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Protecting jobs just one piece of the puzzle: Heng Swee Keat

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PAP's East Coast GRC team hold online rally with jobs dominating the discussion

Protecting jobs in the current economic downturn is just one piece of the puzzle, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday.

Singapore must also continue to create good jobs, equip its workers with the skills to remain competitive in the job market, and match these jobs with the right people.

"Our workers now will have to compete with workers all over the world," Mr Heng said during East Coast GRC's first online rally yesterday.

"And what will give us an edge is if our workers have the special skills to be able to do better than other workers."

Mr Heng, who has left his Tampines stronghold, is East Coast GRC's new anchor minister. Unlike traditional election rallies, yesterday's online one took the format of a talk show.

The session, held in a studio and hosted by Senior Minister of State for Defence and Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman, was streamed live on Facebook with the five members of the People's Action Party's East Coast GRC team fielding questions from viewers.

Much of the discussion revolved around how jobs will be different in a changing economy. Viewers also asked the candidates about local issues such as infrastructure developments in the area.

East Coast GRC recently launched a new programme called Getting Employed Matters - a tie-up with voluntary welfare organisation Tao One - to help residents secure suitable jobs.


Dr Maliki, in response to a question from a viewer on why the topic of jobs was dominating the discussion, said: "It's not because we want to sound like a broken record.

"It's because we have been hearing this so much on the ground, and we understand the concerns of Singaporeans out there."

PAP backbenchers Jessica Tan and Cheryl Chan, both of whom work in the private sector, spoke about the challenges businesses are facing and the importance of enhancing career prospects for young adults.

PAP new face Tan Kiat How, who was the former chief executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority before stepping down to join politics, also gave suggestions on how to equip more people with digital skills.

He said: "Sometimes, the first step is the most difficult. What we are trying to do in the community is to help people to take the first step.

"After taking the first step, usually the second and third steps are much easier."

The PAP team also took several questions on infrastructure developments in the East Coast area, some of which were highlighted in the constituency's manifesto titled Together We Care @ East Coast.

Ms Tan said plans for the constituency fall into three broad categories: ensuring connectivity, rejuvenating homes, and making sure that the community is inclusive.