PM Lee Asking S’poreans To Steal Other People’s Lunch Summarises His Entire May Day Rally Speech

I know what you’re thinking. The Prime Minister of Singapore asking us to go and steal from others? That’s like telling us to take the tissue paper that other people used to chope the tables at the hawker centre.

It shouldn’t happen, but it did.

Sorry if this made you hungry but when he used the lunch analogy in his recent speech at May Day Rally 2017, he really meant opportunities. And if our opportunities get stolen, our rice bowl gets broken.

See? Lunch analogies!

Okay, jokes aside, here’s why his entire speech can be summarised by this important lesson.

Someone is always trying to steal your lunch

“There are always competitors looming, somebody is always trying to steal your lunch and we have to guard our lunch, and if there is any other lunch out there which nobody is “chope-ing”, there is an opportunity for us.”–PM Lee Hsien Loong

It’s a fact. Around the world, economies are booming and there are many who are hungry… in fact, hungrier than Singaporeans.

An example PM Lee gave was that of workers in a factory in China, who work by day and spend their nights doing learning modules online to upskill. #nolife you might say but for them, their only way is up!

Similarly, Singapore’s PSA is crowned as the jewel port of Asia, but that is a title we cannot be confident of holding when you have other ports like Port Klang, Tanjung Pelapas, and a new port coming up in Malacca to compete with. And just like Singapore’s, these ports are automated as well.

We must never take things for granted because out there, somewhere, someone is working to take away your job.

PM Lee Hsien Loong reiterating that Singaporeans must remain “hungry”.

The Global Stage vs Singapore

PM Lee laid it out like it is – things are slightly optimistic on the global stage. Confidence is up in the US and China and Japan economies are also picking up.

On our homeground, the mood is one of cautious optimism. While Singapore had a growth of 2% last year, the challenge is to continue innovating and raising productivity. 

But not all is bright and cheery. Redundancies have gone up.

Redundancies have gone up. The unemployment rate rose to 2.3% and is expected to increase even further due to the restructuring of companies and industries.

This means there’ll be more people out of a job because their skill sets are useless for the economy of tomorrow unless workers reskill and upskill to remain relevant for the workplace of the future.

Yup, now you get why he uses the word cautious.

So What is Being Done?

Here’s what is on everyone’s mind: what then is the government doing to help its people?

And to be honest, the first thing you got to do is to stop asking how the government can help you. And start asking what you can do to help yourself.

But that’s just me.

It’s not like you go to school and you ask how your teachers can help you pass the exams, right? You got to pull your own weight and jolly well study. #JustSaying

That said, rest assured that PM Lee has spelt out the government’s priority and that their focus is on “three things – jobs, jobs and jobs.”

They are trying to 1) help businesses create new jobs, 2) put displaced (or redundant) workers in alternative jobs and 3) upgrade them in their current jobs.

And when PM Lee says it, it’s likely something will be done. PM mah.

In his May Day Rally speech, NTUC Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing explained how the union is evolving to be more representative of workers in different market segments.

Besides PM Lee sharing what the Government is doing to help workers. The May Day Rally also saw Labour Chief Chan Chun Sing share on how the union is disrupting itself to meet the needs of workers in a more diverse working environment.

It has evolved from representing union members to increasing representation of PMEs in various professional guilds, SMEs, freelancers and self-employed as well as migrant workers.

With this increase in relevance to the workforce and better representativeness of the workforce also comes a larger network that can be leveraged for mutually beneficial outcomes a.k.a. the multiplier effect. 

With PMEs making up a large percentage of the Singapore workforce, many of them are especially vulnerable to the cyclical upheavals in the economy.

In the words of Secretary-General Chan Chun Sing, he encourages them “to embrace a new mindset” and to “continuously look for new areas of knowledge”. 

I don’t know about you but the old adage of how “if you don’t go through life with an open mind, you will find a lot of closed doors” rings true in this case.

With an open mind, “hunger” and self-motivated continuous learning, workers would be able to tackle the economic challenges thrown their way to remain relevant and future ready.

Who knows… besides protecting your lunch, you might actually be able to kope someone’s else? ;D

This article was first published on in collaboration with the Labour Movement of Singapore.

This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying: