SINGAPORE – Having survived the pandemic, Singapore must now navigate the path ahead with purpose and unity, even as its people have diverse aspirations, said Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh on Monday (Aug 8).
“With a collective effort, we will be able to overcome today’s challenges to build Singapore into the nation we want it to be,” he said in a National Day message posted on Facebook.
The challenges facing the Republic today echo those of its early years of independence, said Mr Singh. Then, a shortage of domestic industry, a heavy reliance on foreign businesses, and a lack of housing were hurdles that had to be overcome.
“Yet our pioneers overcame these through their sheer determination to make life better for their children,” he said. “By the 1990s, we were one of the Four Asian Tigers, thanks to their hard work and drive.”
While Singapore reaps the rewards of its pioneers’ labour, it continues to search for solutions for its next step of development, he added.
“In echoes of our early years, our over-reliance on foreign labour inputs, shortage of globally competitive local businesses, astronomical housing prices and high inflation present challenges to younger Singaporeans achieving their dreams,” he said.
“Working Singaporeans also have to contend with stiff global competition and all the pressures of modern life which place a strain on their financial resources and mental health.”
Mr Singh said the WP’s MPs have made proposals in Parliament to help Singaporeans cope with the high cost of living, inflation and other issues, such as the affordability of housing, transport and medical treatment.
Among other things, the WP has argued against the coming goods and services tax increase and called for alternative ways to raise revenue, such as through wealth taxes and raising the reserves contribution ceiling.
Other proposals have sought to improve preventive health, break the poverty cycle, tackle the climate emergency, empower women to achieve their full potential and make the justice system more accessible, he added.
Mr Singh noted that the British “famously had reservations about our ability to survive” when then Chief Minister David Marshall went to London in 1956 to try and achieve self-determination for Singapore.
Mr Marshall was the leader of the Labour Front that won Singapore’s Legislative Assembly election in 1955 and founded the WP in 1957.
Yet, Singapore prevailed, and now a ray of sunlight is shining through the dark clouds of Covid-19, said Mr Singh.
He said: “I wish all Singaporeans a very happy 57th National Day!”