PM Lee calls on opposition to be ‘upfront’ about stance on Singapore’s reserves and take


“PROTECT THIS NEST EGG”

Singapore drew S$40 billion (US$30 billion) from the reserves for the COVID-19 crisis and this proved to be a “tremendous advantage”, said Mr Lee.

“It gave us confidence, and gave others confidence in us. We had the financial muscle to do everything we needed to do, without getting heavily into debt, unlike so many other countries,” he added.

Yet such a pandemic is far from the worst thing that can happen to Singapore, he said, pointing out that the war in Ukraine is costing US$100 million a day, and that Ukraine relies heavily on US and European support.

“How long more can the US and Europe sustain this support for Ukraine? Looking ahead 50 years, can anyone promise that Singapore will enjoy another half century of peace and tranquillity? Or guarantee that someone will come to our rescue if we ever find ourselves in the same situation as Ukraine?”

Urging Singaporeans to continue to nurture this nest egg left by Singapore’s forefathers, Mr Lee said that despite the difficulties and the challenges earlier generations faced, they put aside the savings that current Singaporeans now enjoy.

“We are better off for it and grateful to them for it. Now, we too should fulfil our obligation to our children and grandchildren to protect their interest in this nest egg,” said the Prime Minister.

“This nest egg is the money of the people of Singapore … but it is not the money only of this generation of the people of Singapore. It belongs to this generation. It belongs to future generations too, and we have a responsibility to both.”

He added: “We are beneficiaries of our forefathers’ sacrifice and vision but we are also trustees protecting this inheritance for future generations,” he added.

OPPOSITION CHANGED ITS TUNE: PM LEE

Mr Lee said that this ethos was something both the PAP and opposition politicians agreed upon, and has been upheld “across the aisle in this House”.

Citing parliamentary debates during the global financial crisis, Mr Lee said that then-Workers’ Party (WP) chief Low Thia Khiang questioned the government’s decision to draw from past reserves to fund support measures.

Mr Lee said that it was right to raise this question. Then, when the government paid back the amount drawn down, Mr Low said that it was the right thing to do.

There was a “common commitment” to safeguard Singapore’s reserves, said Mr Lee.

Mr Lee added: “Now, I hear the opposition arguing that we should change the rules and draw more from reserves and that, of course, they have no intention to raid the reserves … They say we can easily afford what they are proposing.

“I conclude their tune has changed.”



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