Unity in the face of turbulent times

Hardly anyone gave us a chance to succeed when we separated from Malaysia in the 1960s.

But we proved them wrong.

We came through every crisis-ridden decade of our existence mostly unscathed and, sometimes, the more invigorated for it ("PM: Singapore better equipped to face headwinds";  Dec 5).

We have been just a city surviving on a hodge-podge of progressively sophisticated assembly plants, oil refineries and container ports, and a growing banking and logistics business.

We also leveraged low wages and a superior geographical location.

We didn't set the agenda, since Singapore, by nature of its minute size, is a follower.

But when globalisation became the trend, we embraced it wholeheartedly.

This has led to great economic growth through increased international trade and foreign direct investment, with remarkably low inflation and unemployment, even as globalisation made us more vulnerable to competition, more sensitive to global business shifts, temporary cyclical unemployment and confrontations from social problems related to the integration of new migrants.

We have, at present, also to deal with the rising ambitions of a nascent superpower, the opening up of the Arctic's northern passage and the possibility of a new canal going through the Isthmus of Kra in Thailand - negative factors that affect our livelihoods.

This is above and beyond the impending peril from the demise of globalisation, as foretold by the ignominy of the Brexit vote and the repudiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by United States President-elect Donald Trump.

Through it all, Singaporeans can count on only one thing to navigate the nation through these turbulent waters - the indomitable will of the populace to succeed by pulling in one direction as best we can, led by an incorruptible Government that is sensitive and adaptable to the evolving needs of the day.

Failure is too painful to contemplate.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2016, with the headline 'Unity in the face of turbulent times'. Print Edition | Subscribe