly united population” that gives its chosen leaders full support to get through COVID-19 and its resulting economic consequences, said the People’s Action Party (PAP) secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Jul 1).
In an address posted on the PAP's Facebook page, the Prime Minister said: “The government that you elect will have its hands full. It must continue fighting the virus and keep Singaporeans safe.
“It must save jobs and businesses so that our people can continue to make a living. It must persevere with our long term plans so Singaporeans can still look forward to a better future.”
Singapore will have to sustain its COVID-19 efforts for “perhaps a year, or even longer”, added Mr Lee, but must be prepared for a resurgence in cases as the country reopens, citing similar situations in South Korea, Germany and the US.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global recession, and Singapore has avoided massive job losses and company closures so far because the Government “acted decisively”, Mr Lee said.
“But the worst of the economic downturn is yet to come. Especially since the virus is surging again in the US and elsewhere. There will be more retrenchments. And some of these jobs may never come back,” he said, adding that jobs must be a key focus of the Government in the coming months and years.
Noting that the Economic Development Board (EDB) secured S$13 billion in investment commitments in the first quarter of 2020, Mr Lee said this is “extraordinary”.
“In an ordinary year, we attract S$10 billion only, during the whole year.
“How was EDB able to do this during a pandemic and a recession? It is because Singapore enjoys a strong reputation, internationally and investors have confidence in us,” he added.
“Investors know the quality of our Government. They have met our ministers and worked with our public service. They also know our Government has strong popular support.”
The PAP has “many long-term plans” for Singapore beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, said Mr Lee, including better preschools, affordable healthcare for the elderly, the development of new HDB estates and preparing for climate change.
“Capable government leadership is essential in this endeavour. But the leadership can only succeed if it wins the strong support of the people. Our people too must feel that we are building Singapore, not just for the current generation of Singaporeans, but as a sustained effort spanning generations,” he added.
Adding that the PAP has “worked very hard” to “put together the best team” for this General Election, Mr Lee said: “It’s an experienced team, anchored by ministers and MPs who’ve seen Singapore through past crises and therefore know what to expect, what to do, what pitfalls and traps to avoid.
“We’ve also refreshed the team with a younger generation of promising Singaporeans. They come from all walks of life. Indeed our new candidates this time are among the most grounded, the most organic, the most relatable we have had in years. They’ve been knocked about and learned about life, made mistakes and learnt from them.”
Singapore has made it “thus far against all odds” because generations of Singaporeans have “trusted the PAP” and worked with the party to “build this country”, said Mr Lee.
“Your support has been the PAP’s greatest strength, and the PAP has never let you down.”