Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the swearing-in ceremony for Cabinet and other office holders on 27 July 2020. PM Lee spoke in Malay, Chinese and English.
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Speech in Malay by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Swearing-in Ceremony on 27 July 2020Madam President, Ministers and Members of Parliament, Fellow Singaporeans, good evening. Let me start in Malay.
Kita baru sahaja melalui Pilihan Raya Umum yang genting, yang berlangsung di tengah-tengah sebuah krisis segenerasi.
Saya dan pasukan saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada rakyat Singapura kerana memberi kami kepercayaan untuk menggalas tanggungjawab yang sangat berat ini.
Kami akan menggunakan mandat ini untuk bertindak secara berhemah dan penuh tanggungjawab bagi pihak anda, demi menangani cabaran-cabaran besar yang mendatang. Saya dan pasukan saya berazam untuk membawa Singapura keluar daripada krisis ini dengan selamat. Bersama-sama kita akan menjadi lebih teguh selepas ini.
Cabaran Utama Masa Depan
COVID-19 terus menjadi krisis hebat yang sedang melumpuhkan dunia termasuk Singapura dari segi kesihatan dan ekonomi. Keadaan ekonomi sejagat dijangka terus suram. Banyak lagi pekerjaan akan hilang. Kami akan cuba sedaya upaya untuk selamatkan pekerjaan, dan membantu mereka yang hilang pekerjaan, mencari pekerjaan baru.
Membentuk Hala Tuju Masa Hadapan
Namun selain menumpukan perhatian kepada cabaran yang mendesak, Pemerintah juga harus mencorak hala tuju jangka panjang negara.
Selain kemakmuran ekonomi, Pemerintah juga mesti memenuhi aspirasi rakyat Singapura yang lebih luas. Kita mahu menjadi sebuah masyarakat yang adil dan saksama, dengan pelbagai peluang untuk semua. Sebuah masyarakat yang lebih inklusif, yang menyediakan masa depan yang lebih cerah untuk rakyat, terutama generasi muda. Kita juga mahukan agar semangat kemanusiaan dalam masyarakat berbilang bangsa kita dapat berkembang mekar.
Untuk terus berjaya, Singapura mesti sentiasa diterajui barisan pemimpin politik yang bermutu tinggi. Saya telah membentuk sebuah pasukan Kabinet yang paling teguh, untuk membawa Singapura maju ke hadapan.
Tugas Kabinet dan Pemerintah baru kita telah pun bermula. Walau apa pun aliran politik kita, jangan sekali-kali kita lupa bahawa pada dasarnya, kita adalah rakyat Singapura.
Oleh itu, marilah kita semua bersatu padu dan menumpukan perhatian kepada cabaran-cabaran utama di hadapan kita. Marilah kita bekerjasama sebagai satu Singapura, demi memperbaiki kehidupan kita, menjamin masa depan kita dan memperteguh serta memperindahkan tanah air yang kita sayangi dan banggakan ini.
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Speech in Chinese by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Swearing-in Ceremony on 27 July 2020各位同胞，大家晚上好。
Speech in English by PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Swearing-in Ceremony on 27 July 2020
Singaporeans have just gone through a crucial General Election, held in the midst of a tremendous crisis. We have been through six difficult months, dealing with COVID-19, and the economic downturn precipitated by the virus. I called this election to give the government a fresh mandate and a full term, to deal with the difficult months and years that still lie ahead.
Singaporeans understood what was at stake. They considered carefully what the candidates and parties had to offer. And on Polling Day, voters turned out in full strength. They gave the PAP a clear mandate to form the government.
My team and I are humbled that Singaporeans have entrusted us with this heavy responsibility. We will use our mandate to act on your behalf, vigorously and unremittingly, to deal with the challenges ahead, and lead Singapore out of the crisis.
The work of our new Cabinet and government has already begun. The elections are behind us. Whatever our political persuasions, never forget that we are first and foremost Singaporeans. Let us all unite and focus our energies on the major challenges ahead.
Big Challenges Ahead
On the public health front, COVID-19 remains a serious problem. The global situation has taken a further turn for the worse, with both new infections and deaths continuing to climb. Even cities that initially brought the virus under control, like Hong Kong and Seoul, have suffered repeat outbreaks, after they eased safe distancing measures and reopened their economies. It shows just how difficult it will be for Singapore to keep ourselves free from the virus. And this is why, as we gradually restore economic activity, re-open our borders, and resume our lives, we are also building up our capacities to test and contact trace, so that we can identify and stamp out new outbreaks quickly. But each one of us still needs to play our own part, stay vigilant, practise safe distancing and minimise social interactions. That is how we can protect the health and the lives of our loved ones, especially our elderly.
At the same time, we have to get our economy going again. This is an enormous task. In the second quarter, our GDP shrank a record 12.6% year on year. The four Budgets this year have staved off the worst of the damage. But we have kept companies afloat, and minimised retrenchments so far. But economic conditions will continue to be difficult, and we must expect to lose many more jobs. We will do our best to save as many as we can, and help workers who still lose their jobs to find new work. The National Jobs Council is urgently working with the unions, business associations and government agencies on this vital task.
We will also help businesses that have been shut down by COVID-19 to start up again. In particular, the construction sector has been badly affected by the outbreak in the migrant worker dormitories. We have almost completed testing all the migrant workers in the dorms, and clearing the dorms of COVID-19. And we are exerting maximum effort to establish safe living and working conditions, so that the workers can get back to work as soon as possible, while keeping the virus in check. But it is a very complicated task, and despite our best efforts, will take a few weeks more to complete. In the meantime, the government will lighten the burden of levies and fees on their employers, and help them get back on their feet. This is only fair to the employers. Many of them are small sub-contractors. They are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden of keeping all of us safe from COVID-19.
Then there are sectors that have been hard hit by the closure of international borders, like tourism and aviation. Their recoveries will be slow. They rely heavily on the international market, without a large domestic market to buffer them. But we are determined to help these sectors pull through, as they are linked to many other parts of our economy. That is why the government put aside close to $2 billion in the Budgets to support them.
We must also be prepared that some industries will not return to what they were before. Then the government will face difficult choices, and so will the businesses themselves. We cannot afford to prop up failing industries indefinitely, or trap workers in jobs that are no longer viable. The better, long-term solution is to invest our resources to develop new capabilities, grow new industries and create new jobs. Then we can help firms in declining industries to reinvent themselves or pivot to other fields of business. We will also help workers in these industries reskill for the new jobs created. We were already doing this even before COVID-19, through SkillsFuture. But now the urgency is greater, and we must redouble our efforts.
Looking towards the future
Beyond the ongoing crisis, the government must also keep our eyes firmly on the future. One day, the pandemic will be over, and the economic crisis will pass. When that day comes, we have to be ready for the post-COVID-19 world. Our aim is not just to survive the storm, but also to set the long-term direction for our country. We must keep on improving Singapore, year after year, generation after generation.
Thus, we must press on with transforming our economy and upgrading our skills, working with our tripartite partners. This will help Singaporeans make the most of new opportunities, cope with new uncertainties, and improve their lives.
And beyond economic prosperity, we must also fulfil the broader ambitions Singaporeans have for our country. We aspire to be a fair and just society, with opportunities for all. We wish to fashion an inclusive community, where we look out for one another, reach out to those who need help, and show every Singaporean that they have a stake in our future. We want to make this a home where Singaporeans always believe that their children will have better lives than themselves, and the human spirit can flourish. This is the nation we are building together.
To achieve these hopes and dreams, our political system must continue to work well for Singapore. The election has shown a strong desire amongst Singaporeans for greater diversity of views in politics. Voters want the PAP to form the government, but they also want more robust debate of policies and plans. This trend is here to stay. We have to give expression to it, and evolve our political system to accommodate it, while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose.
This new Parliament will have a total of 12 Opposition MPs, the largest number in recent history. Ten are constituency MPs from the Workers’ Party, and two are NCMPs from the Progress Singapore Party. We will formally designate a Leader of the Opposition, and provide him with staff support and resources to perform his role.
I look forward to more vigorous but constructive debates in Parliament. I hope our colleagues across the aisle will step up to play their role of a responsible and loyal opposition. Their duty is not merely to raise criticisms and ask questions of the government, necessary as these functions are. But also, more importantly, to put forward serious policy alternatives to be scrutinised and debated. This way, we can help voters better understand the issues, choices and trade-offs. And in the process, improve policies and plans, and deliver better outcomes for Singapore.
Assembling a strong team for Singapore
Good politics depends not only on sound institutions, but also on high quality political leadership. More than other countries, Singapore needs leaders who are capable and committed, men and women who have the courage of their convictions, who command the respect of Singaporeans and who can mobilise the population to achieve great things together.
In this election, you have voted for me and my PAP team. With your mandate, I have formed the strongest Cabinet I could, to take Singapore through this crisis and beyond. The Cabinet I have formed is a multiracial team, reflective of our multiracial society. 7 out of 20 full ministers are non-Chinese. We have been sworn in before the President, with the Chief Justice in attendance, who both belong to minority communities. There can be no more vivid demonstration of how our meritocratic system works, and the lengths we have gone to, to ensure equal treatment and opportunities for every citizen, regardless of race, language or religion.
My Cabinet also includes Ministers and office holders from successive generations. The more senior ones have seen Singapore through past crises, and can offer valuable guidance and views to help overcome the challenges we now face. The younger Ministers are increasingly taking the lead, setting the agenda and engaging Singaporeans, for example through the SG Together movement and the Emerging Stronger Conversations. They have also been leading our COVID-19 response, and gained confidence dealing with the complex challenges of the pandemic. The new office holders will bring with them fresh ideas and perspectives, and work hard to master the issues. It is a team that Singaporeans can be confident in, and one that will walk with you every step of this journey.
Madam President, I have spent my entire adult life in public service. I will continue to devote myself to my country and people, drawing strength and purpose from the support of Singaporeans, young and old. My aim is to see through this crisis, and hand over Singapore, intact and in working order, into good hands who can take the country further forward. I ask Singaporeans to extend to the younger Ministers the same support that you have given me all these years.
But leadership renewal is a never-ending task. We continue to need more good people from every generation to step forward, stand for election, and serve our country. Singapore must have leaders who can take the rough and tumble of politics, and who will commit all their energies to work and fight for what they believe in. Only with an exceptional leadership team, working closely with Singaporeans, can we continue to stand out in the world.
We have achieved what few countries have in our 55 years since independence. A peaceful, multiracial society. Vastly better lives for all. Emerging stronger, and resolving to do better, after every crisis that has hit us. Let us now come together as one Singapore. Keep improving our lives, securing our future and building a nation we can all be proud to call home. Thank you.
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I have spent my entire adult life in public service. I will continue to devote myself to my country and people, drawing strength and purpose from the support of Singaporeans, young and old. PM Lee Hsien Loong
I have spent my entire adult life in public service. I will continue to devote myself to my country and people, drawing strength and purpose from the support of Singaporeans, young and old.
PM Lee Hsien Loong
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