Speech by Minister for Finance Mr Lawrence Wong at the Launch of the Hari Raya Light-up 2022 on Friday, 25 March 2022, 7.55pm, at Wisma Geylang Serai25 Mar 2022
My Parliamentary Colleagues
Ladies and gentlemen
1. Good evening. Selamat malam. I am very happy to join all of you tonight for the launch of the Hari Raya Light Up at Geylang Serai. It is very good to have this gathering, especially to see a live band here at this event. It has been a long time since I had a live band in an event, and after next week, we will see a lot more soon. I am sure you are looking forward to it. Let me just say a few words in Malay before I continue in English.
2. Sudah dua tahun, kita semua memerangi wabak ini. Masyarakat Melayu-Islam khususnya telah mematuhi langkah-langkah yang ditetapkan. Terima Kasih atas kerjasama anda. Kita telah mencapai hasil yang baik seperti - ramai orang sudah divaksin dan dilindungi. Kita sekarang berada di kedudukan yang lebih baik untuk melonggarkan langkah-langkah pengurusan selamat.
3. Sebab itulah, Raya tahun ini, istimewa. Selagi kita terus bekerjasama dan mengamalkan semangat gotong-royong, kita akan menjadi lebih baik, sebagai satu masyarakat dan satu negara.
4. It has been three years since I was here for the Wisma Geylang Serai Hari Raya event. That was in 2019. It does not seem like very long ago, but it feels like a lifetime has passed, because so much has changed in our lives. Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the way we live, work and play.
a. We have had to adjust to new ways of learning, new ways of working, and new ways of making a living.
b. We have had to learn to keep in touch with our loved ones online, and to celebrate our personal milestones over Zoom or even group chats over the phone.
c. The impact of Covid-19 has not only been felt in our day-to-day lives, but also our entire community.
d. It has changed for many of us, how we practise our faiths, how we keep alive our traditions, and that includes our Malay-Muslim community.
e. I know all of you have had to celebrate Hari Rayas in a more muted fashion, in smaller group sizes. You have had to adjust to reduced prayer places at the mosques due to safe distancing requirements.
5. I know it has not been easy for the community. This adjustment has been difficult, so I want to thank all of you in the Malay-Muslim community for taking the measures in your stride, for remaining steadfast and continuing to cooperate with the Government, and upholding the safe management measures. Thank you very much for your cooperation.
6. I also want to acknowledge the community leaders and religious teachers in your midst – all of whom have provided wisdom and guidance leading the community and helping the community navigate through these difficult adjustments over the past two years. But throughout these challenging times, one thing has not changed. Through the trials and tribulations that we have gone through, our gotong royong spirit has continued to thrive. Our “Singapore spirit” is stronger than ever, as we adapt to make the best of our circumstances and continue to look out for our fellow citizens.
7. We see this spirit shining strongly in our Malay-Muslim community, and here in Wisma Geylang Serai. Throughout the pandemic, Wisma Geylang Serai has embodied the saying of “muafakat membawa berkat” – that there are blessings and benefits when we forge consensus and when we work together.
8. Over the last two years, Wisma Geylang Serai held its E-Buka Puasa event online so that the community can break fast together virtually despite all the restrictions. You also supported the wider Singapore community and contributed to our national efforts in fighting Covid-19, for example, by hosting the Wisma Geylang Serai vaccination centre here for much of last year.
9. Together with your Malay-Muslim organisation partners in Kurnia@WGS, Wisma Geylang Serai has been taking care of the more vulnerable amongst us.
a. In Ramadan last year, Wisma Geylang Serai and Kurnia jointly organised a charity drive, to give 800 pairs of new baju kurung to beneficiaries from Muhammadiyah.
b. And I am glad that this Ramadan, Wisma Geylang Serai will work with Grab, the NTUC Fairprice Foundation and the Tabung Amal Aidilfitri Trust Fund, to organise a charity drive to deliver groceries to 500 beneficiaries.
c. I think DPM spoke this morning and highlighted this. These shocks may not occur in isolation – one crisis can fuel another crisis; one risk can create more risks. For example, climate change may facilitate the spread of more infectious diseases.
d. So we have to be prepared for a world where there will be additional risk, more volatility; potentially more shocks to our economy and to our society. We cannot avoid these shocks. But we can learn to be more resilient – to have the ability to go through these bumps, to take some hits, but to bounce back quickly, and emerge stronger all the time.
9. How do we do this? There are many suggestions to be more resilient. DPM shared some of them. I will share three suggestions from my perspective.
10. This year, the Ramadan and Raya campaign for Wisma Geylang Serai, as you have all already heard, is #RayaIstimewa. I think it is a very fitting theme because it is going to be a special Raya especially after yesterday’s announcement. You could not have known about the announcement earlier, so you must have planned on the theme much earlier – somehow it is quite prophetic. It is going to be special, and it is all the more special because we are going to ease up further next week and you will be able to do many more things and resume more activities this Raya.
11. Our Ramadan bazaars will return to Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam. There will be stalls selling a variety of delicious food as well as Ramadan and Raya essentials. And of course, there will be live performances while you go about your shopping.
12. As the pandemic is still not over, the bazaars will not be as large as what we were used to before Covid. So please understand, it is not going to be on the same scale. It is going to be much better than the last two years but not like what it was pre-Covid. Nevertheless, let us count our blessings; let us cherish this opportunity to visit the bazaars again, to listen to live performances, to reconnect with one another and with our family and friends. Let us make full use of this hard-earned relaxations but do so responsibly while cooperating with all the prevailing safe management measures.
13. In this long fight against Covid-19, we have been through several ups and downs, certainly over the past two years. But throughout this challenging journey, it is the spirit of gotong royong; the spirit of solidarity and unity that has enabled us to come this far. Adversity has not weakened us; instead, it has strengthened our steel and deepened our bonds. So, let us continue to look out for each other; to support our neighbours, our friends and especially the vulnerable in our community, as we strive to get through this pandemic together as one people.
14. In closing, I would like to thank the Citizens’ Consultative Committee of Geylang Serai; Kembangan-Chai Chee CC, and Marine Parade CC, for listening to the feedback from the community and putting up an impressive Hari Raya Light-up this year. I also thank Wisma Geylang Serai and all your partners for continuing to reach out to the community, engaging them and looking out for those in need.
15. My heartiest congratulations to the organisers, and I wish all our Muslim friends a blessed Ramadan in advance. Selamat Berpuasa! Thank you very much.