Lee calls for support from all Singaporeans in getting through COVID-19 crisis

Lianne Chia

SINGAPORE (CNA) – Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday urged Singaporeans to give him and his People’s Action Party (PAP) team their full support to get through the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic challenges.

“To get through this crisis, I need your help,” Lee said during the lunchtime online Fullerton rally.

“I cannot do it alone. I need the strongest team we can find, to work with me, and with you,” he added.

Lee, who is the PAP’s Secretary-General, stressed that “at this critical moment”, Singapore needs a capable government, with the “full support of a united people, more than ever”.

“Have no fear. Instead, be confident. Singapore will endure this searching trial. We will be tested but we will not be found wanting,” he said.

The PAP has held a rally near the Fullerton building in almost every General Election since independence. It is usually held after the mid-point of the campaign, Lee noted, saying it it an occasion to “pause, take stock of what has happened in the hustings so far, and refocus everyone’s minds on what is at stake”.

File photo shows People’s Action Party Secretary-General and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong fields questions from the media at a nomination centre ahead of the general election. PHOTO: AP

This election’s Fullerton rally was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Lee said that its purpose remains the same.

Lee said he did not expect to meet this “overwhelming crisis” in the last stretch of his premiership.

He added, however, that he is fortunate to have been elected by Singaporeans, and chosen by fellow ministers and MPs to lead the country through this difficult period.

Describing the COVID-19 pandemic as “the crisis of a generation” which is “more complex and more dangerous than any previous crisis”, Lee said Singapore’s response to the crisis will determine the future of the country.

“There can be no certainty that things will turn out well. But we must have the same unshakeable will to marshal all our energies and resources, to fight it together, prevail and emerge stronger,” he said.

“You have my word. Together with my older colleagues like Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as the 4G ministers, I will see this through,” he added.

“I am determined to hand over Singapore, intact and in good working order, to the next team.”

Lee said Singapore has gone through many difficult times – from the Asian financial crisis to 9/11 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.

“But each time the government led from the front, Singaporeans rallied, and we pulled through,” he added.

THE WORLD IS WATCHING CLOSELY

The PAP seeks a strong mandate from voters to lead Singapore through the COVID-19 crisis, Lee said, adding that the world is watching this election closely.

“Investors would scrutinise the election results and act on their conclusions. So will others, both friends and adversaries of Singapore,” he added.

“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?” he asked. “Or will we reveal ourselves to be fractious and divided, withholding our support from the government we have elected, in a crisis where swift, decisive action is vital to save jobs and lives?”

He added that the opposition has had “nothing to say” about getting Singapore out of the downturn, growing the economy or creating new jobs.

“They prattle on about the minimum wage or universal basic income,” he said. “These are fashionable peacetime slogans, not serious wartime plans.”

“Do you really want to vote for parties who, in a crisis, come up with nothing better than old recycled manifestos?” he asked.

Pointing to the series of national broadcasts made by various ministers last month, Lee pointed out that the PAP Government has sketched out the challenges Singapore is facing, and their plans to overcome them.

The PAP election manifesto, he added, has also set out its programme for residents.