Singapore’s tripartite partnership is an important example of how Singaporeans work together as one nation and leave no one behind, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his annual May Day message.
This year, PM Lee noted how Singapore is marking May Day amidst the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Thanking Singaporeans for making sacrifices and exceeding the call of duty, PM Lee said: “Your families too have stood by your side, supporting you. To all of you, I want to say a big thank you.”
“May Day is a day of celebration for all workers, including migrant workers. I too send my thanks and good wishes to all migrant workers in Singapore, for what you have built and contributed here.”
As an open economy, PM Lee noted that Singapore has felt the economic impact from the pandemic. And in this crucial time, the Singapore Government has drawn on its national reserves to save jobs, reduce costs for companies, and tide Singaporeans over this crisis. He cited how the Job Support Scheme has been enhanced in the successive Budgets and the Government is paying three-quarters of the first $4,600 of wages in all sectors.
“Our reserves are a blessing, for which we must thank our forefathers’ values, discipline and foresight. This crisis is indeed a reminder for us to be prudent and frugal, to build up our reserves in peacetime, so that in truly difficult times, we will have something extra to fall back on,” PM Lee said.
During this difficult period, PM Lee encouraged both employers and workers to take a longer-term view. He urged employers to make every effort to keep workers, so that companies will be in a better position to rebuild when the economy recovers.
PM Lee also highlighted that companies will need to adapt to new operating environment and retrain workers. He shared that Government will scale up SkillsFuture programmes while the NTUC has set up a Job Security Council to help match and train displaced workers for new job opportunities. He added that the Government is also looking at way to buffer freelancers in the gig economy against economic volatility.
“We will not be able to save every job. But we will look after every worker.”
Compared to other sectors, PM Lee said the tourism and aviation sectors will take a longer time to recover. He added that the Government is also determined that Singapore Airlines will see through this crisis.
PM Lee is also confident that Singapore will be able to quick to adapt to the post-COVID-19 world: “We have what it takes to succeed. We have experienced economic restructuring before, having done it more than once to get here. We have the resources to support businesses, invest in our workforce, and take care of our people.”
COVID-19 is this generation’s challenge. The virus is a tough enemy – invisible, but formidable. It is now our turn to prove that we are worthy of our forebears, and up to the challenge before us. I have every confidence that we will prove more than equal to the task.”
Top image: Screengrab from Mediacorp