Fill Me In
With 2020 coming to a close, many of us are looking forward to better things to come in the year ahead — and that includes putting the pandemic behind us. Although Singapore has managed to end the year off on a fairly good note — with the arrival of COVID-19 vaccinations, and the commencement of Phase 3 — that’s not the end of our battle against the virus.
As we kickstart our activities for the year ahead, here’s what our national leaders and local politicians have to say about Singapore’s next steps.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
PM Lee gave a national message that was aired on television during the countdown programme on 31 December, where he recognised the country’s efforts in helping to stabilise the COVID-19 situation. “We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. But it will still take some time for enough people to be vaccinated before we are safe from another major uncontrolled outbreak. In the meantime, we must maintain discipline, and continue with safe distancing and all the other precautions that we have been taking,” he said.
He also acknowledged that although Singapore’s economic recovery will take some time to bounce back to pre-COVID levels, he assured viewers that the government is doing their best to support those who have been affected. “The Government has gone all out to support our workers and companies, to prevent massive job losses and business failures. We passed five Budgets, totalling close to $100 billion. We drew heavily on our past reserves to help businesses and workers through the Jobs Support Scheme, the Self-Employed Persons Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), the COVID-19 Support Grant, and many other schemes.”
Overall, PM Lee ended his address on a positive note, promising that he would work with his Cabinet to “continue deserving [Singaporeans’] trust, to keep on strengthening our social compact, to sustain the promise of Singapore as a fair and just society”. He also expressed his confidence in the country’s ability to emerge out of the crisis: “As long as we stay together as one Singapore, I am confident we will blaze a path forward.”
PM Lee’s full message can be viewed here.
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin
The Speaker of Parliament also expressed his hopes for Singapore’s government in a blog post. Aside from commending the collective efforts of Singaporeans and frontline workers, he also shared about how Parliament proceedings have changed because of the pandemic.
“As the Speaker of Parliament, I had to ensure that our Parliament continued to function effectively while ensuring safety for all. We adopted different ways of carrying out our roles and responsibilities, and Members of the 13th Parliament duly adjusted to the new safe distancing norms of sitting a few seats apart, wearing masks within the Chamber and also gathering in separate colour-coded spaces. This bears testimony to the essential and fundamental role Parliament must continue to play in our democracy with its law-making and fiscal responsibilities – in spite of, and I would say especially, in the face of national crises.”
In 2021, he also pledged to continue to ensure that “every MP who wishes to speak [will] have an equal opportunity to raise diverse and substantive viewpoints, and to raise concerns for a thorough and robust debate in the Chamber”, so that the House will be able to “strive towards improving Government policies and programmes to deliver better outcomes for Singapore and Singaporeans”.
Additionally, he also hopes to help the public better understand Singapore’s parliamentary processes by “plugging knowledge gaps” and “combating misinformation”, so that Singaporeans will be able to “better relate to the complexities that come into play in policy-making”.
Ending off his post, he encouraged Singaporeans to “transform and learn new things, and embrace any unexpected changes as opportunities to reflect and better position ourselves to thrive – not only as individuals and as a society, but also as a nation”.
Workers’ Party Secretary-General Pritam Singh
Addressing the public through a Facebook post, Pritam Singh thanked Singaporeans for their strength and resilience in 2020: “We have weathered this storm, and I am proud to be a member of a united people that will continue to stand firm in the face of the storms that lie ahead of us.”
He also expressed gratitude for citizens’ support of his Party during the General Elections, and unveiled the following goals for the Workers’ Party in the coming year, which include championing policy alternatives to meet the needs of Singaporeans, supporting Singaporeans on the ground with appeals, advice and aid, as well as “provide a trusted alternative to voters, and act as a balancing force to our political system”.