Singapore needs to remain open to the world, says PM Lee in New Year message

In his 2020 New Year message, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the importance of Singapore staying open and connected in a world fraught with uncertainty. 

“We must resist the temptation to turn inwards,” PM Lee said, adding that the island state has benefited enormously from globalisation. 

Many societies around the world are under stress, the most recently Hong Kong, Chile and France, he noted. The loss of faith in economic and political systems, and pessimism about the future have fuelled nativism and chauvinism, and sectarian strife. 

Image: Screenshot of video from Prime Minister's Office
Image: Screenshot of video from Prime Minister's Office

“Everywhere globalisation seems to be in retreat.” PM Lee said, emphasising that “a Singapore turned inwards cannot survive.” 

The Prime Minister also spoke about the measures being taken by the Singapore government to improve the lives of its citizens, starting with the education system. 

“We are lowering fees of pre-schools and raising their quality, to give every child a good start in life. We are changing the PSLE scoring system to reduce pressure on our students. We are opening more post-secondary education pathways to bring out the best in every student,” he said. 

After students graduate and enter the workforce, “SkillsFuture will support their lifelong learning journey,” PM Lee added.

In terms of housing, enhanced subsidies for first-time home buyers have helped more young families own their homes. Existing HDB towns continue to undergo upgradation programmes and heartlands are being refreshed. 

“At the same time, we are keeping a close eye on more immediate risks and pressures,” said PM Lee. While the global economic slowdown has affected Singapore, the economy managed to avoid a recession last year. “Our economy is still growing, but less vigorously than we would like.” 

In the upcoming Budget, which will be released on February 18, measures will be announced to support businesses to raise their productivity and build new capabilities. “We will help workers, especially mid-career PMETs, to retrain, acquire new skills, find new jobs and stay employable. We will help households with their cost of living. We will improve social safety nets that protect the poor, the elderly, and the vulnerable,” the Prime Minister said.