On 2 Sep 2020, PM Lee took to the podium in Parliament (wearing a pink shirt, thankfully) to give a speech.
Based on a Facebook post the Prime Minister (or rather, his team) published today, the speech is about Singapore’s response to the pandemic, as well as how Singapore will prepare for ‘life beyond Covid-19″.
If you’ve somehow missed the speech because, well, you have a real job, unlike the cats in Singapore twiddling their paws, and you want a simplified version of what he said, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s Everything You Should Know About PM Lee’s Speech on COVID-19 Simplified for You.
Report Card On Covid-19: Not ‘Full Marks’
I’m pretty sure you’re more than aware of what the Singapore government did in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Increase testing capabilities to 20,000 a day, and several different tests at that.
Giving out various economic relief to help both businesses and individuals, including the latest extension of the Jobs Support Scheme and the new Jobs Growth Incentive.
While we might be one of the higher-tier when it comes to the number of Covid-19 cases (56,901 as of 2 Sep 2020), our fatality rate is the lowest in the world.
And we’ve created so much hospital beds.
This, PM Lee says, is why he thinks Singapore has mounted a good response against Covid-19.
However, that doesn’t mean he thinks Singapore has done perfectly.
In his speech, he also highlighted a few things which, in hindsight, could’ve been done better.
- Singapore could have gotten its people to wear their masks earlier
- They could’ve tested everyone who returned to Singapore, not just those from selected countries
Nonetheless, Singapore has managed to stabilise the situation after much effort and hard work, although, he cautioned, we shouldn’t let up our guard.
Measures Here To Stay
I’m sure coming in, you’re probably like, Phase 3. Phase 3. Phase 3. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.
Pointing to other countries like New Zealand which is now combating the second wave of infections, PM Lee says that while the situation has stabilised, people in Singapore must not let down their guards.
Citing a recent survey by Straits Times which showed many respondents tired of the measures, he stressed that the reason why people feel the measures unnecessary is that the authorities managed to keep things under control, not because the virus is no more.
Here’s a simple analogy (my one, if it’s PM Lee’s, it’ll be more…classy and Russian):
You’re supposed to strap yourself in when you take the rollercoaster in USS. But just because the number of people who died after getting flung off rollercoasters is almost nil, does it mean you can stop strapping yourself in?
No, because the danger is still there. The same thing applies to Covid-19.
So if you turn your head exactly 13.46 degrees to the left and close your left eye at 46.735% to read between the lines, you’ll know that he’s basically saying the measures will remain while they slowly ease on restrictions.
TL; DR: Get used to socialising in groups of five.
Must Be Prepared For The Future
Bringing up the topic of Disease X, PM Lee says the Covid-19 coronavirus isn’t the worst we have to face.
For the uninitiated, disease X is the name given to unknown viruses that pose the greatest risk to mankind.
Nothing much is known about them but many, including PM Lee, seems to believe that it will come.
And it seems like just as we learn from SARS back in 2003, we will need to learn from this saga as well.
So, What’s Next?
According to PM Lee, they have a few social safety nets in place.
The ComCare, Workfare Income Supplement and Silver Support.
They’ve also implemented more measures when Covid-19 hit, including the Jobs Support Scheme, Supplement Income Relief Scheme (SIRS), the Covid-19 Support Grant and the Jobs Growth Incentive.
The Progress Wage Model is working well and is en route to cover more sectors as time passes.
Now, they can only see the situation and decide on what’s next to do.
However, PM Lee does have something to say about one issue that’s in the limelight right now: Foreign talents.
Adjustment Of Foreign Employment Policies
There are two reasons why the Singapore government is raising the minimum salary on the S Pass and the E Pass.
The first, like what Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said previously, is because the labour market here is slacker (read: fewer jobs so more people are looking for jobs).
There is a second reason, however.
According to PM Lee, it’s because Singaporeans are now better educated and have the right skillsets to fill in the holes.
If you forgot, previously, DPM Heng Swee Keat said that foreign talents are needed because they help Singapore to explore opportunities that our local talents don’t have the skillsets for.
For example, last time, we only know Microsoft Excel but the employers need someone to do WordPress so we had to get someone from overseas in.
But now, Singapore knows WordPress so there’s no need to get someone in.
This is just an example lah, some cats in Goody Feed still don’t know how to use Excel.
But this doesn’t mean we can close ourselves off.
Many Opportunities For S’pore
The world is watching and Singapore cannot afford to give the impression that we’re closing off from the world, PM Lee says.
Even now, while we’re in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic, Singapore has many people looking to come in because compared to the rest of the world, we’re better off (for now).
The government is stable, Covid-19 situation handled adequately, and the people skilled.
The Economic Development Board (EDB) pipeline is more than last year’s, he says, and many investors are now looking for other locations to place their investments.
As an example, he cited Hyundai, which is allegedly looking to place an R&D facility here while a company that specialises in pandemic risk insurance is looking to set up shop here.
All these equate to potential jobs for locals.
S’pore Still Need Foreign Talents
Singaporeans must be welcoming, he emphasised, as these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Global and regional HQs, he pointed out, cannot be staffed just by Singaporeans. They’re…well…global.
And investors will not go into a country where they are not allowed to bring their talents which they think they will need.
We need to become a people and society that is open and welcome people to come in and add their talents to Singapore.
PM Lee assures that the Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment (Tafep) and the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) are here to protect Singaporeans from discriminatory practices.
Meanwhile, he said, Singaporeans must be confident enough to hold our own in the world. In other words, snatch the jobs here because you’re better, not because you’re coddled.
The Singapore government is always on the side of Singaporeans, he assures.
He concluded his speech by saying that Singapore will emerge from this crisis stronger and brighter.
“Do not doubt. Do not fear. Jewel will shine again. Changi will thrive again. SIA will be a great way to fly once more. Our economy will prosper anew. And our children and our grandchildren will continue marching forward to build fairer, ever more just and equal society.”
You can watch his full speech below: