Stability, cohesion key to Singapore's success: Chan Chun Sing

They give the nation a competitive advantage in a world of flux, he says

As Singapore prepares for a leadership transition in the coming years, it needs to send a positive signal to the world about its "stability, cohesion and progressiveness", said Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing yesterday.

This is so that the Republic can continue to inspire confidence in all investors who want to invest here, to create good jobs for the people, Mr Chan said.

Singapore's stability must be treasured and taken seriously, as it has been instrumental to the country's success and is a "key competitive advantage in a world of flux", he noted.

In a 40-minute speech to his constituents, Mr Chan set out the challenges facing Singapore, from global economic uncertainties to geopolitical tensions.

He also highlighted three factors that will keep the country "successful and extraordinary".

These are stability, strong leadership and ensuring everyone progresses together, he said at a Chinese New Year dinner for Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC at Safra Mount Faber.

On stability, Mr Chan said investors will not put their money in a country if they do not know what will happen there in five to 15 years' time. Political stability is thus important for Singapore to continue to attract good investments.

POSITIVE SPIRIT

Ultimately, so long as we have the spirit to want to find new opportunities, build new capabilities, leverage on our strengths, I'm confident that we will be able to overcome the headwinds and achieve growth and benefits for all.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY MINISTER CHAN CHUN SING

Singaporeans must also remain united and cohesive, to set the country apart from the instability in the rest of the world, he noted.

He also stressed the importance of having strong and committed leaders "who have the guts to make bold decisions in the interests of Singapore and Singaporeans for the long term".

Every generation of leaders must be upfront about the challenges and opportunities Singapore has, and not shy away from making difficult decisions, Mr Chan added.

The Government and people must also never be complacent to let the system slacken or become mediocre, he said.

In his speech, Mr Chan also delved into how Singapore should manage its foreign relations in a challenging global environment, which includes the ongoing trade conflict and competition between the United States and China. Closer to home, new and old bilateral issues with Malaysia - over maritime borders, airspace management and water prices - have also surfaced.

In navigating these developments, Singapore must continue to seek constructive ties with all countries on the basis of mutual benefits and respect, Mr Chan said.

 

He added that Singapore must never take sides or be used as a proxy for others, and adopt a consistent, long-term approach.

Moving to the uncertainties that the global economy faces, Mr Chan said Singapore - as an open economy that is dependent on global trade - could face challenges.

But he said Singaporeans need not be overly pessimistic, because there remain many opportunities.

He gave the example of how Singapore can play to its strengths in the legal sector, as many companies seek certainty in jurisdictions that provide them with protection for their intellectual property.

Singapore must also not let up on efforts to strengthen and diversify the economy and make it more resilient, he added. This includes diversifying markets and supply chains so the country is never held ransom by any single market, growing the network of free trade agreements to access new opportunities, and training workers so they stay relevant to evolving job demands.

"Ultimately, so long as we have the spirit to want to find new opportunities, build new capabilities, leverage on our strengths, I'm confident that we will be able to overcome the headwinds and achieve growth and benefits for all," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 10, 2019, with the headline 'Stability, cohesion key to Singapore's success: Chan'. Print Edition | Subscribe