Singapore GE2020: PM Lee on how EDB drew in $13b in first 4 months this year

S'pore's reputation for effective government, with popular support, enabled it to do so

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is helming the People's Action Party team in Ang Mo Kio GRC, chatting with an elderly resident at AMK Hub during a walkabout yesterday. For Singapore to get through the crisis, it must have the best possible leader
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is helming the People's Action Party team in Ang Mo Kio GRC, chatting with an elderly resident at AMK Hub during a walkabout yesterday. For Singapore to get through the crisis, it must have the best possible leadership and a united population that give their leaders their full support, said PM Lee in a video message.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Economic Development Board (EDB) secured $13 billion in new investments in just the first four months of this year - and that money will generate several thousand jobs over the next few years.

So, how was EDB able to do this during a pandemic and a recession?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday took pains to explain how the EDB managed to do so, describing it as "an extraordinary feat". In an ordinary year, the EDB would attract about $10 billion for the whole year, he noted.

"Singapore enjoys a strong reputation internationally and investors have confidence in us".

"Investors know the quality of our Government - they have met our ministers and worked with our public service. They also know our Government has strong popular support."

Investors are also confident the Government can get Singaporeans to "back policies that will grow the economy, attract talent and investment, and eventually create jobs for Singaporeans".

"These have been the fundamentals of our economic success and the reason why MNCs have kept faith with us," he said in a video message posted on social media platforms yesterday.

He added that in a crisis, it is even more critical for Singapore to reinforce these fundamentals to attract more investments and create jobs.

It is also important not to lose sight of the long-term mission of making Singapore better, even as the nation deals with the immediate need to get through the Covid-19 crisis.

PM Lee said the recession will be over one day, but the world after the coronavirus pandemic will look very different. Singapore's external environment will be less stable, the world economy will be less integrated and not only would the world have changed, but it would also be a "changing one".

Singapore, he said, will have to be resilient and adaptable, "to earn our living in this new world".

That is why this election will be a critical one, he said. Singaporeans will be choosing the leadership team they want to get them through the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and beyond, he added.

The next elected government has to save jobs and businesses, and persevere with long-term plans to build a better future for Singaporeans, added PM Lee, who is secretary-general of the ruling People's Action Party.

Two things are critical for Singapore to get through the Covid-19 crisis, he said. "First, the best possible leadership for Singapore. Second, a solidly united population that give the leaders they have chosen full support."

 
 
 
 

On leadership, he said the PAP has worked hard to put together the best team for Singaporeans. This team is anchored by experienced ministers and parliamentarians who have seen the country through past crises and, therefore, know "what to expect, what to do, what pitfalls and traps to avoid".

The party has also added to its ranks new faces who come from all walks of life, he said.

"Indeed, our new candidates this time are among the most grounded, the most organic, the most relatable we have had in years... They reflect our evolving society and they each have their individual perspectives and passions," said PM Lee.

What they have in common are "core values and convictions, and the courage to do right by Singapore, like every generation of PAP leaders before them", he added.

"The PAP is determined to provide Singapore not only a strong leadership team for the next five years, but (also) a team that has depth and continually renews itself for the future."

This is why younger ministers were put in charge of the task force tackling the Covid-19 crisis, he said. "This is not a dry run, nor even a live firing exercise. This is deadly serious real-life crisis management in an unprecedented global crisis," PM Lee said, adding that he is happy the younger ministers have proved themselves up to the task. "This is what it means to be a responsible steward of Singapore and of our future."

But a capable leadership can succeed only if it wins the strong support of the people, PM Lee said.

He added that Singaporeans must feel that the Government is building up the country not just for the current generation, but also as a "sustained effort spanning generations".

"The world may be uncertain and many dangers lurk which can derail our plans," he said. "But if our Government and people are united, trusting each other and working together with a clear direction, we can overcome any challenge that comes our way and make steady progress, decade by decade, towards our long-term vision."

On the Covid-19 pandemic, he said Singapore is still in the thick of the fight and must sustain its collective effort to keep the virus from spreading.

 
 
 

On Singapore's long-term plans, PM Lee said the pandemic may force the country to "take down some sails, divert around the worst weather" and change its course. For instance, Changi Airport's mega Terminal 5 has been put on hold for at least two years.

But the nation's ultimate destination remains the same, he said. Its plans include building more and better pre-schools, ensuring healthcare is affordable for the elderly and preparing for climate change.

"These are ambitious plans, spanning decades. With the crisis, we will have to revise some of them," PM Lee said, adding that the Government is nevertheless resolved to realise these plans, "because we are determined to always be exceptional, always distinguishing ourselves in an ever-changing world".

He noted that Singapore is where it is today because generations of Singaporeans have trusted the PAP and worked with it to build the country. "Your support has been the PAP's greatest strength. And the PAP has never let you down. Now, we must face the crisis of a generation together and carve out our place in the world anew."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2020, with the headline 'PM on how EDB drew in $13b in first 4 months this year'. Print Edition | Subscribe