You are here

PM Lee: Opposition parties silent on tackling Covid-19, economic crisis

DSCF4701.jpg
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivers the digital equivalent of the People's Action Party's customary Fullerton rally, which usually takes place after the midpoint of each election campaign.

OPPOSITION parties have had nothing to say about tackling the Covid-19 pandemic or getting Singapore out of this historic downturn – the very issues that are at the heart of this General Election (GE), said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, during the digital equivalent of the People's Action Party's (PAP) customary lunchtime rally at Fullerton Square. 

The Fullerton rally is usually held after the midpoint of the campaign, as an occasion to take stock and "refocus everyone's minds on what is at stake", he said. And what is at stake this time, he said, is the need to get through the Covid-19 crisis.

"All our experience since the beginning of this year has made clear just how important a good government is to fight Covid-19, support the economy, and get out of this crisis intact. This is what this election is about – whom do you trust to get you through the very difficult times ahead."

Mr Lee gave an overview of how Singapore has managed to get to a stable Covid-19 situation. Without a team of capable ministers working closely together, the government would not have been able to implement the anti-Covid-19 measures required, and would have lost the confidence of Singaporeans, he said.

Opposition parties "show no recognition that we are facing the crisis of a generation", he charged, claiming that they have been silent on how to tackle Covid-19. He asked what contribution they would be able to make in Parliament if elected, and what would happen to Singapore if the opposition formed the government.

Your feedback is important to us

Tell us what you think. Email us at btuserfeedback@sph.com.sg

The second major challenge is the economy, with the government having moved decisively to tackle the historic economic crisis resulting from the pandemic, he said. But beyond emergency budgetary and legislative measures, Singapore must maintain international confidence in the country, so it can continue to attract investments and create jobs.

Mr Lee recounted how foreign investors remained prepared to invest in Singapore during the 1985 recession, due to their confidence in the workforce, the tripartite relationship, the public service, government ministers, and public support for the government.

"Maintaining this high reputation is a matter of survival for all of us," he said, adding that the world is watching this GE.

"Will we show the world that Singaporeans are still one united people, strongly supporting the leaders they have chosen, and working together to overcome the crisis? Or will we reveal ourselves to be fractious and divided, withholding our full support from the government we have elected, in a crisis where swift, decisive action is vital to save jobs and lives?"

"Investors will scrutinise the election results, and act on their conclusions," he said, adding that this is why the PAP is seeking a strong mandate.

The opposition's calls for a minimum wage or universal basic income "are fashionable peacetime slogans, not serious wartime plans", he said. A minimum wage will not help the unemployed, and "all the GST (goods and services tax) increases in the world" will not be enough to pay for a universal basic income.

He urged voters not to "confuse signals" by voting for the opposition even if they truly want a PAP MP (Member of Parliament) to look after their constituency and town council, and a PAP government to look after Singapore.

He also pledged that he and older colleagues such as Senior Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as the younger fourth generation ministers, will see this crisis through. "I am determined to hand over Singapore, intact and in good working order, to the next team."

Monday's digital rally began with archival footage of past Fullerton rallies, and ended with Mr Lee's musings on his own political journey - from his first Fullerton rally 36 years ago – and the transformation of the surrounding area, with the development of Marina Bay.

"If we all work together and build well, generation after generation, then another 36 years from now, the Fullerton rally will be held in a vastly transformed Singapore, and future Singaporeans – today’s young ones – can be proud of what they have built," he concluded.

For more of our Singapore GE2020 coverage, go to bt.sg/ge2020 

BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to t.me/BizTimes