It’s been a long wait. But F1 racing’s finally back in Marina Bay this weekend! The world is watching, naturally (and here’re #protips on how you can get better views).
“Naturally” because there’s a good chance here’s where the World Championship gets decided. Marina Bay always gets drivers levelling up for legendary performances. Plus, Alpine and McLaren are unveiling sweet new #carswithoutlimits tech.
All this would’ve been impossible just last year. And the one before.
We all know why.
So this high-octane #gofast Grand Prix? It’s basically our first “We back, yo!” party to the world. We can be proud to say “Hi”, “G’day”, “你好”, “Hej” and so much more to our international friends once again.
SMMs yesterday let us open spectacularly today
Proud since Singapore’s navigated the previous two years excellently. Overall, we’re feeling *quite a bit* more united than during the before times, which bucks the global trend from a Pew Research Centre 19-country survey.
Back then, the Government implemented one of the world’s most effective public health programmes, testing very early on all influenza-like and pneumonia cases, and tracing their contacts.
The Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said at that time we were “leaving no stone unturned”.
We were the first Asian country to get vaccines, and soon had among the highest percentage of fully-vaccinated people in the world.
We made sacrifices too — remember the Circuit Breaker and home-based learning for the sake of each other and our families?
Now, Safe Management Measures (SMMs) are relaxed; we generally don’t need to wear masks outside these days unless we’re on public transport or in medical facilities.
We can also meet in large groups and settings/events capacity isn’t limited any more — dining places on top of Marina Bay Sands, for example, were chock-full Thursday (Sep 28) night.
More de-escalation is scheduled once Singapore becomes even more Covid-resilient.
This is why we can have #nicethings like the F1 today.
And all these point to the trust between Government and people.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his Party Convention 2021 speech that one big reason why our measures against Covid-19 are working is because Singaporeans trust the PAP Government.
“They trust the PAP Government will keep everyone safe, and keep Singapore in working order.
“That if people catch Covid-19, they will get proper medical treatment. That if we have a lockdown, affected workers and businesses will be taken care of. That supermarkets will be stocked, and essential services will not be disrupted.”
Also featuring in Singapore: Charlie Puth and long-term planning
Tourism’s back too.
This weekend’s F1 fun started with the Government slowly, slooowly re-opening our borders to prevent shocks to the healthcare system. So much so that the question became, in normally-staid international media, “When will Singapore unseal its border?” And even then, they noted that we were “well prepared”, based on public health indicators.
Now, arrivals are picking up. Six million visitors are expected here for 2022. Compared to 90,000 in 2020 and 330,000 in 2021, that’s a jump.
So for this weekend, hotel prices are the most expensive they’ve been in a decade. And the F1’s giving Singapore the edge over regional rivals in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions (MICE) race.
(We note here that Singapore’s the first Asian country where the Grand Prix is resumed. Japan follows us in early October.)
More events and concerts are planned. Charlie Puth and Klook, too, have been roped in to showcase our island as the tourist destination for the region.
This overnight influx to party up, by the by, isn’t from an overnight snap of the fingers. Little good inevitably comes from that.
The Government, you see, renewed the Grand Prix contract back in January 2022 for seven more years.
This lets us get more of that pent-up travel demand.
“The renewal will help sustain Singapore’s reputation as a global city with a vibrant lifestyle, attracting international visitors as travel rebounds, and generating business revenue and jobs for Singaporeans,” said Minister for Transport S Iswaran back in January.
Oh, and this renewal is while making, with renewable energy sources and turning food waste into compost, the F1 manifestly sustainable.
Because in Singapore, we plan long-term. In fact, we literally build for the long term. A stable Government and political system together give us this luxury.
So all this is to say, head to the Bay this weekend.
At the race, Max Verstappen’s the talk of the town, plus “he’s very excited to come here because the track is amazing to drive”.
Around it, there’s heaps to do and see on your big day out.
It’ll be good because Singapore’s been resilient. Like any athlete knows, it’s not about falling down.
It’s about getting up and taking steps to prevent falling down again — that’s how we rev forward.
Cover photo credit: Singapore Grand Prix