Singapore—In his seventh Fullerton Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called voters to remember crises in the past that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has brought the country through. He told voters that what this year’s General Election (GE) is all about is who they can trust to see them through the current coronavirus pandemic, which he called “the crisis of a generation.”
PM Lee said, “Do not undermine a system that has served you well.”
He called this year’s election a historic one, as the country still grapples with the current health and economic crises, adding that ministers have had to make hard decisions over the past months that they are held accountable for.
The Prime Minister used the recent Circuit Breaker as an example, saying that National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and the other ministers “acted just in time” to prevent a major outbreak and the loss of lives. He also warned that a second global wave of the pandemic is not impossible.
He pointed out that the opposition has not tackled the coronavirus crisis, saying they have been completely silent in the past six months and during the campaign period. If voted in, he asked, “What contribution will they make in Parliament? What will happen if they form the Government?”
PM Lee also talked about the enormous challenge ahead concerning the economy, emphasizing Singapore must maintain the confidence and trust it has in the global community. As a young minister in 1985, he was tasked with chairing the committee tackling Singapore’s negative economic growth. Once the country’s economic situation stabilised, he went on “a marketing pitch all over the world” and showed a full page advertisement from the Wall Street Journal that read, “Who would be mad enough to invest in Singapore in a recession?” This was signed by nine global heads of multinationals such as Apple and Motorola, several of which, the Prime Minister said, are still in Singapore today.
Singapore had gained trust from multinational companies because it has “the best workforce in the world,” as well as a working tripartite relationship of workers’ unions, employers and the Government, perceived to be “partners in progress.” The aim of the Government today is to maintain that trust in order to ensure continuous investments into the country. “Otherwise, we will just fade away and be forgotten,” he said, “like so many city-states.”
“The world,” he added, “is watching this election closely. Will we show the world that Singaporeans are still one united people, strongly supported by 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 and decisive actions are vital to save jobs and lives? Investors will scrutinize election results and act on their conclusions.”
The PAP is seeking Singaporeans’ strong mandate to lead the country out of the crisis. And when the party makes promises, it delivers, he said, citing the six decades of service to Singapore. As opposed to the opposition, said PM Lee, who has only come up with “old, recycled manifestos.”
And as for choice, PM Lee said that countries that change their governments regularly end up more unstable. “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” he quoted, asking voters not to be taken in by the possibility of having more choices.
“Your future is at stake,” he added.
The Prime Minister ended his speech by saying that he is determined to hand over Singapore “intact and in good working order” to the next team of leaders.
He appealed to all Singaporeans: “Now, to get through this crisis, I need your help. I cannot do it alone. I need the strongest team we can find to work with me and with you. I also need full support from all of you.
Have no fear, and instead, be confident. Singapore will endure this searching trial. We will be tested, but we will not be found wanting.” —/TISG