SINGAPORE – The ruling party’s next generation of leaders will soon draw up a roadmap for Singapore for the next decade and beyond, said the team’s chosen leader Lawrence Wong on Sunday (May 1).
The team will engage stakeholders from different fields – unions and the people and private sector – to hear thoughts on the economy, healthcare, housing, education and other areas, said Mr Wong.
He was speaking to unionists at the May Day Rally held at Downtown East. There were about 900 in the audience and another 1,000 attending online.
“The 4G team and I will lead an exercise to refresh our social compact… We will consider what we need to do differently; but also affirm what is being done well; and how we can do it even better,” he said.
Mr Wong was announced as the leader of the People’s Action Party’s (PAP) fourth-generation (4G) team on April 14, paving the way for him to be Singapore’s next prime minister.
On Sunday, he said that the exercise would not be just about what the Government can do for the people, but also, as Singapore has learnt during the pandemic, what everyone can do for one another.
“And how we can all, collectively, contribute toward building a better society that embodies the values we stand for,” said Mr Wong.
“In short, we aim to develop a ‘Forward Singapore’ agenda, which will set out the roadmap for the next decade and beyond,” he added.
This roadmap will be a major undertaking of the 4G team and will be formally launched soon, he noted.
Mr Wong said he announced these plans on Sunday to seek the labour movement’s full participation and support for the exercise, noting that the labour movement and tripartism have been the bedrock of Singapore’s success over the decades.
He noted that there is no ready blueprint for Singapore’s future, but he would like to see a fairer, greener, and more inclusive Singapore – also the key themes of his maiden Budget that he delivered in February.
Mr Wong said: “A home where everyone is accepted and valued, and treated equally and with respect, no matter their background or station in life. A home where everyone can live with dignity, and flourish in their own way, and at their own pace, regardless of their starting points.
“Now going from this ideal to reality will require more than my personal hopes; it’s about what we can and must do as a people, together.”
During his speech, he also noted the importance of tripartism and Singapore’s distinctive model of it – where unions partner the Government and employers, and the tripartite partners became co-drivers of Singapore’s development.
He said: “We may have differing interests from time to time but we do not clash and grind against each other in a zero-sum game.
“Instead, we learn to accommodate, to give and take, and find common ground. And in the process we build closer relationships with one another, we strengthen trust, and we move forward together.”
Mr Wong said that though many did not live through the founding years of tripartism, they are all direct beneficiaries of it.
“My own life story illustrates this,” he said, adding that he grew up in an ordinary heartland family in Marine Parade, and that the slogan “every school is a good school” was not just a slogan for him but a real-life experience.
Mr Wong attended a PAP Community Foundation kindergarten, Haig Boys’ Primary School, Tanjong Katong Secondary School and Victoria Junior College – all schools near his home.
“Our pioneers have enabled my generation and I to do better than our parents. Likewise, for me and my 4G team, we want to ensure the same for the next generation,” he said.
While there are challenges and volatility ahead both globally and domestically, the experience of the last two years gives him confidence, said Mr Wong.
Despite lacking the resources of larger countries, Singapore has been able to adapt and adjust quickly amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that he had recently attended a dialogue with young people looking towards SG100.
“By 2040, I will be close to 70 years old. Now as I said before, I don’t know if the PAP will win the next GE, let alone if I will still be in office in 2040,” he said.
Noting that he had committed all 25 years of his working life to the public service, he said: “I give you my word: whatever lies ahead, I will give every ounce of my strength to this movement, together with my comrades in the 4G team.”
Earlier on in the Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had asked the unionists to give Mr Wong and his team their fullest support.
He said: “I told him he will be in the hot seat. He is taking on a very heavy responsibility. He will have to lead Singapore in a very different and uncertain world.
“He will need the full support of his Cabinet colleagues and also must be able to rely on all our brothers and sisters to work with him and his team, and to continue partnering them, to take Singapore forward.”