New Covid-19 variant may force S'pore to 'take a few steps back' before moving forward again: PM Lee

He also explained how Singapore's trust in the government has helped the country weather the pandemic in the last two years.

Joshua Lee | November 28, 2021, 10:55 AM

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The Singapore government is currently tracking the new Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus very closely, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong today (November 28) at the People’s Action Party (PAP) Convention 2021.

"We're not sure yet, but we may well be forced to take a few steps back before we can take more steps forward," he said, cautioning that Singaporeans have to be prepared for more bumps along the way.

However, PM Lee, added that he is confident that Singapore will find a way to live with the virus.

PM Lee was speaking to more than 2,000 activists through a hybrid event format from Suntec Convention Centre across Singapore.

Thankful for Singaporeans

In his speech, the prime minister, who is the PAP Secretary-General, thanked healthcare and frontline workers who have been working tirelessly to keep Singapore safe. He also thanked party activists who tended to residents' physical and mental well-being over the last two years.

He added that he is thankful for how Singaporeans have worked closely with the government to stay united and support each other.

On the importance of trust during a crisis

PM Lee said that "every crisis is a test of trust" and people look to their government to lead the country through a crisis.

Singaporeans trust the government, which is why the country's measures against Covid-19 have worked, he said.

"Singaporeans have this confidence because for 60 years now, we've had consistent, functioning, good PAP government. They know the PAP will never give up in a crisis, we won’t buckle, and we will always have your back."

Trust in the government and healthcare system also resulted in a successful vaccination programme, said PM Lee.

87 per cent of Singapore's population is fully vaccinated. This is one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.

PM Lee contrasted this with Europe (where a "significant minority simply refuse to get vaccinated") as well as the U.S. where partisan political lines prevent the country from moving forward with vaccination.

Nurturing this trust takes effort and PM Lee urged the party to continue doing so by dealing with problems competently, being open and transparent, and leading by example.

"Covid-19 has been a searching test of public trust, for societies all around the world," said PM Lee, adding that Singapore is and must remain a high-trust society.

"That is the way to weather not just Covid-19, but future storms that will come our way."

Gan: PAP must "keep listening, & keep delivering better lives" for S'poreans

In his opening address, PAP Chairman Gan Kim Yong reminded activists that PAP must keep to its promise, keep listening, and keep delivering better lives for Singaporeans if it wants their continued support.

He said that PAP does not have an innate right to Singaporeans' support.

The Minister for Trade and Industry added that Singaporeans support the PAP because they believe in PAP, in what PAP is doing, in making progress that uplifts everyone.

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Top image: Cris Tagupa on Unsplash, Sulaiman Daud.