The coming general election will not be a normal one, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as it takes place against the backdrop of the most severe crisis the world has faced in decades.
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the world into a turbulent storm, and the PAP Government's most urgent priority now is to keep the country "flying straight and level", he said yesterday.
"This is not a normal election, and we are not in a normal situation. We are in the middle of the most severe crisis the world has faced for many decades.
"The immediate business of running Singapore is anything but routine. Without a herculean effort by us, we cannot be certain that what we have painstakingly built over decades will continue to stand, and not collapse in the storm."
Laying out what is at stake as he launched the PAP's campaign manifesto, PM Lee, who is also the party's secretary-general, said its central focus is "how we will work together to overcome this crisis of a generation".
He highlighted three issues on the top of voters' minds:
• Keeping Singaporeans and migrant workers safe from Covid-19 and keeping the disease from overwhelming the healthcare system;
• Restarting and transforming the economy, saving jobs and businesses and reskilling workers;
• Providing care and support to Singaporeans amid the uncertainty and danger.
Said PM Lee: "Singaporeans understand that this is not business as usual, or politics as usual. You want to know how the Government will work with you to solve your pressing worries."
The party's manifesto for this election - titled "Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future" - answers those questions, he said.
It also sets out the party's longer-term plans beyond Covid-19 and jobs - on how the country can continue its upward march after the crisis subsides, and where Singapore will be in 20 years' time, he added.
But to put those plans into action, a strong, steady and capable leadership team - one with experience dealing with crises, new ideas, and with dedication and commitment to serving Singaporeans - is needed, he said.
"Hardly ever before has government been so crucial to protecting lives and livelihoods of Singaporeans. This is why leadership is key," he added. "Whom you choose to form the next government and the quality of that leadership, is absolutely critical."
NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL
Singaporeans understand that this is not business as usual, or politics as usual. You want to know how the Government will work with you to solve your pressing worries.
PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG
Speaking via a live stream on Facebook and YouTube, PM Lee said he called for the July 10 GE so the Government can have a fresh mandate and a full five-year term to deal decisively with the challenges ahead.
"The next Government has a huge task ahead. It will have many important decisions to make, decisions that will affect our lives for years to come," he said.
Noting that it will be a "tough election", given the backdrop, he called on party members to work hard to convince Singaporeans to support it, saying they have to fight to win every vote in every ward.
"But after winning the people's mandate, we will have a much bigger fight: to protect our people's lives and livelihoods during this deep crisis."
The launch of its manifesto comes three days before Nomination Day, which marks the start of the official campaign period.
PM Lee said the PAP's new candidates represent a wide range of life experiences and backgrounds.
The party had finished unveiling all 27 of its new candidates for the coming polls on Friday. One of them, Mr Ivan Lim, withdrew yesterday, saying the controversy over his candidacy has "eclipsed the core issues" of the election.
With the hustings around the corner, PAP members were out and about in their constituencies yesterday, with Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat accompanying a number of them. He joined Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran and Ms Foo Mee Har, who are part of the PAP's West Coast GRC team, on a visit to Teban Gardens Market and Food Centre in the morning.
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