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Viral online: Lee Kuan Yew’s speech on Sars crisis in 2003

The similarities between the situation then and now during Covid-19 are many

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Singapore — A speech that founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew made in 2003 on an outbreak of Sars in the country is being widely shared online. The similarities between the situation at that point and what the country is facing now are many.

The speech was posted on the Mustsharenews Facebook page on Monday (June 1).

Lee Kuan Yew Post-SARS Speech

Months after the 2003 SARS outbreak, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew addressed a crowd regarding Singapore's recovery after the crisis.Watch how eerily similar many aspects were to the Covid-19 pandemic.Follow us on Telegram here: https://t.me/mustsharenews.

Posted by Mustsharenews.com on Monday, June 1, 2020

First of all, Mr Lee stressed how important it was for Singapore to face as one the health and economic crisis that Sars brought “regardless of race, language, or religion”. This year, the Government has underlined the same message of unity in the battle against Covid-19, with ministers often using the hashtags #SGUnited and #SingaporeTogether with their messages.

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Secondly, Mr Lee mentioned the “painful adjustments” Singaporeans had to make at that time, in the same way that today’s leaders are appealing for patience as the country adjusts to the “new normal” of living with Covid-19.

Mr Lee called Sars “a tremendous PR problem”, adding that the Government went through “an agonising, tearful, wrenching period”. In the same way, today’s leaders have had to deal with the myriad problems brought on Singapore by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The founding Prime Minister had added: “We had people who broke the quarantine, but we had a cooperative population. It was a population that knew that survival was at stake and cooperated with each other and with the Government.”

A statement that today’s leaders would agree also applied this time.

There was one great difficulty, Mr Lee had said. “In 1965 we were poor, we were hardworking, we were prepared to try anything. Today we have grown accustomed to a higher level of comfort and prosperity. So many find belt-tightening uncomfortable and the fear of unemployment makes everybody nervous.”

This is as true today as it was in 2003.

Mr Lee had also highlighted the need for older workers to get updated with their skills. The economic crisis brought on by Sars affected “white-collar workers, including middle management”.

There are equally serious employment concerns today.

Many Singaporeans who listened to the speech trending online have commented that they miss the founding Prime Minister. Mr Lee passed away in 2015 when he was 91 years old. 

Other comments, however, seemed to be throwing shade at the present government.

/TISG

Read also: Netizen asks what happened to Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a “wholly Singaporean workforce”

Netizen asks what happened to Lee Kuan Yew’s vision of a “wholly Singaporean workforce”?

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