SINGAPORE, July 6 — 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 today during an online rally.
Lee had previously said he hoped to step aside for the new leadership team before he turns 70. He is now 68.
Lee was speaking today 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.
GE2020 will be Lee’s ninth GE since he first entered politics in 1984 as the Member of Parliament for Teck Ghee Single Member Constituency. He had hinted last week that GE2020 may not be his last due to Covid-19.
Recounting how a sharp recession in 1985 occurred within months of the 1984 GE, Lee charted out his political career through several crises happening after that, including the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the 9/11 attacks 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, Lee said 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,” added Lee.
“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, Lee 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.”
Urging for Singaporeans to support the PAP, Lee said he needs their help once more to get through the 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,” said Lee, appealing to generations of Singaporeans who have built Singapore up to this stage.
Said Lee: “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.” — TODAY