‘Troubled period’ for world ahead, but Singapore will invest and support its people: PM Lee

10-Aug-2019 Intellasia | TodayOnline | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Singapore will face economic and existential threats as the world enters a “troubled period”, but the government will continue to invest in Singaporeans to achieve their potential in the long term and help those with needs, prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day message.

Delivering the message on Thursday (August 8) at Jewel Changi Airport, Lee said that the government intends to make preschool and tertiary education “even more affordable, especially for lower- and middle-income families”, as well as raise the retirement and re-employment ages for those who wish to work longer.

He added that he would delve into these issues along with older Singaporeans’ healthcare and retirement needs during the National Day Rally on August 18.

This year, Singapore’s economy has slowed down due to weakened global demand and international trade, he noted, with the manufacturing sector and trade-related services taking a hit.

“In particular, we are feeling the worldwide cyclical downswing for electronics which performed strongly last year.”

However, other parts of Singapore’s economy are still doing well and he is confident that the country will be able to weather the slump.

“We have experienced such slowdowns before, and we will take this one in our stride. Should it become necessary to stimulate the economy, we will do so.”

While the economic downturn remains a primary concern, Lee also highlighted that “the world is entering a more troubled period”.

“We face grave challenges,” he said. “One economic uncertainties, with trade and globalisation under pressure.

“Two strategic risks, with growing frictions between the major powers.

“And three existential threats, with global warming and rising sea levels.”

He added that Singapore will not be immune to these global problems. “On the economic front, they will disrupt supply chains, alter trade patterns and shift investment flows.”

He thus cautioned Singaporeans to prepare themselves for “a very different future”.


Even so, Lee said that each time the “world changed”, Singapore has managed to survive.

“Our past gives us confidence. Throughout our history, when trials and tribulations have beset us, we picked ourselves up, and worked together to overcome them.

“Each time, we reinvented and renewed our economy, our people and our city, and we thrived again. And this is what we must keep on doing.”

On the economic front, Singapore is “making good progress” in transforming industries, he noted.

“We are servicing advanced jet turbines, researching new cures for diseases, and pushing boundaries in fintech (financial technology) services. Our seaport and airport are expanding to meet the growing demands of a dynamic Asia. The two integrated resorts, or IRs, are being enhanced to attract more tourists.”

Singapore’s tech and startup scenes are also “flourishing”, he said, with government agencies such as Enterprise Singapore helping entrepreneurs and companies to expand into the international market.


The workforce is also being reskilled and upgraded to be “future-ready”, he said, referring to how SkillsFuture initiatives are building up the skills of “tens of thousands of Singaporeans”, which will help workers to be more productive and employable, while preparing them for new jobs that are created.

“All these structural measures will not only address our longer term challenges, but also help see us through a more immediate downturn.”

While the government will continue to invest heavily in people, Lee stressed that it is a “joint endeavour”.

“The government will keep on helping every citizen to achieve your potential and contribute your best to Singapore. Each one of us must strive to improve ourselves, do our best, and chase our dreams,” he said.

In staying ahead of competition, Lee said that it is important to constantly “renew” and “remake” the city as well.

Recounting an exchange with a foreign leader, Lee said that the leader had said he recognised Singapore when he flew over the island city.

“He knew at once that he was over Singapore, because he could see that every corner of the island had been meticulously thought through and lovingly tended every housing precinct, every landmark, every patch of park and greenery.”

Turning to Jewel Changi Airport, Lee held it up as an example of a development that stood out for Singapore.


“We are very proud of our new gateway to the world. It reminds us (of) what makes this country special,” he said, lauding it not just for its landscaped features but also how it shows that Singaporeans have “creativity” and a “boldness to reinvent”, with the “passion and competence to turn dreams into reality”.

“The Changi team conceived the concept of Jewel nine years ago, when Changi Airport was facing intense competition,” Lee recalled. “Since its opening, Jewel has captured the imagination of both Singaporeans and visitors, and rightly so.”

Lee warned though, that other cities and airports are already planning to emulate Jewel, and “perhaps even do it bigger and better”.

To stay in front of the pack, Lee said that Singapore must always innovate and be ready to break new ground.

He also called on Singaporeans to work together to thrive in an uncertain world and take on challenges to explore new horizons.

“What limits our possibilities is not the physical size of our island, but the ingenuity of our people and the boldness of our spirit.”



Category: Singapore

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