SINGAPORE: The People’s Action Party (PAP) will make protecting lives and saving jobs an “urgent priority” over the next few years, said the party’s first assistant secretary-general Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (Jul 2).
The Government has injected almost S$100 billion into this effort through four Budgets, said Mr Heng, who is the Deputy Prime Minister, in PAP’s first political broadcast for this election.
“We are supporting our healthcare professionals and frontline agencies to contain the virus,” he said.
“We are also providing wage subsidies to help businesses keep Singaporeans in their jobs, and we are creating many new jobs - in both the public and private sectors - for both fresh graduates as well as those who are seeking employment.”
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For those who cannot find a job immediately, Mr Heng said the Government is setting up training opportunities to help them learn skills and access better jobs in time to come.
“We are paying attention to workers in their 40s to 60s, as well as our senior workers, through mid-career pathway programmes and special hiring incentives,” he said. “We are also providing special support for the self-employed, lower-wage workers and those with disabilities.”
Mr Heng said the Government launched the Care and Support Package to help families with the cost of living, with extra support such as the COVID-19 Support Grant for those who are hardest hit.
This comes as Mr Heng said Singapore faces “severe” challenges not just over the next few months, but for many years to come.
“That is why we are calling the General Election now,” he said, stating that this election will be “like no other”, with Singapore’s lives, jobs and future at stake.
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SINGAPORE’S BATTLE AGAINST COVID-19 “FAR FROM OVER”
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented “profound uncertainties” ahead, threatening lives in many countries, he said, adding that it is unclear how bad it can get.
The pandemic has further divided people in some countries, leading to riots and unrest, he said. “These pressures have sharpened geopolitical tensions, making an already troubled world more volatile.”
The economic crisis has also caused “severe disruptions with no end in sight”, he stated, noting that Singapore, as a small and open city-state, “is highly exposed”.
“Even though we have brought the number of new cases down and kept fatalities low, our battle against the virus is far from over,” he added.
All these mean the PAP is seeking a clear mandate to “lead Singapore through the storms ahead”, Mr Heng said.
At the last election in 2015, “under very different circumstances”, he said voters gave the PAP a mandate to take Singapore beyond SG50.
“We delivered what we promised,” he said. “We have begun transforming our economy, to create good, fulfilling jobs for our people.”
Mr Heng said the Government has invested more in education, especially pre-schools, so that every child can have a good start in life. The SkillsFuture movement was also launched so Singaporeans can improve their lives at every stage of their career, he said.
“We strengthened support to uplift lower-income workers; improved access to good, affordable healthcare; cared for our seniors, with additional support for the Merdeka and Pioneer Generations; and continued to encourage strong families and social cohesion,” he added.
“We fixed the train problems - our MRT services are now among the most reliable in the world. And we have kept alive that fundamental promise: That every working Singaporean household will be able to own your own home.”
Mr Heng said the PAP has built on the progress of those who came before them, “united by a shared vision of a fair and just society”.
“To safeguard jobs and livelihoods, we have to continue taking decisive action,” he added. “And in a more fractious world, we have to do our best to stay relevant, competitive, and secure.”