Staying united key to Singapore’s survival in increasingly troubled world: PM Lee

A united Singapore is key to Singapore’s survival and is the only way to deal with challenges in an increasingly troubled world, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“We must look to our Total Defence, and maintain a strong and credible SAF and Home Team. We must also brace ourselves and be psychologically prepared that in the next decades our region may not be as peaceful and stable as it has been thus far.”

In his National Day message on Aug 8, he said that even as Singapore is in a much better place in our battle against Covid-19, the road ahead will not be easy as a storm is gathering around us, citing the various geo-political tensions in the world.

“US-China relations are worsening, with intractable issues, deep suspicions, and limited engagement between them. This is unlikely to improve anytime soon. Furthermore, miscalculations or mishaps can easily make things much worse,” he said.

In addition, the Ukraine war has profound implications for the world and for Singapore.

“The invasion violates fundamental principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity under the United Nations Charter. This is particularly vital to Singapore, because these principles underpin our security, and even our existence,” he said.

The conflict in Europe also posed regional security in the Asia-Pacific.

“Already it has further strained China’s relations with the US, and with America’s partners in Asia. Singapore will be buffeted by intense rivalry and tensions in the region around us.”

Cost of living

Another top of mind topic is cost of living and the Government is doing everything necessary to help Singaporeans cope with rising prices, said PM Lee.

“We have announced multiple support packages, targeting assistance to those who need it most. Some measures have already been implemented, and more will be rolled out in the coming months.”

The Government also tightened the exchange rate policy and strengthened the Singapore dollar to dampen imported inflation.

PM Lee promised that the Government is ready to do more to help Singaporeans if things worsen.

The era of low inflation levels and interest rates is not likely to return anytime soon and Singapore’s response must be to transform the industry, upgrade skills and raise productivity.

“Then our wages can go up higher than inflation, and Singaporeans can earn more in real terms year by year.”

Planning ahead

Speaking from the Gardens by the Bay, PM Lee noted that 2022 is the Gardens’ 10th anniversary, but the Gardens were actually decades in the making.

When land reclamation began to create Marina South about 50 years ago, the Government decided to have at its heart and iconic green public space and not just buildings.

“This is how we do things in Singapore – always daring to dream, setting our sights on the next frontier, and searching for better solutions and fresh possibilities. We look and plan ahead not just for the next five or 10 years, but for the next 30 or 50 years and beyond,” said PM Lee.

Long-term plans are not just about physical infrastructure but also to maintain economic progress and social resilience by investing in Singaporeans, taking care of the elderly and vulnerable and fostering a common identity.

“Each generation should be able to aim higher and bolder, to build a better Singapore than the one they inherited. DPM Lawrence Wong and the 4G team have launched the Forward Singapore exercise, to involve citizens in refreshing our social compact, and to chart our way forward together. I invite you to participate actively, contribute your ideas, and help to shape our future Singapore.”

Do not fear

In closing, PM Lee urged Singaporeans to never stop imagining and building the Singapore we want.

“Covid-19 will not be Singapore’s last crisis. More storms and turbulence lie ahead. But do not fear. As long as we stay united and resolute, we can keep our nation peaceful and secure, build a more prosperous economy, and forge an inclusive society that all of us can belong to and can be proud of, for many years to come.”

Cover photo credit: PMO