Sunday, 21 June 2020

National Broadcast: DPM Heng Swee Keat on Emerging Stronger Together from COVID-19

DPM Heng spells out plans for Singapore to emerge stronger after COVID-19 crisis
Robust response to crisis with past reserves tapped; present generation must 'build back better' for future
By Tham Yuen-C, Senior Political Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday made a rallying call to Singaporeans, saying that this generation will respond to the COVID-19 crisis, emerge from it stronger, and "build back better" for the future.

Underpinning this is the partnership between the Government and the people, which has become more critical than ever in the face of the twin threats of a pandemic and recession, he said in a televised address from The Treasury building.

Capping the series of six national broadcasts by ministers on the country's post-coronavirus future, he unveiled plans for Singaporeans and the Government to shape the future together.

A sum of $20 billion will be set aside to support basic and applied research, along with a series of innovation challenges to rally people to pioneer solutions for some of the world's major challenges.

Industry-led alliances have been formed to prototype ideas that can become new avenues of growth, while ideas from Singaporeans will be turned into solutions through new networks that bring together partners from different sectors.

Already, the Government has marshalled almost $100 billion in support measures to mount a robust response to what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has described as "the crisis of a generation".

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said: "I never expected to put up four Budgets, one after another, within just 100 days. Never before in our history have we done so... Had we not done so, we would have lost years of progress and an entire generation."



More than half of the war chest had come from the country's past reserves, painstakingly built up by the previous generations.

"So let us remember - once we have recovered from this crisis, our generation must build back better," he added.

Amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore will face its worst economic contraction to date and Mr Heng acknowledged people's anxiety over their livelihoods.

He said saving jobs is the Government's top priority, and it will do so by helping viable companies survive so they can keep their workers, and also by transforming the economy so more and better jobs can be created.



In the earlier broadcasts, PM Lee and the other ministers had laid out the Government's plans, explaining how it would deal with the virus, help Singapore navigate a more fractious world, transform its economy and create opportunities, as well as deepen the social compact and care for the vulnerable.

In his address to the nation, Mr Heng sketched out how all this would be jointly realised as "Singapore Together", inviting all Singaporeans to join in these efforts.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who had overseen several national engagement sessions and launched the citizens engagement movement named Singapore Together last year, said the Government has started a new series of Emerging Stronger Conversations to hear from people about how the pandemic has affected them and how to overcome the challenges.



Mr Heng also set out the work that the fourth generation ministers have been focusing on, and promised that the Government is committed to safeguarding everything that Singaporeans hold dear.

He said the Government has the will and the way to lead the country out of the crisis and added that the actions in the next five to 10 years will chart Singapore's course for decades to come.

"We will fight COVID-19 as Singapore Together. Everyone counts, and can be counted on... We will overcome this crisis of our generation. We will be a generation that emerges stronger. Together, we will be the generation that sets our children and their children onto a path to an even brighter future."















Securing jobs top priority, most urgent task: DPM Heng Swee Keat
Govt focused on helping to safeguard workers, creating better jobs by investing in the future
By Tham Yuen-C, Senior Political Correspondent, The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

Safeguarding jobs, and creating better ones, is the Government's top priority.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday made this plain when he said that the Government is doing its best to help viable businesses to stay afloat, so they can hold on to their workers for as long as possible.

Speaking in the last of the series of six national broadcasts by ministers on Singapore's future after COVID-19, DPM Heng said: "Our most urgent task now is jobs. Your job is our top priority.

"Because jobs are the most direct way for every Singaporean to improve our lives and support our loved ones."

Those workers hardest hit by the pandemic, including people who are self-employed and low-wage workers, will also be given support, and employers and unions will also be roped in to boost these efforts.

Even then, warned Mr Heng, job losses cannot be avoided, and some, and perhaps even many, will still lose their rice bowls.

The other prong, therefore, lies in pushing ahead with the economic transformation that had begun before the crisis, to create new and better jobs, he said.

The National Jobs Council has started work to oversee the creation of 100,000 jobs and training opportunities in a big push to create as many jobs as possible, said DPM Heng. "We are determined not to lose a generation of workers and youth," he added.

He pledged that the Government will go even further, to strengthen the economy through building connections to new global nodes to boost job prospects.

"This is what distinguishes us from other countries. All countries, including us, are providing immediate support, to provide a cushion. But we are going further, investing to give everyone a springboard, to bounce back from this even stronger. In Singapore, we never stop thinking of tomorrow," said DPM Heng.

To succeed at this task, he added, Singapore will need to master the major trends reshaping the global economy - the coronavirus has driven home the importance of resilience and reliability, accelerated the shift to digitalisation, and also transformed the way people live and work.

He outlined three ways that the Government will help businesses and workers thrive in this post-COVID-19 world.

First is to remain committed to the free flow of goods, services, capital, data, ideas and talent, even as other countries close up.

"Do not doubt this: Singapore must always remain an open, trading nation. We are finished if we close up," said DPM Heng.

Second is to continue to invest in infrastructure even if it means delaying some projects.

It is important because "such projects keep us connected to the world, makes travelling within Singapore faster and more pleasant, and gives us all beautiful homes", he said.

Third is to invest in research and innovation to sharpen Singapore's competitiveness.

Towards this end, he announced that as Singapore finalises its research and development plan for the next five years, over $20 billion will be set aside to support basic and applied research in high-impact areas, such as health and biomedical sciences, climate change, and artificial intelligence.

Along with this, a series of Innovation Challenges will be launched to encourage people to pioneer solutions for some of the world's major challenges.



At the same time, the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, set up last month to make the most of the new opportunities in the post-COVID-19 world, will also set up the Singapore Together Alliances for Action.

The target is for these industry-led alliances to quickly come up with new ideas and projects within the coming months - in areas such as robotics, e-commerce and environmental sustainability, among others - which can become new shoots of growth and generate new jobs.

"The task force is consulting widely, and involving people from a wide spectrum of society, while putting ideas into action quickly," he said.

Making these announcements yesterday, DPM Heng said Singapore has a head start as the country had begun transforming its economy five years ago to prepare for the future.

He stressed that the effort to grow the economy is not just to create jobs but to create better jobs for Singaporeans, and the Government will provide training to prepare people for these jobs, as well as strengthen the education system.

"This is how we will keep the promise of progress alive for all," he said.















Singapore Together Alliances for Action: New industry-led alliances created to pursue growth, generate new jobs in seven key areas
By Fabian Koh, The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

Industry-led coalitions have been formed in seven key growth areas, including robotics and environmental sustainability, to devise ideas for projects and generate new jobs, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

These Singapore Together Alliances for Action - partnerships between industry players and the Government - will aim to rapidly prototype new ideas in a bid to grow the Republic's economy.

They were set up by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, which the Government convened in May to help Singapore seize new opportunities in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing the nation in the sixth and final ministerial broadcast on Singapore's post-COVID-19 future, Mr Heng said the industry-led alliances will explore and execute new ideas in the coming months in seven areas.

These are robotics, e-commerce, environmental sustainability, digitalisation of supply chains and the built environment, education technology as well as enabling safe travel and tourism.

"The key is speed and agility. Successful projects will become new shoots of growth, and generate new jobs," he said.

The alliances will generate ideas in a three-month period, and share preliminary results and next steps later this year. The task force will then determine which ideas and focus areas can be scaled up.



Elaborating on the seven growth areas, the task force said digitalisation has been a key thrust of industry transformation blueprints under the Future Economy Council's Built Environment (BE) cluster.

It noted that the COVID-19 crisis has increased collaboration across all parts of the BE value chain.

There is thus an opportunity to raise productivity by speeding up digitalisation in areas from concept and design to construction and site management.

The second alliance will look at education technology.

The adoption of such technology has been accelerated by the pandemic, in areas from home-based learning to online professional education and training.

"This is an opportunity for Singapore to take our education and human capital brand global," said the task force.

A third alliance will focus on enabling safe and innovative visitor experiences, given how COVID-19 has fundamentally changed travel and tourism.

Singapore must find new ways to enable safe transit, business and leisure travel and tourism as the world returns to a new normal, to ensure it remains a global-Asia node and a leading hub for business and enterprise in the Asia-Pacific, said the task force.

The fourth alliance is focused on creating a smart commerce ecosystem that blends digital and physical retail, and allows local stores to tap the global consumer market.

"Such a system would require the complete reimagination of the online and offline shopping experience," said the task force.

COVID-19 has accelerated e-commerce adoption among consumers and retailers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it said.

It added that physical retail is likely to remain, owing to the convenience of neighbourhood stores and retail hubs situated next to transport nodes such as MRT stations and bus interchanges.

The fifth alliance will look at robotics, as Singapore pursues higher productivity and navigates manpower challenges.

"At the centre of this is the use of technology and robotics solutions to improve productivity, transform existing jobs and create new ones, generate spin-offs for SMEs, and drive economic growth," said the task force.

Singapore also has to adopt innovative solutions to minimise social contact and maintain high health standards during the pandemic, in areas that range from cleaning and construction robots to autonomous healthcare and public land transport systems, it said.

The sixth alliance will focus on the digitalisation of supply chains.

"Digitalisation of global supply chains has been uneven and hampered by low adoption, lack of data sharing, and a preponderance of different platforms," said the task force.

With growing concerns over supply chain resilience and a likely shift towards regionalised supply chains after the pandemic, there will be an increased demand for end-to-end adoption of such technology, it said.

This provides an opportunity to advance the use of digitalisation technology among local logistics, regulatory and financial players as well as cargo owners.

Finally, the task force said the focus on sustainability and environmental, social and governance standards is likely to increase post-COVID-19. Singapore could become a centre for such solutions and services, serving both local and global demand, it added.

The services can leverage Singapore's strengths in policy frameworks, technology, and financial and legal ecosystems, said the task force.















New Emerging Stronger Conversations will allow Government to hear from Singaporeans on COVID-19 lessons: Heng
By Yuen Sin, The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

To provide a platform for Singaporeans to reflect on their experiences during the pandemic, and hear from them on potential action to improve society, the Government will start a series of dialogue sessions, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

"We want to hear how the crisis has impacted you, and how we can work together on your ideas to take Singapore forward...True to the spirit of Singapore Together, these conversations will lead to action," said Mr Heng, who was speaking in a national televised broadcast - the final one in a series of six by Cabinet ministers on the country's post-COVID-19 future.



The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said in a statement yesterday that the dialogues, called Emerging Stronger Conversations, will be convened from this month to September.

New networks will be formed as well, to bring together community partners and the Government to devise solutions to key issues that surface from these dialogues.

These Singapore Together Action Networks will draw on ideas from partners across different sectors, and turn them into new solutions to help take Singapore forward, Mr Heng said.

"We will form new partnerships around issues that you care about, and to make a difference through action," he added.

Some of these networks have already been formed, he said. They include those that help disadvantaged students, support vulnerable families and address mental well-being among young people.

More will be created when key issues emerge from the Emerging Stronger Conversations.

These issues will determine the number and composition of these networks. The networks will bring together diverse people from the Government, community and businesses to collaborate and deliver ideas and solutions together, said the MCCY spokesman.

The Emerging Stronger Conversations - which will be part of the broader Singapore Together consultation exercise - will allow participants to reflect on their experiences during the COVID-19 crisis, and explore how Singapore can become a more caring, cohesive and resilient society.

The sessions will first be run online, until face-to-face gatherings can take place safely.

MCCY said the Government is "committed to engaging widely across different stakeholders".

Its spokesman noted that the shared experience of COVID-19 will shape the attitudes and worldview of an entire generation, and has also brought to the fore issues such as work practices, digital inclusion and mental wellness.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, had first mooted the Singapore Together movement - a key plank of his collaborative approach to governance - in June last year.

Back then, he said he and other ministers would work with Singaporeans to design and implement solutions across a range of issues and policy areas.

These include environmental sustainability, housing, youth and social mobility.

During his speech yesterday, he recounted a question by a participant at the first Emerging Stronger Conversation held a few days ago, on what Singapore and Singaporeans will be known for in the world.

The answer to this, he said, can be seen all around - school children sending messages to encourage front-line workers; social agencies, charities, and volunteers supporting the vulnerable; religious groups adapting to new forms of worship; and businesses returning funding for the Jobs Support Scheme as they are doing well.

He urged Singaporeans to build on this spirit of solidarity.

In the worst of times, Singapore has also seen the best in its people, Mr Heng added, noting that the country commemorated its bicentennial last year.

"Across 200 years of sweeping change, we grew from Singapore to Singaporeans. Today, less than 200 days into what will be a long-drawn fight, we are again showing the world who we are.

"We care for one another, we are generous and resilient, and we will not hesitate to make sacrifices for the greater good. These shared experiences will be etched in our collective memories."



Reiterating a point made by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his national broadcast on Wednesday, Mr Heng said Singapore must continue to strengthen its culture of solidarity.

The COVID-19 crisis has revealed vulnerabilities in society, like seniors who have found it hard to use digital tools and services, he said.

There are also those who are unable to cope with the emotional and psychological stresses that arose from the pandemic. In response, new schemes were launched to address these issues.

Said Mr Heng: "The Government will continue to support you fully and mobilise Singaporeans to support one another... Be assured that, in Singapore, no one will be left to walk alone.

"You will be cared for if you fall on hard times. You will be part of our society's progress, no matter your starting point or circumstances."










Singapore must remain open, reliable and resilient in a changing world
By Fabian Koh, The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic will reshape the world, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, adding that the global economy and geopolitics will change faster than ever.

For Singapore to succeed, it has to master the major trends reshaping the global economy and speed up the transformation of its own economy, he said yesterday.

In the sixth and final national televised broadcast on Singapore's post-COVID-19 future, he noted that resilience and reliability will be more valued, and Asia is likely to remain a bright spot.

"The shift to digital will accelerate. The way we live and work will be transformed. We must support our businesses and workers to ride on these trends, and reimagine our economy for a post-COVID future," he said.

Singapore, he said, is a major trading nation and key aviation and maritime hub.

The country is committed to the free flow of goods, services, capital, data, ideas and talent, he added.

"In a more fractious post-COVID world, whatever the rest of the world does, we will persist to find new links to enable these flows, especially in connecting critical supply lines around the world," he said.

"Do not doubt this: Singapore must always remain an open, trading nation. We are finished if we close up," he cautioned.



Mr Heng said Singapore will also continue to strengthen its resilience, such as through the "30 by 30" food production plan.

The ambitious project to produce 30 per cent of the country's nutritional needs locally by 2030 is being overseen by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

Referencing a point that Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean had made in his earlier broadcast on how foreign policy begins at home, Mr Heng said: "The stronger we are at home - as an economy, as a society, as one people - the more secure our place in the world."

"Our strengths at home will enable us to be a valuable member in the community of nations," added Mr Heng.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will continue to keep Singapore's flag flying high, he said, adding that the Republic can play a useful role globally and regionally in trade, innovation, rule of law, action on climate change as well as pandemic management.

"A trusted and reliable Singapore, relevant to the world, will in turn attract investments into Singapore," he said. "And give Singaporeans an edge in seeking opportunities at home or abroad. This Singapore premium is precious."





Emerging stronger together
The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

This is the transcript of Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat's ministerial broadcast yesterday on emerging stronger together. It is the sixth and final ministerial broadcast on life after COVID-19.




These last few months have been difficult for everyone. We could not celebrate Easter, Vesak Day, Hari Raya Puasa and Mother's Day like we usually do. I know many of you are happy that we can have small gatherings for Father's Day.

Happy Father's Day!

It was not an easy decision to impose the circuit breaker, but we had to do it to protect lives. We all had to make sacrifices. Let me express our heartfelt appreciation to our brave healthcare and front-line workers for working tirelessly to keep us safe. Our thanks also to the many others who worked behind the scenes to keep our essential services going.

Because of your sacrifices and hard work, COVID-19 is under control, and we are now able to resume a large part of our daily lives.

Thank you.

Let us continue to stay vigilant. The pandemic is still raging around the world, with more than eight million infected so far. The reopening of countries has surfaced new waves of infections. And the global economy is headed for its deepest downturn since the Great Depression. Our way of life, our livelihoods and our future are at stake.

When will the crisis end? Nobody can be sure. There is profound uncertainty - about how the pandemic will evolve, and how our livelihoods will be disrupted. I understand your anxiety.

Some ask: Will I lose my job? And if I lose my job, can I find a new job?

Will our children still have a bright future? Will my business survive?

FACING THE CRISIS OF OUR GENERATION

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called this "the crisis of a generation". Indeed, this is our worst economic contraction in decades. We experienced record decline in the number of people employed in the first quarter of this year. I never expected to put up four Budgets, one after another, within just 100 days. Never before in our history have we done so. We have committed almost $100 billion, with more than half from our past reserves.

We are mounting a robust response. Had we not done so, we would have lost years of progress and an entire generation. We are very grateful to our past generations, whose blood, sweat and tears left us with these deep financial reserves.

So let us remember - once we have recovered from this crisis, our generation must build back better.

Over the past two weeks, you have heard PM and my colleagues lay out what we stand for, and our plans - how to deal with the virus, navigate a more fractious world, build our economic strength, create opportunities for all, deepen our social compact, and care for the vulnerable.

This is our promise: We shall not only overcome this crisis. We will emerge from it stronger - as an economy, as a society, and as a people.



EMERGING STRONGER FROM CRISIS

COVID-19 will reshape the world. Ministers Gan Kim Yong and Lawrence Wong are leading our national efforts to battle this pandemic. We must learn to live with this virus for some time. The global economy and geopolitics will change, faster than ever.

To emerge stronger, we must draw on the wits and will of our people. When we launched the Singapore Together movement a year ago, I promised that we would partner Singaporeans to shape our future together.

Now, in this crisis, partnership is more critical than ever. Together, we will take decisive action to support every Singaporean to emerge stronger from this crisis. Our economy will emerge stronger, creating better jobs and business opportunities for all Singaporeans. And our society will emerge stronger, leaving no one to walk this journey alone. We will emerge stronger as one people, our sense of identity and values renewed.

SUPPORTING EVERY SINGAPOREAN

Our most urgent task now is jobs. Your job is our top priority. Because jobs are the most direct way for every Singaporean to improve our lives and support our loved ones. As our labour movement puts it: "A job is the best welfare for our people." We are doing our best to keep viable businesses afloat, helping them hold on to their workers for as long as possible, so that you can preserve your livelihoods.

The pandemic has hit some harder than others. So we are providing more support to cushion the impact for those hardest hit. For example, for our workers who have lost their jobs or a large part of their income, the COVID-19 Support Grant helps with their immediate needs.

This is the first time that we are extending direct cash support to self-employed workers on a large scale. We are paying special attention to our lower-wage workers. Workfare recipients will soon get an additional special payment to tide them through the crisis. Beyond that, we will work with employers and unions to enhance their career prospects.

But despite our utmost efforts, some - perhaps even many - will lose their jobs. We are therefore making a big push to create as many new jobs as possible. The National Jobs Council has started work, to oversee the creation of 100,000 jobs and training opportunities under the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package. We will work with companies, and invest in our people.

We are determined not to lose a generation of workers and youth. We will need a stronger economy - dynamic and inclusive, resilient and innovative, connected to new global nodes in Asia and the world - so that we can create more jobs offering better prospects for workers, and our workers can climb higher up the skills ladder.

This is what distinguishes us from other countries. All countries, including us, are providing immediate support, to provide a cushion. But we are going further, investing to give everyone a springboard, to bounce back from this even stronger.

In Singapore, we never stop thinking of tomorrow. To succeed, we need to master the major trends reshaping the global economy, and speed up the structural transformation of our economy. With COVID-19, resilience and reliability will be more valued, Asia is likely to remain a bright spot.

The shift to digital will accelerate. The way we live and work will be transformed. We must support our businesses and workers to ride on these trends, and reimagine our economy for a post-COVID future.

And we will do so in three ways.

(1) We are a major trading nation, and a key aviation and maritime hub, committed to the free flow of goods, services, capital, data, ideas and talent. In a more fractious post-COVID world, whatever the rest of the world does, we will persist to find new links to enable these flows, especially in connecting critical supply lines around the world.

Do not doubt this: Singapore must always remain an open, trading nation. We are finished if we close up.

(2) We will continue investing in our infrastructure, even if we need to delay some projects. Such projects keep us connected to the world, make travelling within Singapore faster and more pleasant, and give us all beautiful homes.

We will strengthen our resilience, such as through our "30 by 30" food production plan, which Minister Masagos Zulkifli is overseeing. We will also rejuvenate our island into a cleaner and greener Singapore, and a city in nature for our people to enjoy.

(3) Our investments in research and innovation will sharpen our competitiveness.

We are finalising our R&D plan for the next five years. We will set aside over $20 billion to support basic and applied research in high impact areas, such as health and biomedical sciences, climate change and artificial intelligence. We will launch a series of Innovation Challenges to rally our people to pioneer solutions for some of the world's major challenges.

Singapore continues to be one of the most competitive economies in the world.

Thankfully, we started transforming for the future economy five years ago. Our businesses and unions partnered the Government to develop and implement Industry Transformation Maps for each industry. Minister Chan Chun Sing outlined how our transformation is progressing well, and how we will press on.

To make the most of new opportunities in the post-COVID world, we set up the Emerging Stronger Taskforce in May. The task force is consulting widely, and involving people from a wide spectrum of society, while putting ideas into action quickly.

For a start, we will set up Singapore Together Alliances for Action. These alliances will be led by industry, with each prototyping new ideas within the coming months, in areas such as robotics, e-commerce, environmental sustainability, digitalisation of supply chains and the built environment.

The key is speed and agility. Successful projects will become new shoots of growth, and generate new jobs. This effort to grow our economy is not just to create jobs, but to create better jobs for Singaporeans. Ministers Josephine Teo, Ng Chee Meng and Ong Ye Kung are working hard to make this happen. We will better prepare you to take on these jobs through the SkillsFuture movement.

We will also continue to strengthen our education system, to keep "every school a good school", and to create multiple pathways to success. This is how we will keep the promise of progress alive for all.



EMERGING STRONGER AS A SOCIETY

As we build a stronger economy, we must also strengthen our society. To ensure that no Singaporean is left behind, we must strengthen our culture of solidarity, as Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam says. The circuit breaker has revealed vulnerabilities in our midst.

Some of our seniors found it hard to use digital tools and services. So Minister S. Iswaran launched the Seniors Go Digital programme, working with community partners, to help our seniors bridge the digital divide.

We must also reach out to those who cannot quite cope with new stresses. To provide emotional and psychological support, we launched the National Care Hotline, with help from many volunteers. The Government will continue to support you fully, and mobilise Singaporeans to support one another. Ministers Grace Fu, Indranee Rajah and Desmond Lee will oversee these efforts. Be assured that, in Singapore, no one will be left to walk alone.

You will be cared for if you fall on hard times. You will be part of our society's progress, no matter your starting point or circumstances.

COVID-19 has sharpened our sense of purpose, and brought us closer together as a society. We want to hear how the crisis has impacted you, and how we can work together on your ideas to take Singapore forward. So we have started a series of Emerging Stronger Conversations. True to the spirit of Singapore Together, these conversations will lead to action. We will set up Singapore Together Action Networks to bring together partners across different sectors, and turn ideas into new solutions.

We have already begun forming these networks, such as the Youth Mental Well-being Network, UPLIFT and the SG Cares Community Care Network. We will form new partnerships around issues that you care about, and to make a difference through action.



EMERGING STRONGER AS ONE PEOPLE

At the first Emerging Stronger Conversation a few days back, someone asked: "What will Singapore and Singaporeans be known for in the world?" We can see the answer around us.

Our schoolchildren sending messages to encourage our healthcare and front-line workers. Our social agencies, charities, youth and volunteers supporting our vulnerable - lonely seniors, persons with special needs, and migrant workers. Our religious groups praying in new ways, to keep everyone safe, and supporting people with needs. Our businesses returning funding for the Jobs Support Scheme because they are doing well, and are rewarding their workers, and making contributions to social causes. We see Singaporeans from all walks of life, trusting in and caring for one another.

Let us build on this. Let us collect the stories of kindness and courage, the stories of everyday heroes, and tell and retell them. Let our children reflect and deepen our "values in action", so that they grow up united and resilient, and go forward in solidarity and with fortitude.

In the worst of times, we see the best in our people. We commemorated our Bicentennial last year. Across 200 years of sweeping change, we grew from Singapore to Singaporeans. Today, less than 200 days into what will be a long-drawn fight, we are again showing the world who we are. We care for one another, we are generous and resilient, and we will not hesitate to make sacrifices for the greater good. These shared experiences will be etched in our collective memories.

Above all, as Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean reminded us, the stronger we are at home - as an economy, as a society, as one people - the more secure our place in the world. Our strengths at home will enable us to be a valuable member in the community of nations.

Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his team will continue to keep the Singapore flag flying high. We can play a useful role in the regional and global community - in trade, innovation, rule of law, action on climate change, or pandemic management. A trusted and reliable Singapore, relevant to the world, will in turn attract investments into Singapore. And give Singaporeans an edge in seeking opportunities at home or abroad. This Singapore premium is precious.

A democracy of deeds, a society in action, one people working in unison, confident of our place in the world - this is Singapore Together. I invite all Singaporeans and friends of Singapore to join us in this effort.

Through this series of broadcasts, you have heard PM and my colleagues lay out our plans. We are committed to growing our economy and protecting jobs, strengthening our society, and safeguarding everything we hold dear.

Our journey ahead is long, and our actions in the next five to 10 years will chart the course of our nation for decades to come. Where there are winds of change, we must find new waves of opportunity. Each of us must adapt and learn fast in this changed world, turn anxiety into action, turn challenges into opportunities. As we move forward, we will deepen our trust and support for one another.

I have every confidence that we will succeed. This Government has the will and the way to lead us out of this crisis. We will face the challenges ahead together with you, all the way. We will fight COVID-19 as Singapore Together. Everyone counts, and can be counted on. We will do what it takes to protect our lives and our livelihoods, to secure our future.

We will overcome this crisis of our generation. We will be a generation that emerges stronger. Together, we will be the generation that sets our children and their children onto a path to an even brighter future!

Thank you.





What Singapore needs post-COVID-19
By Zakir Hussain, News Editor, The Sunday Times, 21 Jun 2020

Over the past two weeks, six Cabinet ministers have outlined how the Government plans to see Singapore through the current crisis and emerge stronger.

Capping the series of national broadcasts last night, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat made this promise: Singapore will emerge stronger as an economy, as a society, and as a united people.

It is a bold promise, coming at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety about the future. But Singapore, like many countries hit by COVID-19, faces unprecedented challenges: a looming recession, likely the worst since independence; the prospect of significant unemployment; the need to protect and save jobs and businesses and help Singaporeans.

Mr Heng has had to present four Budgets in the space of 100 days, requiring a commitment of almost $100 billion, half of it drawing on past reserves.

Amid this uncertainty, he and Cabinet colleagues have maintained a confidence that Singapore will not only ride through and overcome the crisis, but emerge in a far better position to make its way in a post-COVID new global order.

One key thread running through the broadcasts was that Singapore has built up strengths over the years that are hard to replicate. Another is that the people have played their part in adjusting and responding to challenges over the years.

What was not explicitly said is that the Government has had the support of Singaporeans to overcome past crises and, having laid down a blueprint for how to navigate through the current crisis and move ahead, it hopes they will provide that support once more at the upcoming general election.

Here is a recap of the broadcasts:



On June 7, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that the measures being taken cannot shield Singapore from the tectonic shifts taking place in the global economy and geopolitics. "Despite these immense challenges, I say to you: Do not fear. Do not lose heart. Singapore will not falter in its onward march," he said.

He cited Singapore's economic strengths and trusted international reputation, the head start it has had, as well as the plans and programmes it has in place. He added that a key ingredient is the unity and resilience of the people.

"Many Singaporeans have stepped up during this crisis. They have become more, not less, than themselves," he added. "These acts of solidarity and human kindness exemplify the best in us. They show how we can emerge stronger from this crisis, with a sharper consciousness of being Singaporean."



On June 9, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong elaborated on how Singaporeans will have to change the way they live and work.

He also spoke of how COVID-19 has brought out the best in Singaporeans, with many going the extra mile to look out for the vulnerable. "It is our grit and resilience, our compassion and kindness, our cohesion and strength that will see us through this crisis of our generation," he added.



On June 11, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean spoke of how COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of having deep reserves of finances, people and capabilities.

"Singapore can hold its own in the world, only if we are strong, successful and united at home," he said. "We can face the world outside with confidence only if we are strong inside."

This unity has come in handy during the circuit breaker, he noted: "We have avoided the fissures that have divided some other countries, fissures that have hindered their ability to respond properly, and cost them lives and livelihoods."



In the fourth broadcast last Sunday, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing outlined how Singapore can still make a living and seize opportunities in these difficult times. This includes building on intangible strengths such as its trusted brand, and a united and stable society.

He also underlined how "this Government will ensure that every member of Team Singapore shares the benefits of growth... Many Singaporeans are concerned with foreign competition, but closing ourselves up is not the answer. We cannot escape competing with the world, and proving our mettle".

"We will give our workers the training and support to excel, and we will ensure that the competition is fair. This is the best way to improve the well-being of our people."



In the fifth broadcast last Wednesday, Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that while Singapore cannot defy the downturn, it must "absolutely defy" the loss of social cohesion, polarisation and despair that have taken hold in many other countries.

"No society remains cohesive simply because it used to be," he said as he outlined plans to build a stronger, more cohesive society. Hence the extensive efforts by the National Jobs Council to work with companies, sector by sector, to take on Singaporeans through temporary attachments and traineeships.

There is also a need to keep social mobility alive, strengthen the culture of solidarity, and systematically provide greater support for lower-and middle-income Singaporeans in order to build a fair and just society, he added.

Summing up these messages last night, Mr Heng sketched out how they will be developed and refined together with Singaporeans, and pledged that the Government will listen to what they have to say.

He invited Singaporeans to join in these efforts, saying: "To emerge stronger, we must draw on the wits and will of our people."

His speech comes just over a year after he launched the Singapore Together movement last June, which involves a significantly more participatory and collaborative approach to governance and policymaking.

The three new initiatives he announced last night take this a step further: The Emerging Stronger Taskforce is convening industry-led coalitions - Singapore Together Alliances for Action - to act on growth opportunities. A series of Emerging Stronger Conversations is being organised to discuss ideas with a broad spectrum of Singaporeans. Singapore Together Action Networks are being formed on key issues as they emerge.

Singapore is headed for a general election soon. These speeches have been seen by some as a platform for the Government to articulate its plans and programmes to lead Singapore out of the crisis, and beyond.

But even if this were not an election year, the articulation of its plans would still have been needed to reassure people, and lay out what the Government plans to do.



Mr Heng made clear what he and his colleagues hope for - that people step up, participate and take action to improve things and shape their society.

"This Government has the will and the way to lead us out of this crisis. We will face the challenges ahead together with you, all the way... We will fight COVID-19 as Singapore Together. Everyone counts, and can be counted on."

Expect this theme of unity, and emerging stronger together, to be a key plank of the People's Action Party's pitch to voters at the election: This is a government with plans to secure jobs, safeguard a generation and, crucially, work together with Singaporeans to remain united in a troubled world.




Related
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: Overcoming the Crisis of a Generation

Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong: Living with COVID-19

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean: Resilience in a Changing External Environment

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing: Making a Living in a COVID-19 World

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam: A Stronger and More Cohesive Society

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat: Emerging Stronger Together

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