Everything you need to know from DPM Lawrence Wong’s May Day Rally 2023 speech


Basically a quick summary of what DPM Lawrence Wong said.

While you were probably busy paying off your sleep debt at home, the union leaders, key representatives from the Labour Movement and tripartite partners have all gathered at Suntec City Convention Centre to celebrate this year’s May Day, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong!

The highlights of the May Day Rally were the speeches made by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Labour Chief Ng Chee Meng.

In this article, we will help you to summarize everything you should know about DPM Lawrence Wong’s speech because, after all, he is Singapore’s prime minister-in-waiting mah.

1. The worst of Covid is over, but the world is still very luan (messy)

You know de lah, got the Ukraine war, the worsening U.S.-China relations, and the ‘siege’ of global trade. All these issues will affect Singapore and make it harder for us to compete, grow our economy, create jobs, and earn a living.

Firstly, the rules of trades are changing. And it is no secret that Singapore has long thrived as a free port since we were founded in 1819. That means hor, if more countries become protectionist and trade rules are flouted, Singapore will DIE – because no trade liao mah.

Secondly, investment flows are shifting. For many years, Singapore has benefitted from global investments because a lot of companies see Singapore as a sibei good place to set up businesses. But as many firms start to set up factories and critical supplies closer to their own countries or in friendly countries they trust, such global direct investments that Singapore used to enjoy will also slow down.

Thirdly, many countries are offering companies large sums of tax incentives and subsidies to encourage them to go to their countries to build their production capacities. This is going to put Singapore in a very tough and jia lat spot because how to win all the big boys and the ah sia kia countries with a lot of money? Cannot possibly be using our reserves just to beg the MNCs to come and invest here right?

2. Singapore must always be ready to adapt to challenging times

So hor, with all these external pressures and challenges, DPM Lawrence Wong stresses that in order to overcome all these, Singapore must always be ready to take on all these.

He added that it should be sup-sup water (no big deal) to us because we have survived many crises together and we are now much stronger than before. We have a cohesive and united people. We have a high trust society. We have stable politics and a system that works.

Global businesses know that Singapore takes our commitments seriously and we are serious about forging mutually beneficial relationships for the long term, not just ownself say ownself shiok only.

The way Singapore has handled the Covid-19 situation has also enhanced our international reputation, said DPM Lawrence Wong. When other international logistics hubs faced disruptions and closures, it was business as usual for Singapore.

This gave firms and businesses confidence in us and enhanced our reputation as a reliable and trusted hub for business. So, we must take full advantage of this, and continue to find ways to serve the evolving needs of global businesses and attract more companies to choose Singapore as their go-to place for investments.

When companies come to Singapore to invest, they also in turn create jobs for Singaporeans – a win-win situation bah.

3. Jobs are still the BEST form of welfare for workers

With many new technologies on the way and more productive ways of doing things, DPM Lawrence Wong noted that a lot of the existing jobs will be made obsolete. But, he also said that many new jobs will be created too, and these will be more productive and higher value jobs.

So, in the Forward Singapore exercise, the Gahmen is studying how they can invest more in every worker – to help them continuously reskill and upskill, stay competitive, and take up new opportunities over the course of their careers.

On top of the Forward Singapore exercise, DPM Lawrence Wong also said that the Gahmen has also gathered a lot of feedback from NTUC’s “Every Worker Matters” Conversations.

NTUC calls for better wages and work prospects for skilled essential tradesmen!

He added that the Gahmen looking into areas such as:

  • Ways to uplift the lower-wage workers, narrow the wage gap and further professionalise skilled trades like electricians and plumbers.
  • More support for displaced and retrenched workers, to reduce their strain, help them get back into work, and bounce back stronger.
  • Helping all workers to meet their retirement needs, and enjoy peace of mind in their golden years.

and is working closely with NTUC on possible solutions, so that workers can have better assurance, good jobs, as well as good opportunities so that no one gets left behind.

NTUC calls for Unemployment Support for workers, MOM said that they are looking into it

4. Tripartism is the way to go

“Tripartism is our secret recipe. It is one of our biggest competitive advantages,” said DPM Lawrence Wong.

Citing the different strikes happening in many other developed first-world nations, where industrial relations have broken down, DPM Wong urged that we must never allow such to happen in Singapore and added that once the trust between unions, businesses and Gahmen is lost, it will be very hard to recover.

“Our unions know they don’t gain by knocking businesses. And our employers know they must make our workers feel they have a stake in their business. Instead, we make sure that everyone gets a fair share when we grow the pie,” he continued.

5. The symbiotic relationship between NTUC and PAP must continue to be strengthened

 In case you didn’t know, the symbiotic relationship between NTUC and the People’s Action Party (PAP) goes all the way back to the 1960s – sibei long liao.

Because both organisations have the same belief and they share the same objectives, which are:

  • to improve the lives of workers and Singaporeans
  • promote economic growth for all,
  • and ensure social cohesion and stability

Through good times and bad, workers and unions have supported the PAP. The PAP, in turn, as the ruling party, also works closely with the NTUC to put in place pro-worker laws and policies, and ensures that NTUC has the resources to look after the workers.

One such example is how the Gahmen has set aside $100 million for NTUC in Budget 2022 to scale up the company training committees (CTCs) to upskill workers so that they can enjoy better wages, welfare and work prospects. $100 million leh, no joke.

In his concluding speech, DPM Lawrence Wong said:

“The 4G team and I are fully committed to look after our workers, to protect your interests, and help you bounce back from tough times.

We are fully committed to our partnership with the NTUC and Labour Movement: working closely together to secure growth in an economy that works for all.  

We will walk this journey with you as we chart our way forward together, and we will always have your back.”

Sure Boh?

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