COVID-19 has strained fault lines in Singapore society – PM Lee

COVID-19 has strained fault lines in Singapore society – PM Lee

SINGAPORE: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that COVID-19 has strained fault lines in the society and brought up difficult issues to the fore that the republic needs to deal with, noting one of them is Singaporeans’ anxieties over foreign work pass holders.

“I understand these anxieties and problems. The government is addressing them. We have to adjust our policies to manage the quality, numbers and concentrations of foreigners in Singapore,” Lee said in his National Day Message 2021 today.

“If we do this well, we can continue to welcome foreign workers and new immigrants, as we must,” he added. According to Lee, turning inwards is against Singapore fundamental interests.

“It would damage Singapore’s standing as a global and regional hub. It would cost us jobs and opportunities. Most importantly, it goes against our values of openness, and of being accepting of others who are different from us.

“Work pass holders help expand our economy and create more opportunities for us. When we complement our own workforce with skills from around the world, more companies will invest here, and this then creates more jobs for Singaporeans.

“The uncertainties of COVID-19 have worsened these anxieties. Work pass holders reinforce the team, but may also compete directly with their local colleagues. Sometimes the locals feel unfairly treated, for instance when they miss out on being hired or promoted.

“Outside work, from time to time there are also social frictions, because some work pass holders and their families have not fully adapted to our social norms, nor fully integrated into our society,” he said adding that Singaporeans’ anxieties over foreign work pass holders must be addressed.

“Our nation building has come a long way since, but our journey continues. From time to time, new crises will again test our resolve and unity. “But COVID-19 has shown that we can face them with grit and determination, and stay one united people,” said Lee.

Lee is confident that Singapore can keep on building a more harmonious society, a more prosperous economy, and a more successful nation for generations to come.

Touching on Singapore COVID-19 vaccination progress, Lee said the republic is currently vaccinating 1.0 per cent of its population daily with more than two thirds of its residents already fully vaccinated.

“A higher proportion of our population is now better protected. We are in a more resilient position. We can now look forward to a careful, step-by-step re-opening of our economy. This is how we can move into the new normal,” he said.As of 12 noon Aug 7, Singapore’s COVID-19 tally was 65,686 cases with 42 fatalities.– BERNAMA