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GE2020: PM Lee pledges to see S'pore through Covid-19 crisis and hand over with country ‘in good working order’

SINGAPORE — People’s Action Party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong, who is also Singapore’s prime minister, has pledged to see Singapore through the Covid-19 crisis before handing over the reins of the country to the next generation of leaders.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong, secretary-general of the People's Action Party, at a lunchtime online rally, July 6, 2020.

Mr Lee Hsien Loong, secretary-general of the People's Action Party, at a lunchtime online rally, July 6, 2020.

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SINGAPORE — People’s Action Party secretary-general Lee Hsien Loong, who is also the prime minister, has pledged to see Singapore through the Covid-19 crisis before handing over the reins of the country to the next generation of leaders.

“You have my word: Together with my older colleagues like Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as well as our younger fourth-generation (4G) ministers, I will see this through. I am determined to hand over Singapore, intact and in good working order, to the next team,” he said on Monday (July 6) during an online rally.

Mr Lee previously said that he hopes to step aside for the new leadership team before he turns 70. He is now 68.

Mr Lee was speaking on Monday at a lunchtime online rally, following a long PAP tradition of holding a lunchtime General Election rally at Fullerton Square. Due to Covid-19, the rally was streamed live online this time.

Covid-19 is the crisis of a generation, “more complex and dangerous than Singapore faced before”, with no certainty that things will turn out well, he said.

“But we must have the same unshakeable will to marshal all our energies and resources, to fight it together, prevail and emerge stronger. Our response in this crisis will determine the future of our country, and prospects for our children and grandchildren in Singapore,” he added.

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GE2020 will be Mr Lee’s ninth GE since he first entered politics in 1984 as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Teck Ghee Single Member Constituency. He said  last week that he does not know if GE2020 would be his last, due to Covid-19.

Recounting how a sharp recession in 1985 occurred within months of the 1984 GE, Mr Lee charted out his political career through several crises happening after that, including the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) pandemic in 2003, and the global financial crisis at the tailend of 2007.

Each crisis was a “grave challenge”, but the PAP Government led from the front, rallied Singaporeans and pulled through, he said.

Pointing out Singapore’s progress over the years, Mr Lee said that Singapore built all this up steadily despite the crises along the way.

“What I did not expect — what no one expected — was to meet this overwhelming (Covid-19) crisis in the last stretch of my premiership,” Mr Lee added.

“I count myself fortunate to have been elected by you, and chosen by my fellow ministers and MPs, to lead Singapore through this critical time.”

Turning emotional, he said: “If we all work together and build well, generation after generation, then another 36 years from now, the Fullerton rally will be held in a vastly transformed Singapore.”

Moving on to the topic of political leadership and renewal, Mr Lee said that he has worked hard to field the "strongest possible" PAP team for this election.

He noted that the slate is made up of an experienced team of capable ministers whom he has relied on to take care of Singaporeans through the crisis, seasoned MPs who look after residents and speak up for them in Parliament as well as new faces consisting promising leaders from all walks of life who will bring “new ideas” on tackling Singapore’s future challenges.

“You have seen our track record. If you think we have delivered, and made your life better, please vote for us. If you think we have not, then by all means vote us out,” he said.

“But do not confuse signals by voting Opposition if what you really want is a PAP MP to look after your constituency and town council, and a PAP Government to look after Singapore.”

Mr Lee noted that the Opposition has said it is offering Singaporeans insurance in case they need it. But he called on voters not to buy that argument, especially when they have reason to suspect that the Opposition cannot pay out on its insurance promise and its “cheques will bounce”.

“With the PAP, you know that when we promise anything, we will deliver,” he said, noting that the PAP had won the 1959 elections because it represented the national consensus and the people’s collective hopes for their future.

“After more than 60 years, this hasn’t changed. The PAP still reaches out broadly to the population. Our policies have improved people’s lives beyond measure,” he said.

“We have maintained trust with the people and we have renewed our leadership to keep the party vigorous and in sync with your aspirations.”

PM Lee added that the PAP believes in “political renewal, not political recycling”, recalling a term used by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong recently.

“I cannot say that such a state of affairs will last forever, but do not undermine a system that has served you well,” said Mr Lee.

“So I ask Singaporeans: Don't be taken in by those who say that it is important just to have more choices. Look carefully at the choices they offer you. Ask yourself if they can deliver, don’t be taken for a ride, your future is at stake.”

He added that the PAP has sketched out the challenges posed by Covid-19 and also its plans to overcome them. But turning these plans into reality will depend on voters giving the party a strong mandate.

Urging Singaporeans to support PAP, Mr Lee said that he needs their help once more to get through the current crisis.

“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,” he said, appealing to generations of Singaporeans who have built Singapore up to this stage.

“At this critical moment, Singapore needs a capable government, with the full support of a united people, more than ever. Have no fear. Instead, be confident. Singapore will endure this searching trial. We will be tested, but we will not be found wanting. My team and I will walk this journey with you.”

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SGVotes2020 Singapore General Election Lee Hsien Loong PAP Covid-19 coronavirus

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