Even though the next few years will be a disruptive and difficult time for everyone, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong assured Singaporeans, "Despite these immense challenges, I say to you: Do not fear. Do not lose heart."
In a national broadcast on Sunday, June 7, PM Lee said the world will not be returning to the open and connected global economy of the recent past, anytime soon.
With restricted movements, less frequent international travels and health checks and quarantines becoming a new norm, "it will no longer be so easy to take quick weekend trips to Bangkok or Hong Kong on a budget flight."
Industries that depend on travel – such as aviation, hotels and tourism – will take a long time to get back on their feet, and may never recover fully.
In the speech, PM Lee also spoke about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Singapore, its economy and beyond. He outlined schemes and the next steps that the government will be taking to help the country emerge stronger from the crisis.
Noting that the island state has, even before the time of Raffles, "made a living by connecting ourselves with the world", the prime minister said Singapore has historically benefited enormously from an open and connected global economy.
"Large parts of our economy serve regional and world markets. Even many domestic sectors – like retail, F&B, and entertainment – rely heavily on tourism."
However, PM Lee said Singapore has economic strengths, as well as an international reputation built up over many decades. "We are highly connected to the global flows of trade, investment, capital and people."
The country is also "well placed to connect ourselves to the new channels and flows, and create new businesses and jobs to replace those lost".
He added, "We just have to work harder and smarter at it."