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Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad's Speech at the COVID-19 AAR White Paper Parliamentary Debate

A. Introduction – Adaptability and Resilience in the Face of COVID-19’s Challenges


A1. Mr Speaker, Sir, the speeches by Members of the House have allowed us to reflect on our nation’s fight against COVID-19, and the lessons to prepare us for the next pandemic.

A2. It was slightly more than three years ago when we first heard about a cluster of severe pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. No one could have imagined the prolonged impact that this would have on the world, our society and our economy.

A3. Being in MND and MOM at the onset of the pandemic, I witnessed how sectors like construction, faced the risk of collapse if we didn’t intervene early to address disruptions to supplies and foreign manpower, and business distress due to the pandemic and global border control measures.

A4. I also vividly remember PM Lee’s speech on our commitment to our migrant workers for their role in building Singapore over the years. It was a powerful one – our migrant workers will be paid their salaries, and that we will provide the medical care and treatment that they need.

A5. It was a bold and inclusive commitment that resonated and was very much appreciated by the workers – you may recall seeing videos of thanks from our migrant workers on social media then. During my rounds visiting the dormitories and in meetings, the high commissioners and ambassadors from our migrant workers’ home countries conveyed their nation’s appreciation for our efforts. Our swift actions and commitment showed Singapore to be a reliable and trusted partner.

A6. Our migrant workers play an important role in building and maintaining Singapore’s infrastructure. And I would like to reiterate our appreciation for all their contributions to Singapore and their trust, patience and understanding during the pandemic as we worked to keep them safe during COVID-19 and manage the evolving situation. 

A7. Through this journey, we all learnt to be adaptable and resilient in overcoming the challenges before us. We rallied together - our people, the public service, private companies and civil society – to put the interests of our nation and others before our own, and came through as one united people.

A8. In my speech, I will elaborate on:

a. Managing the impact of COVID-19 on the construction industry;

b. Standing up emergency accommodation facilities for migrant workers and supporting their health and well-being;

c. Ensuring that the SAF maintained a high level of operational readiness; and

d. Adapting to adjustments to religious life by the Malay/Muslim Community.


B. Managing the Impact of COVID-19 on the Construction Industry


B1. Mr Speaker, our Built Environment sector, was one of the worst-hit sectors by the pandemic.

a. Almost all construction work came to a halt during the Circuit Breaker period.

b. Even after work resumed and the dormitories declared cleared of COVID-19, companies had to adjust their operations and adapt to new measures, such as Safe Management Measures at worksites.

c. Companies faced manpower shortages, as they were unable to bring in new migrant workers due to travel restrictions and border measures.

d. These led to project delays, and significant cost increases to the sector.


(i) Government support for the construction sector


B2. Given the unprecedented challenges faced by the Built Environment sector, the Government intervened in a significant way.

B3. We introduced a $1.36 billion Construction Support Package to help companies ease back into work safely after the Circuit Breaker period. This came on top of the general support measures for all sectors.

B4. We also provided companies with multiple rounds of Foreign Worker Levy rebates and waivers, as well as wage subsidies via the Jobs Support Scheme. This relieved some of the burden from manpower costs and helped preserve jobs in the sector, including for locals.

B5. We recognised that some companies would be unable to meet their contractual obligations and previously committed timelines, with the work stoppages and delays due to COVID-19. 

a. As such, we introduced the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, or COTMA provisions to provide relief for defaulting parties, by putting in place a moratorium, during which legal obligations relating to inability to perform contractual obligations due to COVID-19 could not be enforced. 

b. The COTMA also provided a defence against claims for contract breaches, including liquidated damages in such instances.

c. A universal Extension of Time of four months was granted for construction projects, to account for the Circuit Breaker and time taken to clear the dormitories.

B6. We also recognised the need to ensure that no single party in the Built Environment value chain bore a disproportionate cost burden arising from delays due to the pandemic.

a. Hence, we inserted provisions in the COTMA to facilitate equitable sharing of non-manpower prolongation costs and foreign manpower cost increases between project parties.

B7. We also supported developers and end users, such as home buyers.

a. Developers whose projects faced construction delays could seek relief on the date of delivery of possession.

b. Home buyers who were affected by extended delivery dates could similarly seek reimbursement from the developer, for qualifying expenses.


(ii) Support from industry stakeholders


B8. Our trade associations also played a pivotal role in addressing the acute manpower shortages.

a. The Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL), Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) and Association of Process Industry (ASPRI) took the lead to pilot a tightened end-to-end process to bring migrant workers into Singapore safely.

b. This initiative involved integrating the testing of workers at dedicated onboarding facilities in their home countries, with protocols for them to stay safe from infection.

c. I thank SCAL, ASMI and ASPRI for their herculean effort in coordinating across multiple local and foreign companies in the healthcare and hospitality sectors and working closely with various public sector agencies, to facilitate the safe inflow of foreign workers.

B9. The pilot’s success allowed us to scale up further to meet the manpower needs of the Construction, Marine and Process industries, while safeguarding public health and our healthcare capacity.

B10. The lessons learnt and experience gained from these initiatives will help to minimise future manpower disruptions in the next pandemic.

B11. Today, our construction activities are now close to pre-COVID levels. Firm formation and cessation numbers also point to a stable situation. I thank our trade associations and all members of the Built Environment sector for their understanding, support, and resilience, which has made this recovery possible.

B12. The strong partnerships that we have forged over the past three years and the can-do spirit to overcome challenges will go a long way in preparing us for the next pandemic. Ultimately, what COVID-19 has taught us is that we need to transform the Built Environment sector towards greater resilience and productivity.


C. Standing Up Emergency Accommodation Facilities for Migrant Workers and Supporting their Health and Well-being


(i) Standing Up Facilities and Support for Migrant Workers


C1. The Minister for Manpower had elaborated on the fight against COVID-19 in the dormitories yesterday, and areas where we could do better.

C2. To protect our migrant workers and reduce COVID-19 transmission within the dormitories, we brought together public agencies, private companies and NGOs to identify and stand up emergency accommodation facilities. Put together, they came up with adaptable and innovative solutions, often under tight timelines and resource constraints.

C3. We repurposed a wide range of facilities into safe emergency accommodation facilities.

a. These included cruise ships, floatels, hotels, as well as retrofitted state properties such as multi-storey carparks, vacant schools, and vacant HDB blocks.

b. We also used port land and exhibition spaces, such as the Tanjong Pagar Port and Singapore Expo.

c. Even a vacant en-bloc site, the former Chancery Court condominium offered by Far East Organisation.

C4. Moving on to another group of partners, I will always be thankful for the support from our NGOs in providing care and support for our migrant workers throughout the pandemic.

C5. I recall our many meetings and dormitory visits during the pandemic, where I left heartened by their tireless efforts, especially during Circuit Breaker. They came together to forge new partnerships and coordinated efforts on the ground to meet the needs of our migrant workers in different ways.

a. The Migrant Workers’ Centre, for example, quickly kick-started initiatives to distribute masks, hand sanitisers, soap bars, shampoos, dental kits and other essential items to all migrant workers in the dormitories, including those in smaller factory-converted dormitories and construction temporary quarters.

b. We also had medical volunteers from medical NGO HealthServe, who helped to supplement the efforts of our medical teams on the ground.

c. As an inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-cultural organisation, Hope Initiative Alliance (HIA) played an important role in ensuring that the spiritual needs of our workers were met. They organised congregational prayers and religious services for workers of different faiths in the dormitories and recreation centres. When workers were unable to return home during their festive holidays, HIA helped to spread cheer by distributing festive care packs and meals. Many of their volunteers came from Christian groups and I remember them coming together to deliver breakfast at 4am during Ramadan – at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

C6. If I had to share all our stories together on the ground, we would be here for quite a while. So, let me just acknowledge our other NGOs who also made a difference in the lives of our migrant workers and helped as sounding boards for some of our policies, including the development of the improved dormitory standards, over the past three years.

C7. Thank you COVID-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC), Crisis Relief Alliance (CRA), Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (HOME), It’s Raining Raincoats (IRR), My Brother SG and The Salvation Army, for all your support.

C8. Ms Rachel Ong spoke about how we should continue our close working relationship with our NGOs to sustain their outreach with the migrant worker community. The Alliance for Migrant Workers Support (AMWS) was initially set-up as an engagement platform with NGOs during COVID-19. Moving forward, the AMWS will continue to be an important platform for us to come together to discuss how we can better support our migrant workers, work to improve policies affecting them, as well as to build our capabilities to better coordinate the distribution of resources and respond quickly in the next pandemic. 

C9. The Minister for Manpower spoke yesterday on how the Government stood up the Inter-Agency Task Force and brought in the SAF and the Home Team to manage the COVID-19 situation in the dormitories. Despite the risks involved, we saw the unwavering dedication of these officers, including those deployed as part of the Forward Assurance and Support Teams (FAST). Allow me to share two inspiring examples.

a. SPF officer Station Inspector (Sl) Sheik Ismail volunteered as a FAST officer at the S11 dormitory @ Punggol, which saw the largest COVID-19 cluster. SI Sheik made sure that the workers’ needs were met – helping them to talk to their employers about their salaries, ensuring that they stayed connected with their families, and assisting them to remit their money back home. What struck me was that SI Sheik went beyond the call of duty to lend a listening ear – taking time to understand their fears and encouraging them to focus on their hopes and dreams.

b. CPL(NS) Vinod, a Combat Medic with 2nd Combat Support Hospital, was deployed to the EXPO Community Care Facility. He supported the operations to plan, monitor and deliver care to affected migrant workers.  He shared that this ICT has been “the most meaningful one” for him. He felt a strong commitment to “fight a different kind of war” in a hall filled with thousands of migrant workers with COVID-19.

C10. Against an enemy that threatened to instil fear and destroy our way of life, Singaporeans from all walks of life – the public service, private sector, NGOs, volunteers and national servicemen, have indeed come together to “fight a different kind of war”, each playing their part through Total Defence.


(ii) Enhancing Adaptability and Resilience of our Infrastructure


C11. One of the key lessons from the pandemic is the importance of adaptability and resilience of our infrastructure. The unprecedented scale and prolonged nature of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in overwhelming demand for quarantine housing and temporary accommodations.

C12. Learning from this experience, public sector agencies are working to identify suitable facilities to meet possible crisis scenarios and better safeguard and operationalise sites for emergency needs.

a. This includes exploring dual-use facilities to serve both peacetime and crises functions.

b. One way to do this is by retrofitting available and suitable state properties to be able to pivot from peacetime to crisis use when necessary.

c. An example is the Quick-Built Dormitory at Sengkang West. It is currently used for new migrant workers to undergo residential onboarding and medical examination when they first arrive in Singapore. In the event of a pandemic, the Onboard Centre can be quickly converted into a dedicated facility for newly arrived workers to serve their Stay-Home Notice.

d. Public sector agencies will also explore with private sector owners to potentially use a wide variety of private infrastructure for emergency housing. These include chalets, hotels, serviced apartments and exhibition spaces. One such example was how D’Resort@Downtown East was used as a Government Quarantine Facility.  

C13. The two new migrant worker dormitories that MOM will be operating in partnership with the private sector, will have enhanced liveability and adaptability features for both peacetime and future disease outbreaks. For example:

a. There will be larger recreation spaces such as multi-purpose and sports courts, which can be repurposed as medical facilities.

C14. We are also looking at strengthening the resilience of key food distribution facilities, such as at Jurong Fishery Port and Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, against future emergencies and pandemics, as raised by Mr Saktiandi Supaat.

a. The Singapore Food Agency is carrying out upgrades to enhance the security, surveillance, and access control systems of our key food supply facilities. This would allow for better contact tracing in the event of a future disease outbreak and support the enforcement of control measures.

b. Businesses should continue to review and keep their business continuity plans relevant, to ensure supply resiliency at the company level.

C15. Even as we continue to enhance the adaptability of our infrastructure, we need to maintain strong partnerships across the people, the private and the public sector. This will be instrumental in enabling us to meet demands for quarantine housing and temporary accommodations in the next pandemic.


D. MOM’s response to manpower-related issues


D1. Let me take this opportunity to also address some of the matters relating to our workforce and workplaces during COVID-19, which were mentioned in some of the Members’ speeches.

D2. One concern was on the necessity of Workforce Vaccination Measures (WVM), raised by Ms Hazel Poa and Mr Yip Hon Weng. At that time, the virus was mutating and new variants which were highly transmissible were emerging, while time was needed to assess whether these new variants also put infected persons at higher risk of severe disease. This is when we were still grappling with Omicron, by the way.

D3. Unvaccinated individuals, especially those who are older, would have put themselves at risk of infection at the workplace. We were concerned that infected unvaccinated individuals could be at risk of severe illness. There could also be significant added strain on our healthcare system.

D4. The Government therefore decided that there was a need to put in place stronger measures at the workplaces to better protect vulnerable and at-risk groups. These measures complemented the public health measures in the community, such as the Vaccination-differentiated Safe Management Measures. 

D5. In the Advisory on COVID-19 Vaccination at the Workplace, the tripartite partners made very clear that dismissal is a last resort and employers should try to allow unvaccinated workers to work from home, including through redeployment. Following the lifting of the Workforce Vaccination Measures, Workforce Singapore (WSG) and NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) had reached out to and offered employment assistance to such unvaccinated employees. Unvaccinated individuals can also approach WSG or e2i if they require further assistance.

D6. The lifting of the Workforce Vaccination Measures followed the relaxation of the Vaccination-differentiated Safe Management Measures in April 2022. With the full lifting of the Vaccination-differentiated Safe Management Measures in October 2022, if an individual feels that an employer is making vaccination-differentiated requirements without genuine occupational needs to do so, he or she may approach MOM or the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) for assistance. Since October 2022, there has only been a handful of complaints. 

D7. For the broader workforce, a key lesson from the pandemic is developing a strong Singapore core and complementing it with a diverse foreign workforce to ensure the resilience of our businesses and our economy. This was a point that Mr Saktiandi Supaat spoke about as well. Due to border restrictions during the pandemic, the total number of foreign workers fell from about 1.4 million in Dec 2019 to about 1.2 million in Dec 2021. However, the number has since recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels, as border restrictions were relaxed and employers tried to catch the upswing of economic recovery.  

D8. Even as we strengthen the complementarity of our foreign workforce and continue to attract global talent, international investments and companies, our focus on strengthening the Singapore core in our workforce will remain:

a. We have developed Industry Transformation Maps and Jobs Transformation Maps, which includes strategies to prepare our workers for higher value-added jobs in each sector.

b. We have in place an ecosystem of programmes and schemes to prepare workers for jobs of the future, such as the Career Conversion Programmes and SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme.

c. We have also put in place various programmes to increase the global and regional exposure of locals to enable them to take up leadership positions in global firms.

D9. By combining and complementing local and foreign expertise, we can grow the pie for Singapore and provide more good job opportunities for all. 


E. Ensuring that the SAF Maintained a High Level of Operational Readiness


E1. Mr Speaker, I spoke earlier on how the SAF contributed to Singapore’s fight against COVID-19 in the dormitories. At the same time, more than 7,000 SAF personnel were deployed across operations ranging from contact tracing, call centre operations, logistical support, and medical operations.

E2. While our nation grappled and were fully focused on overcoming COVID-19, Singaporeans can be assured that the SAF kept up our security operations and maintained a high level of operational readiness to keep us safe from external threats.

E3. Critical SAF operations such as maritime security, air defence, protection of key installations and counter-terrorism, continued round the clock even during the pandemic. Our servicemen had to train in challenging conditions arising from pandemic restrictions. These conditions tested the SAF’s grit, tenacity and resilience, but our people adapted quickly and rose to the challenge.

E4. To minimise infection risk, the SAF implemented strict health and safety measures. These included vaccination, cohorting, safe distancing, reduction in training group sizes and COVID-19 testing regimes. Some personnel performing critical operations had to isolate themselves in camps and bases for days to ensure that they were free from infection before starting their duties. For many, this meant sacrificing time away from their loved ones.

E5. This made celebrations like Mother’s Day during the Circuit Breaker period slightly different for our servicewomen. MAJ Doris Sam, for example, an RSAF Air Warfare Officer was isolated in base with her unit to ensure they were free from infection and could continue to safeguard Singapore’s skies. This was the first time she was apart from her two-year-old toddler, Atlas, over a prolonged period. Despite the sacrifices required, Doris, like many fellow sons and daughters of Singapore, stayed true to her mission and continued to defend our home.

E6. With the gradual easing of restrictions, the SAF progressively resumed training, often operating under conditions more strenuous than before the pandemic.

E7. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, the Singapore Navy (RSN) participated in the SAF’s first overseas training since the onset of COVID-19, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), a multinational naval exercise.

a. The crew of the RSS Supreme embarked on one of their longest sails – 67 consecutive days on board the ship travelling across the Pacific Ocean.

b. Vaccines weren’t available at that time, so they were in a COVID-safe bubble and had no interactions with anyone apart from their fellow crewmates.

c. The ship was reconfigured with ICU capabilities in case someone turned positive. Fortunately, the entire crew tested negative throughout their deployment and successfully completed the exercise.

d. One of them was Weapons Systems Cluster Chief ME3 Suresh s/o Subramaniam, a father of three. ME3 Suresh told me that he was thankful for his wife’s support and assurance on the home front.

E8. The SAF is grateful for the support from spouses and families of our servicemen and women who also shared the belief on the need to uphold high standards of training amidst COVID-19, in the defence of Singapore, to ensure our sovereignty and way of life.


F. Thanking Other Groups Who Played their Part to Keep Singapore Going


F1. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many groups who kept Singapore going in different ways.

F2. One such group is our public transport workers as mentioned by Mr Melvin Yong earlier. They braved the virus every day to keep public transport services running. Some workers also volunteered to come back to work on their rest days to cover colleagues who were sick, especially when COVID-19 clusters were emerging amongst bus captains.

F3. Taxi drivers supported the conveyance of travellers on Stay-Home Notice to their accommodation and COVID-19 positive patients to and from healthcare facilities.

F4. Employers too, played their part. Public transport operators SBS Transit, SMRT, Tower Transit Singapore, and Go Ahead Singapore adjusted shifts to ensure their workers had sufficient rest while minimising impact on commuters.

F5. At the height of the pandemic, Platform Operators and their Workers also provided much-needed services ─ point-to-point transport, food and goods delivery. The Government had earlier accepted the recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers to strengthen protections for for Platform Workers in areas such as financial protection in case of work injury and housing and retirement adequacy.

F6. I echo Ms Janet Ang and Mr Melvin Yong’s tribute and thank our public transport workers and operators, Platform Workers and Operators, workers in the air and sea transport sector and many others, in our fight against COVID-19.

F7. This was a whole-of-society effort, one filled with sacrifice, dedication, and duty.


G. Adjustments to Religious Life by the Malay/Muslim Community


G1. Our Malay/Muslim community too played an important role. The community had to adjust to the closure of mosques and suspension of congregational prayers, which Mr Sharael Taha and Mr Wan Rizal spoke about earlier. While in Circuit Breaker, the community also had to observe Ramadan and Hari Raya away from their loved ones.

G2. With the month of Ramadan upon us in two days’ time, there is much to be grateful for, to be able to observe and pray together without COVID-19 restrictions. I recognise that it has not been easy for the Malay/Muslim community, including our religious leaders, because of the sacrifices needed over the past three years to battle and overcome COVID-19.

G3. I thank our Malay/Muslim community for making adjustments to their religious and cultural practices, and staying united with fellow Singaporeans to keep our country safe. Speaker, I will deliver the next segment in Malay.

G4. Bagi sebahagian besar masyarakat Islam kita, tempoh Pemutus Rantaian Jangkitan (circuit breaker) merupakan waktu yang amat mencabar.

a. Kita tidak dapat mengerjakan amalan dan ibadah seperti solat Jumaat berjemaah.

b. Kita juga terpaksa menggantung beberapa kegiatan lazim pada bulan Ramadan, seperti solat Terawih di masjid.

c. Namun, masyarakat kita tangkas menyesuaikan diri – dengan menunaikan solat berjemaah di rumah bersama keluarga masing-masing.

d. Muis juga memperkenalkan bahan-bahan keagamaan dalam talian seperti SalamSG TV untuk  membimbing masyarakat kita menjalankan kegiatan Ramadan di rumah.

e. Demi mengekalkan tradisi, masyarakat kita juga menggunakan kaedah dalam talian untuk menyampaikan ucapan Hari Raya kepada keluarga dan sanak-saudara.

G5. Pada tahun 2020 dan 2021, kita juga terpaksa menangguhkan ibadah Haji bagi jemaah Singapura.

a. Singapura merupakan antara negara yang pertama untuk berbuat demikian, sebelum negara-negara lain membuat keputusan yang serupa. Ini termasuk Arab Saudi yang mengumumkan bahawa ibadah Haji dihadkan kepada jemaah domestik sahaja demi mengawal penularan COVID-19.

b. Ramai yang berasa terkilan dengan keputusan itu, terutama sekali kerana tempoh menunggu yang sangat lama untuk mengerjakan ibadah Haji.

c. Namun, masyarakat kita akur akan keperluannya, kerana ia bukan sahaja melindungi kesihatan para jemaah, tetapi juga kesihatan orang-orang di sekeliling mereka.

G6. Langkah-langkah ini tidak mungkin dapat dilaksanakan tanpa kepimpinan Mufti dan Jawatankuasa Fatwa, barisan pemimpin asatizah yang lain, serta sokongan kuat masyarakat.

a. Para pemimpin agama kita bijak dalam menilai risiko kesihatan dan menyesuaikan amalan agama dengan keadaan semasa COVID-19. Keputusan sukar yang dibuat memerlukan keberanian dalam detik-detik genting agar dapat membendung penularan COVID-19.

b. Kepimpinan agama kita meraih manfaat daripada kerjasama rapat dengan para karyawan penjagaan kesihatan, menerusi Kumpulan Kerja Melayu/Islam COVID-19. Kumpulan ini memberi nasihat kepada Muis dalam membangunkan langkah-langkah keselamatan, serta menerangkan sebab-sebab di sebaliknya daripada sudut saintifik kepada masyarakat umum.

c. Contohnya, Dr Norhisham Main, Presiden Persatuan Karyawan Jagaan Kesihatan Islam (MHPA), bersama Mufti, menerangkan mengapa penutupan masjid serta perubahan-perubahan lain kepada amalan beragama kita perlu dilakukan, daripada sudut pandangan perubatan di sebuah rancangan temu bual interaktif dalam talian.

G7. Melalui penyesuaian yang dilakukan, masyarakat kita membuktikan bahawa kita adalah sebuah masyarakat progresif yang berupaya menyesuaikan kehidupan beragama, tanpa bercanggah dengan rukun-rukun Islam. Saya bangga bahawa masyarakat kita telah memainkan peranan yang berkesan, melalui semangat kewarga-negaraan yang dipaparkan semasa perjuangan kita membasmi COVID-19. Sumbangan sebegini penting, terutama dalam masyarakat kita yang berbilang budaya dan agama.

G8. Saya teruja bahawa sumbangan masyarakat kita turut diiktiraf di persada antarabangsa.

a. Tahun lalu, Jawatankuasa Fatwa yang dipimpin Mufti menerima Anugerah Imam Al-Qarafi oleh Sekretariat Agung bagi Pihak Berkuasa Fatwa Sedunia, di bawah naungan Dar al-Ifta di Mesir. Ini adalah atas kepimpinan dan sumbangan mereka dalam membimbing masyarakat semasa pandemik. Ini bukan sahaja sebuah pengiktirafan bagi Mufti dan Jawatankuasa Fatwa, tetapi juga kepada masyarakat kita yang membuat penyesuaian dengan baik apabila diperlukan.

G9. Saya turut berasa gembira kerana masyarakat kita masih menerapkan pengajaran yang diraih serta amalan-amalan baik daripada pandemik. Ini membina daya tahan kita, yang akan membantu dalam menghadapi cabaran masa hadapan.

a. Contohnya, sebilangan besar masjid tempatan masih menawarkan dua sesi solat Jumaat. Pada mulanya, langkah ini diperkenalkan untuk menghuraikan masalah jumlah jemaah yang perlu dikurangkan, tetapi ia kini memberi fleksibiliti kepada jemaah untuk memilih waktu yang sesuai bagi menunaikan solat Jumaat.

G10. Dalam beberapa hari lagi, masyarakat Islam akan menyambut  bulan Ramadan. Tiga tahun yang lalu, kita menjalankan ibadah puasa dalam tempoh Pemutus Rantaian Jangkitan.

G11. Sejak  itu, banyak yang telah kita harungi bersama. Sedang kita kembali seperti sediakala, saya harap kita terus melestarikan semangat gotong royong yang telah dijalin semasa pandemik, agar dapat membina Singapura yang lebih bersatu padu dan berdaya tahan.


H. Conclusion – A Stronger, Better Singapore Emerges


H1. Mr Speaker, in PM Lee Hsien Loong’s National Broadcast on 7 June 2020, just as Singapore emerged from the Circuit Breaker, PM addressed Singaporeans that we faced “the crisis of a generation”, and also expressed his hope that “an even stronger and better Singapore will emerge from this crisis”.

H2. Three years later, and on this side of the crisis, I believe that this holds true. We can be heartened by how our people have shown resilience, adaptability and unity throughout the pandemic.

H3. I am confident that the lessons we have learnt will put us in good stead for the future, and prepare us for the next crisis.

H4. In June 2020, at the start of the pandemic, I began my speech on the Supplementary Budget, with a verse from a song by the legendary band, Queen.

“Your every day is full of sunshine. But into every life, a little rain must fall”.

Today, I’d like to close this chapter with another verse, this time from another legendary band, The Beatles.

“Little darlin’, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter

Little darlin’, it feels like years since it’s been here

Here comes the sun,

Here comes the sun, and I say,

It’s alright.”

H5. Thank you, Mr Speaker.