Singapore GE2020: Protecting lives, saving jobs a top priority amid turbulence

A PAP logo outside a coffee shop at Ang Mo Kio Town Centre. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the ruling party is seeking a clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
A PAP logo outside a coffee shop at Ang Mo Kio Town Centre. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the ruling party is seeking a clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG


First assistant secretary-general

My fellow Singaporeans, good evening.

Next week, we will head to the polls. This election will be like no other. Our lives, our jobs and the future of Singapore are at stake. The PAP is seeking a clear mandate to lead Singapore through the storms ahead.

Five years ago, under very different circumstances, you gave the PAP your mandate to take Singapore beyond SG50. We delivered what we promised.

We have begun transforming our economy, to create good, fulfilling jobs for our people. We invested more in education, especially pre-schools, so that every child can have a good start in life, fulfil their fullest potential, and have good jobs when they grow up. We launched the SkillsFuture movement, for we believe all Singaporeans must be able to improve their lives at every stage of their career.

We strengthened support to uplift lower-income workers; improved access to good, affordable healthcare; cared for our seniors, with additional support for the Merdeka and Pioneer Generations; and continued to encourage strong families and social cohesion.

We fixed the train problems - our MRT services are now among the most reliable in the world.

And we have kept alive that fundamental promise: that every working Singaporean household will be able to own your own home. Together, we built on the progress of those who came before us, united by a shared vision of a fair and just society.

Today, Covid-19 presents us with profound uncertainties ahead. The pandemic threatens lives in many countries. It is unclear how bad it can get. The economic crisis has caused severe disruptions, with no end in sight. In some countries, the pandemic has further divided people, even leading to riots and unrest. All these pressures have sharpened geopolitical tensions, making an already troubled world more volatile.

As a small and open city-state, Singapore is highly exposed. Even though we have brought the number of new cases down and kept fatalities low, our battle against the virus is far from over. To safeguard jobs and livelihoods, we have to continue taking decisive action. And in a more fractious world, we have to do our best to stay relevant, competitive and secure.

We face severe challenges, not just over the next few months, but for many years to come.

That is why we are calling the general election now.


Our urgent priority over the next few years is to protect lives and save jobs. Through four Budgets, we have injected almost $100 billion into this effort. We are supporting our healthcare professionals and front-line agencies to contain the virus. We are also providing wage subsidies to help businesses keep Singaporeans in their jobs, And we are creating many new jobs - in both the public and private sectors - for both fresh graduates, as well as those who are seeking employment.

For those who can't find a job immediately, we are setting up many new training opportunities, to help you acquire skills and access better jobs in time to come. We are paying attention to workers in their 40s to 60s, as well as our senior workers, through mid-career pathway programmes and special hiring incentives.

We are also providing special support for the self-employed, lower-wage workers and those with disabilities. For all families, we are providing the Care and Support Package to help with daily cost of living, And for those hardest hit, we are providing extra support, such as through the Covid-19 Support Grant.

Beyond the immediate future, we must continue investing in capabilities that can help us emerge stronger after this crisis. We will step up efforts to transform and grow our economy, to make it more innovative and resilient, so as to create new opportunities for all Singaporeans.

We must deepen our links with the world, work with like-minded partners to keep trade flowing, and enable more of our businesses, including SMEs, to expand beyond our shores. At home, we will promote new growth areas to create more good jobs for our people - in partnership with businesses and industry in the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, and working together to pilot new solutions through the Singapore Together Alliances for Action.

To make sure that no Singaporean will be left to walk alone, we will continue to build a more fair and just society. We will continue to invest in the education of our young, with special support for those with greater needs. We will improve our social safety nets, working with partners to build communities of care across Singapore. We will give our seniors better support to retire comfortably, and strengthen our healthcare system to care for an ageing population. Taken together with our additional support for education, this will relieve pressure on "sandwiched" Singaporeans, who are caring for both their children as well as their parents.

We will never stop building our city into a better home. From local improvements to national projects, Singaporeans can look forward to a better quality of life, and to a greener, more connected, more liveable city.

Finally, looking far ahead to 2100 and beyond, we are putting in place bold plans for us to live sustainably, and protect Singapore against climate change and the rising sea.

But just as at past turning points in our history, for plans to become reality, we need strong partnerships among Singaporeans, and between our people and the Government.

This is what has given us an edge in this crisis so far. All segments of our society are stepping up. Our front-line workers, volunteers, community groups and businesses have all been working hard - taking care of our vulnerable, and keeping our community going strong. We have shown what it means to be Singapore Together. The PAP will strengthen this solidarity and bring every citizen on board.

We have set up Singapore Together Action Networks, to engage partners from different sectors to turn ideas into action. Your ideas, your passions and your energies will be our strength. And with this strength, we will emerge stronger as an economy, as a society and as one people. We will create a better future together.

To work together effectively, we must all pull in the same direction. A strong and capable government will help us achieve this, even more so during a crisis.

The PAP is up to this task. The PAP's leadership team is tested and proven. PM Lee and the older ministers have seen Singapore through many previous crises. Together with the 4G leaders, we have a leadership team that is ready to take on whatever lies ahead.

And as in past elections, we have many promising new candidates, to renew the bench and broaden the range of perspectives that we can draw on.

This election will be tough. Singaporeans have been greatly affected by the pandemic, and are anxious about their future.

We will fight hard to deserve your vote - in every SMC and every GRC - for every vote represents a hope for the future.

I ask for your strong support, so that we can continue to work with you and serve you. Vote for the party that will secure our lives, our jobs, our future. Vote for the People's Action Party.

Thank you.

Watch the broadcast here.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2020, with the headline 'Protecting lives, saving jobs a top priority amid turbulence'. Subscribe