Coronavirus pandemic

PM, ministers to speak on post-Covid future

Speeches will lay out plans on how the Govt will lead S'pore out of the economic crisis

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be speaking this evening on overcoming the crisis of a generation.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be speaking this evening on overcoming the crisis of a generation. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and four other ministers will deliver a series of national broadcasts, starting today, on what a post-Covid-19 future looks like for Singapore and how the country can see itself through the challenges.

In these speeches, which centre on the theme of securing Singapore's future in a post-Covid-19 world, PM Lee and the ministers will lay out plans to lead Singapore out of the economic crisis.

The areas they will cover are:

• What Singaporeans must do to live with Covid-19 for the long haul, so that people can go about their daily lives safely;

• How the country can maintain its relevance on the world stage as the geopolitical situation changes;

• How to keep the economy competitive so that businesses can prosper and create good jobs for Singaporeans;

• How to create promising opportunities for all Singaporeans to succeed, and care for those who are more vulnerable; and

• How Singaporeans can work together to emerge stronger from this crisis.

In a statement on the broadcasts, which come as Singapore exits a circuit breaker imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Prime Minister's Office said: "With the Fortitude Budget on May 26, 2020, the Singapore Government has committed almost $100 billion to support workers and businesses to fight against Covid-19.

"But the longer-term economic challenges remain formidable. Covid-19 has severely disrupted the global economy. Singapore must respond quickly to these global shifts and prepare for the difficult times ahead."

On Friday, Parliament passed the $33 billion Fortitude Budget, the fourth Budget this year, in which DPM Heng outlined plans to save jobs, create new training opportunities, and help hard-hit groups.

These plans are key planks of the Government's agenda in the next few years and are expected to be part of its pitch to voters, with a general election expected to be called within weeks.

For National University of Singapore associate professor of sociology Tan Ern Ser, the launch of the series could signal the beginning of the election season proper.

Noting that it will begin with PM Lee and end with the presumptive next leader, DPM Heng, he said: "The manifest function is to rally Singaporeans to stand with the Government, and strengthen their confidence in its leadership, trusting that it could lead Singaporeans through the challenges brought about by the pandemic and towards a bright future for all Singaporeans.

"The latent function is to convince Singaporeans that a People's Action Party government with a strong mandate is in the best position to protect their interests and welfare in the difficult journey ahead."

Meanwhile, Singapore Management University associate professor of law Eugene Tan said the broadcasts come at an opportune time, as people seek a road map that will give some direction beyond what has already been said about saving lives and livelihoods.

The economic emergency unleashed by the health crisis - which PM Lee has described as "the crisis of our generation" - has also put pressure on society, he added.

The national broadcasts will start this evening with PM Lee speaking on overcoming the crisis of a generation, followed this week by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on living with Covid-19, and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean on resilience in a changing external environment.

Next week, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing will speak on making a living in a Covid-19 world, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on a stronger and more cohesive society, and DPM Heng on emerging stronger together.

All the speeches will be televised - from 7.30pm on CNA in English, then 8.30pm on Suria in Malay as well as on Channel 5 in English with sign-language interpretation, 9pm on Vasantham in Tamil and 9.30pm on Channel 8 in Mandarin.

Singaporeans can also tune in on the various online platforms. In addition, the speeches by PM Lee and DPM Heng will be on their Facebook pages as well as the Prime Minister's Office YouTube channel.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 07, 2020, with the headline PM, ministers to speak on post-Covid future. Subscribe