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Getting Singapore through Covid-19 crisis is top issue on voters' minds this GE: PAP

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, and Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee, at the PAP press conference on Wednesday morning.

SECURING jobs, securing investments and securing Singapore's supply lines are the major challenges in the coming months amid the Covid-19 crisis, said political office-holders from the People's Action Party (PAP) in a press conference on Wednesday morning, the final day of campaigning before Polling Day on July 10.

Singaporeans themselves are very clear that these are the challenges ahead, said PAP's second assistant secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Trade and Industry, who said that he had heard these concerns on the ground as well.

The questions are: how to secure jobs in the next six to 12 months; how to continue attracting investments from both foreign and local sources; and how to secure Singapore's supply lines by diversifying sources.

He and other office-holders laid out what the government has done and is doing on these fronts, as well as in providing social support. Mr Chan said he hoped that every candidate and political party will present their plans on how to help Singapore and Singaporeans overcome these challenges.

Labour chief Ng Chee Meng, who is helming the PAP's team for Sengkang GRC, spoke on the role of the tripartite movement in creating jobs.

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Mr Chan, heading the team for Tanjong Pagar GRC, gave an overview of efforts to uphold the global trading system in the face of growing protectionism, including the signing of digital economy agreements.

In the next six to 12 months, it is crucial to "demonstrate to the world that we can have consistent and coherent long-term policies", he said. Inconsistent manpower policies will erode confidence in Singapore and hurt the country's attractiveness as a destination for investment.

Asked about the observation that foreign investment in Singapore still rose after the 2011 General Election, in which the PAP saw its lowest vote share since independence, Mr Chan replied that even though the upward trend was there, it might have been even higher if not for such obstacles. It is "wrong to assume that the investments will come in to Singapore regardless of what happens in Singapore", he said.

He also spoke on the need to secure supply chains of food, essential items and intermediate products used in manufacturing.

PAP organising secretary Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, noted voters' concerns during this crisis, from fresh grads worrying about whether they can find jobs, to older workers who are unsure if they should risk their health by going to work.

Even as the economic agencies and labour movement work to provide jobs, traineeships and opportunities, Singapore must also strengthen its social safety nets, and Singaporeans themselves can get involved in looking out for each other, said Mr Lee, who is part of the team for West Coast GRC.

He gave a recap of social support that has been provided in this period, including the SG Cares Community Network Outreach efforts to low-income families.

Based on the last eight days of campaigning, it is clear that voters themselves are focused on the issues of tackling Covid-19, said Mr Chan: "People can see through all the sound and fury of the campaigning period."

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