Key points from PM Lee Hsien Loong's speech at the annual PAP convention

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the PAP annual convention, at Big Box on Nov 19, 2017.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the PAP annual convention, at Big Box on Nov 19, 2017. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivered a wide-ranging speech at the People's Action Party's annual convention on Sunday (Nov 19).

Mr Lee, who is the party's secretary-general, spoke on foreign relations, the economy, public transport and how the PAP must work hard to maintain Singaporeans' trust, among other things.

Here's what you need to know from his speech.

1. On foreign relations

Singapore's relations with US and China are in good order. Relations with Malaysia and Indonesia are also good.

There will always be ups and downs in relations with other countries, big and small, but Singapore's fundamental approach should not change.

It should take a long-term view, by not taking good relations for granted and more importantly, not cowering or becoming flustered when relations are down.

No foreign country should ever influence Singapore's domestic debate and politics, so Singaporeans need to understand their country's core interests, to stay united in the face of challenges.

2. On the economy

Singapore is benefitting from the world economy doing well. Unemployment remains low, wages have gone up and the GDP growth forecast may exceed 3 per cent.

To keep the economy growing, Singapore has to press on with plans to restructure the economy. Unions and employers will need to work hand-in-hand with the Government.

Its strategies to take care of workers are skills upgrading, job matching and job creation.

The Government will also support businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, to change the way they operate, grow new markets, and use technology and manpower more efficiently.

3. On public transport

Incidents such as the tunnel flooding in Bishan and train collision in Joo Koon should not have happened, and there is a need to put things right.

Improving infrastructure is a priority, especially the public transport system.

While statistics show there are fewer delays and breakdowns, major disruptions loom large in the public consciousness and damage public confidence.

Singapore is home to a first-class transport system, ranking as a top city for reliability alongside Hong Kong, Taipei and Los Angeles - cities where trains are on time more than 99 per cent of the time, according to a New York Times newspaper article.

4. On infrastructure and taxes

As the Government pours more money into infrastructure and social spending,taxes will be raised.

Singapore is making major infrastructure investments like the High Speed Rail to Kuala Lumpur.

It will also double the capacities of its air and sea ports, with a new Terminal 5 in Changi, and a megaport in Tuas. With the megaport, the Greater Southern Waterfront will be opened for longer-term development in a new area thrice the size of Marina Bay.

These are in addition to other expansions in the public transport network, like more MRT lines.

5. On public trust

The trust between Singapore and the PAP was built over more than 60 years ago It was done by the ruling party working with Singaporeans, delivering results and working through difficult policies such as National Service and the Goods and Services Tax.

This trust must never be taken for granted or frittered away. To implement its policies, PAP also need the people's support.

This does not mean the Government does only popular things. While making hard choices, it has to be upfront with the people and convince them that policies are in their interests.

In the coming years, this trust will be tested and will be more important than ever.

6. On the labour movement

The longstanding symbiotic relationship between the PAP and the labour movement will become even more crucial as workers face technological disruption.

This relationship must be nurtured at the leadership level, and it is why younger ministers have been asked to work more closely with the labour movement.

The party's beginnings were with the unions, and harmonious labour relations have become a lasting competitive advantage of Singapore.

Each fourth-generation minister will take on a specific partnership with the National Trades Union Congress, and younger MPs will also be involved.