Significant progress made against Covid-19, but challenges ahead no less daunting: Chan Chun Sing

Singapore is working with like-minded partners to forge ahead in areas such as new trade rules. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans should not let their guard down even though the country has achieved much in the fight against the disease in the past months, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said on Sunday (Feb 14).

Singapore has put in tremendous effort to combat the pandemic but the challenges ahead are no less daunting, he said at a virtual Chinese New Year celebration event.

Much work remains to be done, such as the need to strengthen the Republic's position in the global value chain, and helping companies and workers stay resilient and competitive.

Singapore is working with like-minded partners to forge ahead in areas such as new trade rules, and will press on with efforts to create an innovation-led and sustainable economy, he added.

He was speaking during Spring Reception 2021, an annual event jointly organised by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) and the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA).

The event brings together representatives from the local Chinese community and various ethnic groups to exchange well-wishes and aspirations for the new year. It also aims to present a platform to encourage greater appreciation of Chinese values and culture.

About 250 people, including other political leaders such as Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling, attended the event which took place on Zoom.

Mr Chan said this year's Chinese New Year celebrations were certainly different but no less significant.

Referring to the fight against Covid-19, he said: "We are at a critical stage of the battle and we cannot let our guard down."

The progress that Singapore has made is in no small part due to the resilience and cohesion of its people, he said.

Participants at the virtual Spring Reception 2021, jointly organised by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, sharing Chinese New Year greetings on Feb 14, 2021. PHOTO: SCCC

"Our forefathers displayed grit and hard work and responded to challenging situations with an enterprising spirit and a never-say-die attitude to leave us what we have. We should do so similarly for our future generations.

"I have faith that our community will continue to embody this spirit as we progress on this long road to recovery."

Mr Chan disclosed that a foreign reporter had asked him about Singapore's "secret formula" in fighting Covid-19. He responded by sharing the country's approach to testing, tracking and tracing, quarantine, social habits and personal hygiene.

He said the reporter was surprised that the minister did not share anything startling.

The opening drum performance by percussion ensemble Drum Feng at the Spring Reception 2021, held at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre on Feb 14, 2021, in Singapore. PHOTO: SCCC

Mr Chan said: "In the end, he observed correctly that what we did was nothing secret. But what was special was our ability to do the simple things consistently, in a disciplined and cohesive manner, that distinguished us from many others."

This cohesion, he said, was a reflection of the high trust among people, communities, and between people and government.

Community organisations such as the SFCCA and clan associations have, and will, continue to play a key role in this, he added.

He noted that the SFCCA has led efforts to rally member associations to donate essential items to those who need help, while volunteers from the SFCCA's youth committee also prepared care packs and distributed them to front-liners.

"Thanks to you, we have been able to respond well to the crisis, and we are confident of emerging stronger from this," said Mr Chan.

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