Two weeks ago, Minister of Manpower Josephine Teo had said that she understood the concerns of the business community over what the Prime Minister would say during his National Day Rally 2019 speech.
Speaking at the Hungry Ghost Festival Getai event in Midview City, Ms Teo has claimed that she had “gone through” the PM’s NDR speech and found that he will “deliver a useful message to everyone”. In the context of the event she was attending, she probably meant those in business when she said “everyone”.
She said at the Getai event:
“Me and my colleagues are aware that, especially for those involved in business, they will be little bit nervous during this period. But I wish to tell you that since NDR is coming soon in a little over 10 days, the PM must deliver an important speech at the yearly event.”
“I think those involved in business should pay attention to this year’s NDR speech. I had read his [the PM’s] script and I believe he will deliver some useful messages to everyone.”
She continued, “Of course I can’t ‘pecah lubang’ or reveal further details, but just to reassure you that we are aware of your concerns. So let’s wait for our PM to give his analysis and suggestions to you, ok?”
Judging by her turn of phrase, Ms Teo had asked those business people in the room to wait for the PM’s “useful message” to the business community which he is expected to deliver during his NDR speech.
Now that the NDR has passed, let’s look at some of the main points delivered in the PM’s highly anticipated speech.
First, he said the Government will raise the ages of retirement and re-employment for Singaporeans up to 65 and 70 respectively by 2030. He also announced that MOE will reduce the annual fees for full-time degree courses; an extension of the income threshold for means-tested subsidies for middle-income parents; and a government initiative to tackle the issue of rising sea levels.
On the economic front, PM Lee in his Mandarin NDR speech admitted that Singapore’s economic growth may have slowed significantly this year but the current situation does not warrant stimulus measures just yet.
If the situation gets much worse, however, Government will “promptly respond with appropriate interventions to sustain the livelihoods of our workers”, he added.
Going back to the fact that Ms Teo claimed to have “read” the PM’s NDR speech, and had asked those business people to stay tuned for the PM’s “useful messages”, we can see that the PM clearly said no economic stimulus measures was needed at this moment. That is directly contrary to what Ms Teo claimed in her speech two weeks ago.
So what Josephine Teo promised the business community at the Getai event did not actually come true.
You can watch the original video here. Skip to 01:08:00 for Ms Teo’s speech: