Singapore GE2020: Opposition has not offered ideas to tackle outbreak, says PM Lee Hsien Loong

The parties have shown no recognition that S'pore faces the crisis of a generation, he says

Warning against becoming complacent, PM Lee Hsien Loong said the danger is still very much alive, and Singaporeans cannot afford to take chances. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, the opposition parties have not offered any suggestions on how to tackle the deadly scourge, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Instead, they are talking as if the crisis does not exist and Singapore can keep to its old ways, PM Lee added.

This is a "moment of danger and alarm", but the opposition has shown no recognition that the country is facing the crisis of a generation, he said at his lunchtime online Fullerton rally.

"They have been completely silent on how to tackle Covid-19 - both during the last six months and in this election campaign.

"What contribution will they make in Parliament, adding 'contrast' to the discussions they say, if they get elected as MPs? What will happen to Singapore, if they form the government?"

Various opposition parties have criticised the Government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis and its decision to call an election during the pandemic.

Progress Singapore Party chief Tan Cheng Bock had said that the Government needs to focus on the public health aspects of the outbreak and not just jobs, while the Workers' Party and Singapore Democratic Party have put forth proposals to help those affected by the economic fallout from the pandemic.

PM Lee, however, countered that opposition parties "prattle on" about such proposals as a minimum wage or universal basic income, which are "fashionable peacetime slogans, not serious wartime plans".

"How will a minimum wage help somebody who is unemployed? It will just add to employers' cost, and pressure them to drop even more workers," he said.

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"How will we pay for a universal basic income?" he asked, adding that increasing the goods and services tax, or GST, will not be enough for it.

"Do you really want to vote for parties who in a crisis come up with nothing better than old recycled manifestos?" he said.

Beyond the emergency relief in this year's Budgets, the more fundamental solution for jobs is to turn Singapore's economy around, the Prime Minister said.

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The country needs to create new jobs, and must attract new investments to do so. This means maintaining confidence in Singapore, so that companies will not lose faith in it during this crisis, he added.

He asked what the opposition parties have to say about getting Singapore out of the downturn, growing the economy or creating new jobs.

PM Lee, who is secretary-general of the People's Action Party, also called on Singaporeans not to undermine a system that has served them well, adding that they should not be taken in by those who say it is important "just to have more choices".

"Look carefully at the choices they offer you. Ask yourself if they can deliver," he stressed.

"Don't be taken for a ride. Your future is at stake."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2020, with the headline Opposition has not offered ideas to tackle outbreak, says PM Lee. Subscribe