Important to look back at 2018 and learn lessons

It is important for Singaporeans to look back at 2018 and appreciate the events that have taken place (Politics: Year of transition; Dec 17).

Indeed, this year has been full of opportunities and challenges that gripped the imagination of Singaporeans.

First, Singapore was in the international spotlight. A series of high-profile international events, from hosting the Trump-Kim summit to spearheading regional and global initiatives as Asean chair, allowed Singaporeans to witness the nation's foreign policy achievements.

However, Singaporeans should not get complacent over the nation's growing international prestige. Instead, we must continue to think of further ways to realise the nation's potential in foreign policy matters and for Singapore to always stay relevant and competitive on the international stage.

But being at the heart of global attention does not mean Singapore is not without external problems. As the year draws to a close, external challenges continue to test the nation's vigilance and preparedness.

Disputes with our neighbouring country remind Singaporeans that dark clouds remain hovering above our nation's horizon. As Singapore grapples with old problems and tackles new challenges, it is imperative for Singaporeans to stay united and prepared.

Second, 2018 saw an active domestic front too. Clarity on the fourth-generation leadership raised new expectations and opened new doors for opportunities and possibilities.

The year saw the setting-up of a parliamentary committee to tackle fake news as well as nationwide discussions on Section 377A. There was also active political engagement from Singaporeans as new, important political issues surfaced.

These should remind Singaporeans about the importance of maintaining and securing domestic stability, and to always keep an eye on our surroundings as we embrace the future.

Essentially, 2018 has been like a box that opened up diverse possibilities and opportunities for Singapore. We must bear in mind that in the nation's long journey ahead, opportunities and challenges are often companions.

As the nation explores new possibilities and embraces new opportunities in the future, we must not let our guard down, and must remain prepared to tackle challenges both old and new.

This year has been one full of reckoning and memories; 2019 will be a year filled with expectations and possibilities.

Michael Zhou Xizhuang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2018, with the headline 'Important to look back at 2018 and learn lessons'. Print Edition | Subscribe