8 things about Singapore’s PM-in-Waiting, Lawrence Wong’s May Day Rally Speech at Downtown East

By May 1, 2022Current
Lawrence Wong

TL;DR – Minister Lawrence Wong shared that while there is no ready blueprint for Singapore’s future, he would like to see a fairer, greener, and more inclusive Singapore.

While some of you guys have already scooted overseas (ahem), and most of us are all enjoying our long, long weekend netflixing and feasting, Singapore’s fresh-from-the-oven Leader of the PAP 4G team, Minister Lawrence Wong, has just given a speech at the May Day Rally 2022 to a live audience of 900 at Downtown East, and another 1,000 attending online! In case you missed it, here are 10 takeaways from the speech. (Read on please, because yes, they will affect you as a Singaporean!)

Unions partnered the Government and employers and became co-drivers of Singapore’s development.

You may or may not know that the PAP and NTUC have always been strong partners – and that’s no secret. And it only meant good things for workers! Even before independence, our first generation of PAP leaders and unionists were part of the same movement, they fought to improve the lives of our workers. As Minister Wong shared, “Unions partnered the Government and employers and became co-drivers of Singapore’s development.” And that has brought about good outcomes! 

tripartism

When unions partnered the Government and employers and became co-drivers of Singapore’s development.

 

We are direct beneficiaries of our country’s early success. 

Since the beginning, we experienced how progressive social and economic policies could lift all – regardless of race, language or religion; regardless of social background. Minister Wong himself came from an ordinary heartland family in Marine Parade. He went to PCF Kindergarten; Haig Boys’ Primary School (where his mother was a teacher for 40 years), Tanjong Katong Secondary and then to Victoria Junior College – schools that were all near his home. Look how far this heartland boy has come!  

Heartland boy, Minister Lawrence Wong  via


Our founding generation’s forward-looking and progressive social and economic policies enabled us to do better than our parents. Now we must do the same for the next generation. Y’know, pass it on!

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There are many things to worry about as we look to the future. 

While we are seeing some semblance of normalcy, sadly, the pandemic is far from over. From the pandemic and economic challenges, the disruption that comes with rapid digitalisation and automation, straining US-China relations to our domestic issues such as a rapidly ageing society to the evolving demands and expectations on work, the worries are many. Our worries aplenty in the days ahead… 

Nobody can be sure that Singapore will do well in this more uncertain and volatile future. 

The last two years have been brutal. As a small country, we lack the resources of larger countries – essential supplies, vaccines – remember we have had to import them? But if you ask me, I’d say we did good! The pandemic is not over yet, but we have overcome many crises as one people, putting trust in one another. As Minister Lawrence Wong shared, working together, we achieved good outcomes – we’ve kept Covid-19 deaths at one of the lowest rates in the world, and enabled employment and incomes to recover quickly to pre-Covid levels. I’m proud, to say the least. 🙂 

Towards SG75, SG100 

Our youths have demonstrated grit, adaptability and resilience. What can we do for their future? In the years ahead, Minister Wong promised he will give every ounce of his strength, and that the 4G team will give their very best to strengthen the tripartite partnership, keep Singapore special and ensure a better Singapore for us all in the years ahead!  

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Refreshing Our Social Compact

We must collectively renew our social compact. That shared vision of a more fair and just society? Certain we will get there! 

“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.”

Minister Lawrence Wong also promises that the 4G team will continue listening to Singaporeans, and to better understand our perspectives, aspirations and needs. 

A “Forward Singapore” agenda 

The 4G team will develop a “Forward Singapore” agenda, setting out the country’s roadmap for the next decade and beyond – an exercise to refresh our social compact.

“We will seek to hear your thoughts on the economy, healthcare, housing, education and many other areas, including how we can continue to support and uplift every worker. 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 shared. The hard work continues…

Seeking the Labour Movement support

Minister Wong added that because the NTUC embodies the aspirations and concerns of all our workers, the Government cannot refresh the social compact without its support. 

He added that he’s seeking the Labour Movement’s “full participation and support” to work with the People’s Action Party and tripartite partners in the exercise.  Indeed, the NTUC and PAP, the tripartite partners – have a solemn duty to keep the Singapore Story going! For you, me, for us all. 

Tripartism is Singapore’s not-so-secret recipe to success. “We may have differing interests, but we do not clash and grind against each other in a zero-sum game,” he shared. Many union leaders from other countries admire the actualisation and effectiveness of Singapore’s tripartism – it is not just empty talk but there are real action and results. We have a good thing going for us – really. 

“The NTUC embodies the aspirations and concerns of all our workers. We wouldn’t be here today without the NTUC, and we cannot get to a better place tomorrow without your support.”

 

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Gabrielle Teo

Author Gabrielle Teo

I read lots, and I also spend an indecent amount of time trying to get my mostly unpopular opinions published. Oh, I argue a lot with fellow Singaporeans who complain incessantly about Singapore too.

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