SINGAPORE - Waging war on the coronavirus involves all Singaporeans fighting together, but at the forefront are healthcare workers and "many more unsung heroes all over the island", National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Wednesday (March 25).
He hailed them for going above and beyond the call of duty in these difficult times.
But as he cited the many sectors that went into overdrive to help contain, if not conquer, the coronavirus, the usually business-like minister was overwhelmed with emotion.
The sectors include cleaning, security and airport management, he said.
"Hotels, F&B (food and beverage), transport and many more providing services to Singaporeans, all still going strong, keeping their spirits high, and there are many Singaporeans who have stepped up in their own way, looking after one another and caring for our fellow Singaporeans," he added as he paused to choke back tears.
"May I have a minute," Mr Wong asked Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin as MPs in the House thumped their armrests loudly to express their appreciation of these workers.
Composing himself, the minister, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the outbreak, said: "Let me just rephrase that and repeat what I said just now - words are not sufficient to express our appreciation for so many Singaporeans going all out to fight the virus.
"And I just want to say a big 'Thank You' to everyone who is doing their part."
Earlier, the minister had put the spotlight on volunteers, such as members of the Youth Corps Singapore who have been going door to door to share personal hygiene tips with the elderly, and groups like the Singapore Red Cross that have stepped up their befriending calls to isolated seniors.
Mr Wong also expressed his appreciation of public servants across agencies, who, he said, had worked day and night to put out timely public communications to update Singaporeans on new and updated precautionary measures.
"Not everything they do is visible to the public eye, but I can tell you that they are working round the clock, and it's incredible what they've been able to achieve, especially given the quick turnaround times," he said.
"We are literally making new measures every other day, putting in place adjustments to measures almost on a daily basis."
While the fast-changing situation meant he did not have clear answers to some of the fears and concerns Singaporeans have expressed to him, Singapore will continue to work through the challenges together, he declared, speaking slowly as he regained his composure.
"The coronavirus is, without a doubt, the biggest threat the world and Singapore have faced for decades," he added.
"So let us rally together and rise to this challenge, because as SG United, we can beat the virus together, and we will emerge stronger and toughened after this crisis."