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Singaporeans can rely on PAP to guide nation through Covid-19 crisis: PM Lee
SINGAPORE can rely on the People's Action Party (PAP) to guide it through the Covid-19 crisis, while securing the country's long-term future, Prime Minister and PAP secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong said at the launch of the party's manifesto, Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future, on Saturday morning.
In a normal election, the manifesto would focus on long-term ideas to improve and transform Singapore, from infrastructure, education, and healthcare to tackling climate change, he said, in a speech livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube. "In normal elections, what is usually of much less interest to voters is the routine business of keeping Singapore going,” he said.
But this election is different, with Singapore in the middle of the most severe global crisis in decades. Keeping Singapore going is now the most challenging and urgent priority for the government, said Mr Lee. "The central focus of this manifesto is how we will work together to overcome this crisis of a generation."
The manifesto sets out how the PAP will keep Singaporeans and migrant workers safe, and prevent Covid-19 from overwhelming the healthcare system; how to restart and transform the economy, save jobs and businesses, and reskill workers for new jobs; and how care and support will be provided.
Yet even while tackling these top-of-mind questions, the manifesto also sets out a vision for a long-term future.
"Beyond Covid-19 and jobs, Singaporeans will also want to know what longer term future you can look forward to. Where will Singapore be, in five, 10, 20 years’ time? After the crisis subsides, can Singapore resume our journey, onward and upward?"
The aim is not just to survive the storm, but to maintain the long-term direction for the country, said Mr Lee. "This is the manifesto of a responsible party and government. Singaporeans can rely on the PAP government, both to address your immediate needs, and also to work with you to secure your longterm future. What the PAP promises, the PAP will deliver."
To put this manifesto into action, the PAP needs the full support of Singaporeans, and "a strong, steady and capable leadership team" that has both experience and new ideas, and is dedicated and committed.
He noted that the PAP is fielding 27 new candidates this year - almost a third of its total slate for the 93 seats available, and more than in any previous election.
Though introduced over the last few days, most are already familiar to residents as they have been on the ground for some time, he said. They are proven in their respective fields, and committed to serving people, with some having also "taken harder roads to success".
Collectively, the new candidates "represent a wide range of life experiences and backgrounds", he said. "This is what makes the PAP the mainstream party in Singapore – a broad tent that occupies the middle ground, and represents the vast majority of Singaporeans."
Acknowledging that the candidates with the most challenging task are those standing in the opposition-held wards of Hougang SMC and Aljunied GRC, where they will face the incumbent Workers' Party, Mr Lee noted that the 2015 PAP candidates "fought extremely hard and performed very well" there, improving the party's vote share.
Since then, the PAP teams have been hard at work on the ground in Hougang and Aljunied, he said. "I hope Hougang and Aljunied voters will give them a chance to show what they can do."
About 20 MPs are retiring in this election, including Deputy Speaker Charles Chong - a veteran of narrow election wins - as well as Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Mr Lee did not name all the retiring MPs, but said: "I have no doubt that if they were to contest the coming GE, they would put up a strong showing. But they have agreed to step down, because they understand the need for self-renewal, and have put the party and nation before self. After the GE, we will create the occasion to properly express our deep appreciation to them."
GE2020 will be a tough election, he said. But after winning the people's mandate, the PAP will have a much bigger fight: to protect lives and livelihoods during this crisis, and beyond that, "to fight year after year, to keep Singapore successful and special for this and future generations".
"These battles can only be won if the PAP has the full support of Singaporeans, and Singapore has the strongest and most committed leadership team to take our nation forward," he concluded.
The print version of the manifesto, in four languages, will be distributed to households, while an electronic copy is available on the PAP website.
In facing the Covid-19 crisis, the manifesto sets out the PAP's plans for healthcare and the economy.
Healthcare plans include ensuring quality healthcare; ramping up Covid-19 testing and tracing; investing in research and development for Covid-19 treatments and vaccines and ensuring these are available to all Singaporeans who need them; improving public hygiene; and ensuring the health of migrant workers too.
On the jobs front, apart from support already being provided in the Jobs Support Scheme and other measures, the party will work to protect and create jobs, and equip Singaporeans to seize new opportunities. Beyond Covid-19, the PAP will work to transform the economy for a post-Covid world, supporting firms to change, and keeping connected internationally.
The manifesto also laid out plans to support families, pre-school children, students, seniors, and those with special education needs; expand healthcare capacity; improve social and financial resilience; enhance sustainability; and continue to realise mega infrastructure projects.
For more of our Singapore GE2020 coverage, go to bt.sg/ge2020