Be ready for a ‘very different future’, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

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Lee says the “world is entering a more troubled period” and wants Singaporeans to be ready to face future challenges. File Photo: AFP

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called on Singaporeans to “constantly come up with fresh ideas” and be “ready to break new ground” to remain competitive and bolster the country’s economic prowess as the state is not insulated from global risks.

He cautioned that the “world is entering a more troubled period” and Singapore should be ready to face future challenges in all aspects.

“We face grave challenges. 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. 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. We must get ourselves ready for a very different future,” Lee said in his National Day speech on Thursday.

He said Singapore’s economy has slowed down this year as global demand and international trade continue to weaken.

“This has affected our manufacturing sector and trade-related services. In particular, we are feeling the worldwide cyclical downswing for electronics – which performed strongly last year.

“But other parts of our economy are still doing well. 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,”added Lee.

Singapore, he added, continues to make good progress in transforming its industries. It is now servicing advanced jet turbines and venturing into fintech services, among others.

“Agencies like Enterprise Singapore are helping entrepreneurs and companies to strengthen, scale up and expand into the international market. We are also making good progress re-skilling and upgrading our workforce to be future ready.

“Skills Future is building up the skills of tens of thousands of Singaporeans, helping them be more productive and employable, and preparing them for the new jobs being created.

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

Besides, the government will continue to promote affordable education for its citizens.

“ By continuing to invest heavily in our people, we enable each one of us to take advantage of new opportunities at every stage of life. This 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. And I know parents are making the effort to bring up children well, with the right character and values.

“We intend to make preschool and tertiary education even more affordable, especially for lower and middle-income families. To help older Singaporeans, we have protected them for their healthcare and retirement needs. For those who wish to work longer, we will be raising the retirement and the re-employment ages,” said Lee.