We can distil Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s speech in Parliament this Wednesday (Apr 19) into one broad but important theme: Trust.
Now, trust is not earned easily, nor given lightly. And it is needed in this very troubled global era for Singaporeans to have a seat at the world table and to keep Singapore united and prospering domestically.
PM Lee highlighted the ongoing war in Ukraine, increasing rivalry and distrust between the great world powers and weaponised bilateral trade routes as problems which can sow discord in Singapore.
However, so long as Singaporeans have (and foster) trust enough to stay united, have a go-getting spirit, uphold our reputation globally, and keep our system going, our little island-state will still be taken seriously and count for more than just our size, outlined PM Lee.
In summary, this is how:
1. Stay united
“Divided, we stand no chance,” stated PM Lee clearly.
So, the PAP Government has worked for decades to build a harmonious multi-racial society. It avoids tribalism and identity politics which can only divide our shared home.
And when divisive issues cropped up recently, they were handled in order to keep different communities trusting each other. Muslim nurses can wear the tudung while working now, for example. Section 377A was repealed late last year even while constitutionally strengthening the institution of marriage.
“Our instinct always is to keep Singaporeans together,” said PM Lee.
Source: Lee Hsien Loong / Facebook
“We have to keep on thinking and acting like this. Please do not take our harmony for granted. It is a very precious thing, and very fragile.”
“We must nurture the deep and precious trust that we have — between the Government and people, and also among Singaporeans. And work hand-in-hand towards a shared vision of our future,” he added.
Taking part in the Forward Singapore exercise is useful here; it brings Singaporeans together to refresh our social compact and the Government is using it to come up with a collective roadmap for our way forward.
2. A go-getting spirit
Singaporeans should also trust that the same go-getting spirit of our pioneers will work for us today.
PM Lee quoted the words of Former Deputy Prime Minister S Rajaratnam: “Industrial development requires at all times a sustained effort, a willingness to mobilise savings, a readiness to take risks, a propensity for innovation, a passionate vision of the future, a willingness to make the painful adjustments required by modernisation and, most important of all, a readiness on the part of the people as a whole to postpone immediate rewards for greater gains in the future.”
“‘If we are not prepared to pay this price’, he said, then there ‘will be little or no economic development,’” continued PM Lee.
Our pioneers heeded Rajaratman’s words, building a strong nation despite the withdrawal of the British forces and many more subsequent crises.
So here, Singaporeans can also keep their trust in globalisation and the value of delayed gratification today.
We can act alongside the PAP Government to stay connected to the world. This in diverse fields including advanced manufacturing, finance and AI development, and by keeping Singapore a magnet for global talent and investments.
3. Upholding Singapore’s reputation
Concurrently, Brand Singapore is trusted worldwide. Foreign people and powers know that Singporeans are hardworking, honest and highly-skilled and that Singapore has a stable government with the PAP — they know that our policies and principles will not get reversed each time an election comes round.
The world knows too that Singaporeans will make their mark on the world stage when called upon.
Just to name two: Rena Lee presided successfully over negotiations on a complex United Nations Agreement on marine diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction as Singapore’s Ambassador for Oceans and Law of the Sea Issues. Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is chairing the Global Commission on the Economics of Water, representing us at the United Nations.
“This is a precious asset in an uncertain world,” said PM Lee of this global trust in Brand Singapore, especially after Covid-19.
“So I ask all Singaporeans …to uphold our country’s reputation, especially when you are overseas.”
“Make full use of the Singapore brand. But remember: never sully it. Build on it. Enhance it for future generations.”
“A high international reputation makes all the difference to Singapore.”
4. Keeping our system going
A difference-maker too is the quality of Singapore’s government and leaders.
Honesty and integrity is important in public life, and the best chance that Singapore has against fracture and fallout.
“The 4G team is in place,” said PM Lee.
Indeed, it was their strong political leadership which set the direction for us Singaporeans and the public service to have one of the world’s best responses to the pandemic.
We must trust them and give them our support while they become increasingly responsible for Singapore’s safety, in the same way we have (and nurture) the trust to stay united, competitive and globally connected.
All this while DPM Lawrence Wong helms the 4G team, determinedly fostering a new social compact and earning the benefits of its trust alongside Singaporeans.
“Help me make this leadership renewal a success for Singapore and for you,” said PM Lee.
“Show your support for a government that works hard — and works well! — for you.”
Source: Lee Hsien Loong / Facebook