Keeping faith in globalisation, but system must work for Singaporeans: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that when Singapore does have to make a stand, it is important that people understand that Singapore's choices are on its own behalf.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that when Singapore does have to make a stand, it is important that people understand that Singapore's choices are on its own behalf.PHOTO: MCI

DAVOS (Switzerland) • At a time when globalisation is under pressure around the world, Singapore has to continue to bet on countries cooperating closely with one another, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

It has to up its game, raise its capabilities and bring in new investments that will connect it to centres of vibrancy and prosperity worldwide, and enable it to make a contribution to this growth, he added.

"We can do things in Singapore, which are not so easy to be done, all together in one place. That means we have to upgrade our companies, our people, education, skills, and have the environment where we can welcome in very high-quality investments, operations, R&D centres, places where high-quality people want to live, work, want to be.

"It is not just costs, it is also the whole environment - the safety, the security, the confidence, the opportunities, the vibrancy," he said.

But the system must also work for Singaporeans, he stressed at a 30-minute dialogue with World Economic Forum president Borge Brende yesterday. "If it doesn't work for them, the system will fail," he added. "And in Singapore, we must not fail because we only have one chance to succeed."

"We have to look after our own people, make sure that all these good things which happen in the world benefit not just Singapore, but benefit Singaporeans - across the board - so that they are able to take advantage of the jobs that we create, so that they are able to fend for themselves against global competition," said PM Lee.

"So that if one industry is declining, which will happen from time to time, the people there are given the help, the support and the time to gain new skills, and transfer their employment to another industry, another job and be able to make a living for themselves and not feel that they are fending for themselves on their own, that the system is not on their side."

PM Lee also spoke about challenges posed by the US turning inward and a rising China, and how Singapore plans to navigate its way in a more challenging environment.

 
 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2020, with the headline 'Keeping faith in globalisation, but system must work for S'poreans: PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe