Saturday, September 19

July 10 election ‘critical’ for Singapore — Lee Hsien Loong


SINGAPORE: The general election on July 10 is a “critical election” for Singapore as more challenges await the island republic and the world amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, according to People’s Action Party (PAP) Secretary-General Lee Hsien Loong.

“Hardly ever in our history have the stakes been higher than now. We are in the middle of a crisis but as tough as the past months have been, our biggest challenges lie ahead of us,” said Lee at the online Fullerton Rally here yesterday.

The prime minister of the caretaker government pointed out globally the number of Covid-19 cases continues to surge and no one knows how the pandemic would end or whether a lasting solution be found – be it a vaccine or more effective treatment.

Lee Hsien Yang (centre), the brother of Hsien Loong and a member of the opposition Progress Singapore Party, greets people during a walkabout ahead of the general election in Singapore. — AFP photo

“We face a continuing danger to public health. It will also weigh heavily on the economy, for perhaps a year if not longer,” he said.

Lee noted that all the experience since the beginning of the year has made clear just how important a good government is to fight Covid-19, support the economy, and get out of the crisis intact.

“This is what this election is about – whom do you trust to get you through the very difficult times ahead,” he said.

In almost every General Election since independence, the PAP has held a rally near Fullerton after the mid-point of the campaign and according to Lee, the rally this time around was “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.”

Due to Covid-19, the party cannot convene a physical Fullerton rally this year and had it virtually instead, but “my purpose is the same,” said Lee who had his first Fullerton Rally in 1984 when he entered politics 36 years ago at the age of 32.

Touching on his own political journey, Lee said within months of the election Singapore ran into the sharp recession in 1985 and then experienced the Asian Financial Crisis (1997-1999), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (2002-2004) and the Global Financial Crisis (2007-2008), among others.

“Each was a grave challenge,” he said, adding “what I did not expect…what no one expected…was to meet this overwhelming crisis in the last stretch of my premiership.”

Lee, who is the only one left from the class of 1984, said: “Covid-19 is the crisis of a generation. It is more complex and more dangerous than any previous crisis we have met.”

“Again, 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.”

Marking his word, Lee said together with his older colleagues like Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as the younger 4G ministers, he “will see this through.”

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