Established in 1999



Subscribe to our free Weekly Internet Edition. Click HERE!






  Singapore Law





  Business Directory

  Permits & Passes




  Bank ATMs


  24-hour Outlets


  Getting Around 




  Prime Minister's New Year Message 2004


     Back to FrontPage



Together, these and other projects will create thousands of new jobs for Singaporeans. They signal firm confidence in Singapore's future.

In 2004, our economy should grow by 3 to 5%.

Turnarounds like this require not just a favourable external environment, but also a positive domestic response. Here, we have shown group solidarity to advance our collective interests.

When confronted with a weak economy, Singaporeans were united and resilient. Some started new businesses. Many made the effort to learn new skills. Everyone accepted the bitter medicine of CPF changes and wage cuts to preserve jobs and make ourselves more competitive.

And our group solidarity was at its best when we faced down SARS as one people. We put in place tough containment measures, accepted the inconveniences, and beat the virus. The partnership between the people and the Government was total. We are now better prepared to deal with SARS should it make a comeback.

These challenges we have overcome and the changes we have made to our lives will not be the last. In particular, the global economy will continue to evolve, and new and stronger competitors will emerge. Companies must continue to adapt their business strategies, while workers will have to adjust to stay employable. We cannot afford to continue old ways of doing business, or old terms of service which are no longer viable.

To make these adjustments, harmonious industrial relations are vital. Employers, workers and the Government must trust one another, in order to have consensus on how companies, and hence employees, can grow and prosper. A strong tripartite relationship has always been Singapore’s forte. It is our unique competitive edge, which we must do all we can to strengthen.

Take SIA. SIA is a metaphor for Singapore: its success, strengths, vulnerabilities and challenges mirror those of Singapore. SIA may have recovered from the SARS outbreak, but it is not back to status quo ante. The airline industry is undergoing profound changes worldwide. Low-cost carriers, longer-range aircraft and new airports in the region present SIA with formidable new challenges.

Overcoming these challenges will require the combined efforts of everyone in the company – management, pilots, cabin crew, engineers, ground staff, all workers. If the pilots refuse to fly, the airline will be grounded. Without the cabin crew’s excellent service, SIA will be no different from any other airline. If the engineers do not make the planes safe, and ground staff do not co-operate, the pilots have no planes to fly. If the management look only after their own interests and overlook those of the other stakeholders, they will lose the support of the pilots, cabin crew and other staff, and SIA will flounder.

Many other companies face similar challenges of restructuring and adaptation. They must solve these problems constructively and harmoniously, so that we can build a vibrant and dynamic economy in which everyone has a fair share of the fruits. No group of employees in Singapore should act without regard for the impact on others, or hold the company and fellow workers hostage to their narrow self-interests. This is especially so of skilled workers like pilots, who have benefited from heavy investments in training, and thus occupy well-paid positions in their company.

Finally, if we draw only one lesson from SARS, terrorism and the events in 2003, it must be that we live in an unpredictable, volatile world, and that we have to stick together to overcome these uncertainties.

Indeed, nobody else owes us a living. We have achieved a good life only because we have learned to survive and thrive as one people, always placing collective good over individual interests.

For instance, the years since the 1997 Asian financial crisis have been trying. But Singaporeans have not allowed themselves to be browbeaten, or deflated. We have stood together, and held our heads high. A younger generation of Singaporeans has shown its fighting spirit. It is not daunted by tough challenges. That is why I am upbeat about our future.

The future is what we, together, make of it. Singapore is our home. This is where we and our families can fulfil our dreams. Let us always work as one people to improve our home.

I wish all Singaporeans a happy New Year.


* Includes the researcher who was infected in September 2003.

Source: Singapore Government Press Release 1 Jan 2004