By Gurdip Singh
Singapore, Jul 27 (PTI) Singapore’s newly-elected Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday urged the people to be prepared for the post COVID-19 world as he vowed to vigorously deal with the economic and health challenges facing the nation.
Lee, who took oath in the presence of President Halimah Yacob after his People's Action Party received a clear mandate in the general election earlier this month, said the government should also keep an eye firmly on the future as one day the coronavirus crisis will get over.
“Singapore needs to be vigilant amid the COVID-19 situation while it gets the economy going again, but the Government must also look further ahead,” the 68-year-old prime minister said.
“Beyond the ongoing crisis, the Government must also keep our eyes firmly on the future. One day, the pandemic will be over and the economic crisis will pass. When that day comes, we have to be ready for the post-COVID-19 world,” Lee added.
Lee's PAP party has retained power with a clear mandate in the general election held on July 10 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PAP, in power since 1965, won 83 of the 93 parliamentary seats or 61.24 per cent of the vote.
The election was widely seen as a referendum on the prime minister's handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Singapore is currently facing the city state’s worst recession with the economy projected to shrink between 7 and 4 per cent.
Singapore is only a handful of countries to have held an election during the pandemic.
The new Cabinet will have 37 political office holders, the same as the previous one.
Lee said the aim of the government was not just to survive the pandemic but also set a long-term direction for the country.
“Our aim is not just to survive this storm, but also to set the long-term direction for our country. We must keep on improving Singapore, year after year, generation after generation,” he said.
Lee said that beyond the economic prosperity, the Government must also fulfill the broader ambitions Singaporeans have for the country.
“We aspire to be a fair and just society, with opportunities for all. We wish to fashion an inclusive community, where we look out for one another, reach out to those who need help, and show every Singaporean that they have a stake in our future,” the Prime Minister said.
Lee said that to achieve high hopes and dreams, Singapore’s political system must continue to work well for the nation.
“The election has shown a strong desire among Singaporeans for greater diversity of views in politics. Voters want the PAP to form the government, but they also want more robust debate of policies and plans,” he noted.
“We have to give expression to it, and evolve our political system to accommodate it, while maintaining our cohesion and sense of national purpose,” he said.
Singapore on Monday reported 469 new COVID-19 cases, including 15 imported infections, taking the country's total count to 50,838, the health ministry said. PTI GS RUP RUP