Speech by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the SCCC-SFCCA Spring Reception on 27 January 2020.
新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会会长 陈奕福 先生
新年快乐！I will first speak in Mandarin, and then in English. 很高兴能够参加新加坡华族文化中心和新加坡宗乡会馆联合总会联办的 “新春团拜”！
放眼未来，我们需要群策群力，迎接各种挑战，并肩前行，共创美好的未来。 世界前景的不确定性会对我们造成影响。例如，武汉肺炎病毒的扩散已经影响了我国。事态发展迅速多变， 日益严重。我能够理解国人的担忧。所幸的是，之前的沙斯疫情(SARS)让新加坡和其他国家累计了相关经验，做好了应对的措施，加强了各方面的应对能力。在1月22日，政府成立了由颜金勇部长和黄循财部长联合带领的跨部门工作小组，动员所有相关的政府部门，协调各方面的工作。政府建立多重保护网， 竭尽所能保障国人的安全。我们的各大医院和医疗单位也加强检测和应对措施，让我们继续支持我们的医疗团队。
政府将继续支持企业提高生产力和培养新能力，并协助工友掌握新技能、保持受雇能力。在帮助国人应付生活费，加强社会安全网， 为弱势群体提供生活保障方面，政府仍然不遗余力。尽管未来充满挑战，过去的经验告诉我们，只要我们同心协力，必定能够渡过一个又一个的难关。去年，我推出了 “群策群力， 共创未来”运动，鼓励国人与政府紧密合作。
A very happy Lunar New Year to everyone. As we usher in the Year of the Rat, and a new zodiac cycle, my wish for Singapore is that we continue to progress as a nation, and stay united as one people.
Singapore has come a long way. Since independence almost fifty-five years ago, to where we are today.
We must not let up on our efforts to build a future of progress for all Singaporeans. So that we can build a better life, for ourselves, for our children, and our grandchildren.
We will strengthen our efforts, to transform our economy to create new opportunities, to invest in our people, so that they are equipped to seize these opportunities, and to enhance our safety nets, so that we leave no one behind, if they give their best.
We must harness our diversity as a strength to build our shared future together. In many ways, Singapore is unique in our diversity. We are a multi-racial, multi-cultural, and multi-religious society. So, I am very glad to see friends from different races here today, celebrating the Lunar New Year together. But we are increasingly more diverse in terms of our needs, our aspirations and our views and it is crucial that we harness our diversity as a strength, rather than let our differences divide us.
This is why I launched the Singapore Together movement last year, to mobilise Singaporeans - to come forward and work with us, and with one another, to contribute their passion and expertise in causes that they care for.
Working together and remaining united as one people is critical for Singapore, as we navigate a world that is more uncertain and more divided. The global order is under stress as the contestation between the US and China continues into the new decade. New divides are also forming, as nativist and protectionist tendencies take root in many societies but the Wuhan coronavirus reminds us that the forces of nature can be unpredictable, and know no boundaries. A virus that originates in one country, can quickly spread around the globe because the world we live in, is highly inter-connected.
As we start the new year, the Wuhan coronavirus is one challenge that we need to work together as one people. The situation is escalating rapidly, in China and globally. Singapore has confirmed our first four cases.
Thankfully, we are better prepared this time round, after our experience with SARS in 2003. Our healthcare institutions are also geared up to handle the cases but we will need to remain alert to the situation and adapt our responses accordingly. We will spare no effort to keep Singaporeans safe.
On 22 Jan, the Government set up a Ministerial Task Force, co-led by Ministers Gan Kim Yong and Lawrence Wong, to oversee our responses to the Wuhan coronavirus. We have built multiple rings of defence to protect Singaporeans. Since the start of the month, we stepped up our safeguards as the situation developed.
Just this morning, the Task Force announced three additional measures. First, we will expand our travel advisory to defer all non-essential travel to the rest of China. Second, we will enhance screening efforts at our air checkpoints. We will deploy thermal scanners to cover all incoming flights, with additional attention to flights from China. Third, we will take precautionary measures for those returning from China and take more stringent measures for those with close contact and sustained interactions with vulnerable groups, such as children and the elderly. This may lead to some inconvenience, but we hope to get your support for the additional measures needed to keep us safe. As a number of my colleagues are still at the press conference, they are not able to join us here today.
Singapore is also working closely with the WHO, with China and all countries to mitigate the effects and global spread of this virus.
In the midst of the Lunar New Year, we should continue to enjoy the festivities, and meet up with family and friends and when the work week resumes, we must continue to go about our daily lives. But all of us must stay vigilant and we can each do our part by adopting good personal hygiene, by being socially responsible. If you are unwell, do see a doctor and avoid crowded places until you are better. By staying informed and up to date on the latest, from the news, from MOH’s website and by signing up to the GOV.SG WhatsApp channel for updates.
As businesses – many of you here are from the business community – You can better care for the well-being of our workers during this period, and refresh your business continuity plans if you have not done so.
By working together as one people, by harnessing our diversity as strength, and by working with all countries, I am confident we can overcome the Wuhan coronavirus and the other challenges ahead of us. Together, we must build a brighter and better future for all of us!
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