President urges Singaporeans to unite behind newly elected government
If there is an upside to the pandemic, it is the reaffirmation of the Singapore spirit, and how Singaporeans' resilience as one people has seen them through this crisis thus far, President Halimah Yacob said.
To see Singapore through the next phase of this "existential crisis" - the most serious since independence - Madam Halimah urged Singaporeans to unite behind the newly elected Government.
Speaking from the Istana yesterday at a ceremony to swear in the new Cabinet, with a live video-link to Parliament House, President Halimah said Singaporeans from all walks of life have come together to mobilise resources in this "most difficult of times" and stood together with one another.
"So for this next phase, I ask Singaporeans to similarly unite behind the Government that we have elected and give it our full support to see Singapore through this crisis," she said, adding that she had confidence in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his team to steer Singapore safely through tumultuous times.
President Halimah also took stock of the "significant progress" that Singapore has made in the last five years.
Its competitiveness on the economic front was strengthened, and the Future Economy Council chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat led the effort to transform industries and retrain workers to stay productive and employable.
The social compact was also strengthened, with investments and policy reforms to make the basic needs of life more accessible and affordable, from enhanced pre-school subsidies to the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation Packages.
Madam Halimah described Covid-19 as an upheaval that could set Singapore back for many years, but the progress made in the last term of government has given the country a strong base to work from.
Singapore has had to muster its strength and resources to mount an emergency response - introducing rigorous safe distancing measures, launching a complex operation to bring the outbreak in migrant worker dormitories under control and injecting close to $100 billion in four Budgets to cushion the impact on jobs and incomes.
Madam Halimah added that after six months of unremitting effort on the part of front-line workers, the situation has stabilised in Singapore, although the crisis is far from over.
The Government called a general election to secure a fresh mandate and a new full term, to make necessary and difficult decisions to deal with the troubled times ahead, she said.
"Now that the election is over, we must focus on the challenges and the agenda ahead."