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Creating opportunities in a fractured new world

02 Jul 2020 2 min read

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The world has changed, and not for the better.

This change could affect investments, jobs and social harmony in Singapore.

But Singapore has the resources to create new opportunities.

Said Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean, “In Singapore, over the last 5-6 decades, we have been able to create something quite special – a country that is able to progress with very little resources except our people, unity, drive, determination. That is really precious, and which we should take into future.”

Together with Christopher De Souza, Saktiandi Supaat and Gan Siow Huang, the quartet were speaking at a session on 30 June which was part of the “Straight Talk with PAP” series, comprising virtual conferences where PAP leaders put the spotlight on policy and issues.

Their focus was on the “Impact of the new geopolitical landscape on investment, jobs, social harmony.”

The world today

Today, the world is one where world leaders might not work together to solve global problems.

Mr Teo said, “Now, crises have become opportunities for people to quarrel even more fiercely with each other. The prospect of global solutions is less likely.”

Ethnic conflict is also on the rise.

He added, “As a small open country, what happens in the world and region has a big impact on Singapore. We can’t just live on our own.”

Creating Opportunities

But when it comes to investments, jobs and social harmony, Singapore has what it takes to emerge stronger.

When it comes to social harmony, while many countries around the world today are in conflict, Singapore can preserve social harmony by ensuring that people have jobs, and that everyone has equal opportunities to do better in life.

Said Christopher De Souza, pointing out how efforts were made to ensure that all students had access to laptops during the period of home-based learning, “Social harmony equals maximum opportunities to rise with the tide, across many key parts of society including in education, housing, health, upskilling and re-skilling.”

Religious harmony which already exists in Singapore is a pillar of this harmony. He gave an example of how, during Ramadan, a Buddhist lodge in his Ulu Pandan ward donated rice to a mosque, that cooked it into a dessert which was distributed by members of a church together with their Hindu friends.

On jobs, Ms Gan said that the government has been “decisive” in setting up a National Jobs Council and “ambitious” to create 100,000 jobs and training places.

“This is not an easy feat, but if we can pull it off, that can cushion the impact of COVID-19.”

She also pointed out that the Industry Transformation Maps which were unveiled in 2016 are still relevant in helping industries to cope with structural changes and prepare for the future.

Mr Teo added, “If any country can do it, we can do it, because of the unique tripartite partnership we have between unions, business and government. That is the model PAP has worked on since our foundation. It’s not a confrontational model but a cooperative one.

“Our value proposition in the world is based on connectivity, trust and knowledge. If we can maintain these as the basis for our economy, we can find our niche in the world.”