SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Jun 7) urged Singaporeans to be united and resilient in order for the country to tide over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Calling it the “crisis of a generation”, Mr Lee said he believes Singapore can emerge stronger because its people are its strength.
“Once in a while, nations and peoples are severely tested, as we are now. Some buckle under pressure and emerge from crisis diminished. Others grow more determined as they face fearful odds, discover reserves of strength in themselves, and emerge from crisis transfigured, renewed,” he said in a nationally televised speech.
“And that has been our Singapore story: In crises, we have never failed to wrest opportunity from danger.”
READ: A stronger and better Singapore will emerge from COVID-19 crisis despite 'immense challenges': PM Lee
In full: PM Lee's address on Singapore's post-COVID-19 future, the first in a series of ministerial broadcasts
Mr Lee’s speech is the first in a series of national broadcasts where Cabinet ministers will lay out the nation’s plans post-COVID-19.
“In the next few weeks, several ministers will address you and share with you our plans. We have a full agenda for many years to come,” he said.
“SHARPER CONSCIOUSNESS OF BEING SINGAPOREAN”
Many Singaporeans have stepped up during this crisis, the Prime Minister said, giving examples of healthcare workers, public officers, grassroots leaders and volunteers who have come forward help others in need.
There are those supporting operations at migrant worker dormitories which have been hard-hit by the coronavirus, people sewing masks for distribution, volunteers buying groceries for families under quarantine, as well as some who are refurbishing computers for needy students learning from home.
Abroad, Singaporeans have driven hundreds of kilometres to pick up fellow citizens to catch Singapore Airlines flights home, he recounted.
“These acts of solidarity and human kindness exemplify the best in us. They show how we can emerge stronger from this crisis, with a sharper consciousness of being Singaporean,” he said.
“This is why I believe we can continue to be exceptional – a fair and just society, where everyone can chase their dreams.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is just one of many challenges Singapore faced since independence.
“Indeed, our nation was born in crisis,” said Mr Lee.
“When we were granted independence, it was in the expectation that we would fail and come crawling back, after realising we could not survive alone. We proved otherwise,” he continued.
“Two years later, the British suddenly announced that they were withdrawing their forces from Singapore. Again, many thought that would be the end of us. And again, we proved them wrong.”
The Pioneer Generation - those born in the 1930s and 40s - and the Merdeka Generation who were born in the 1950s had weathered many storms, never flinching at hard choices and challenges, said Mr Lee.
A "HINGE" IN HISTORY
The COVID-19 pandemic is “another hinge” in Singapore’s history and the crisis which will define this generation.
“The choices that we make now will define who we are as a people, and what values and ideals we pass on to future generations,” he added.
“Confronting adversity, do we yield to anger, fear and bitterness? Or will we be true to ourselves, stand firm, make tough choices, and continue to trust and depend on one another?”
Despite “disruptive and difficult” times ahead, Mr Lee assured Singaporeans that the country can emerge stronger and better from the crisis.
On the economic front, Singapore will have to pursue economic transformation more vigorously, navigate a changing external strategic landscape globally, while deepening its social compact at home, he said.
In addition, there are support programmes such as the Jobs Support Scheme to help businesses and workers.
Calling on Singaporeans to stand with the Government in its efforts to lead the country out of crisis, Mr Lee said: “For our plans to succeed, for our hopes and dreams to come true, we need one final ingredient - the unity and resilience of our people.”
He added: “Together, let us take Singapore safely through this crisis, and make the Singapore spirit flourish in the world.”