Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore to...Image via Wikipedia

PM Lee's May Day Message

AMID the uncertainty over when the United States can pull itself out of recession and what measures will help boost economies around the world, one thing is sure: Singaporeans must seize this time to "mount a major effort" in worker training and skills upgrading, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday in his May Day message.

While noting that Singaporeans have "reason to be quietly confident" given that the nation's economy has important strengths and "few countries are in as a secure position", Mr Lee also warned them to brace for "a prolonged difficult period".

"I urge workers to go for training, to up-skill and re-skill yourselves. If you are seeking a new job, do take up one of the many jobs still available, even if it is not your first choice," said Mr Lee.

"Have realistic salary expectations, and be willing to learn new things and adapt to different working conditions."

If global demand continues to be weak, Singaporeans can expect more job losses, despite measures announced in the Budget.

"In some sectors, things will get worse before they get better," said Mr Lee. "In the worst case, if troubled banks are not put right, the problems can drag on for several years."

He also cautioned that the Republic's access to foreign markets could become more difficult, if governments, under political pressure to help domestic producers, were forced to raise protectionist barriers.

Singapore, however, will not follow this route. "The basic strategy for Singapore must still be to stay open and linked to the world. We prosper by servicing the region, Asia and the world, and by being equal to the best in niche areas," said Mr Lee.

Singapore will continue to develop new markets, such as Latin America and Africa, and its wide network of free trade agreements with major trading partners will prove "invaluable", he added.

The country will also remain a major financial centre, especially in areas such as fund management or global treasury business.

And precisely because Singapore is an open economy, the key to being globally competitive, said Mr Lee was to "gather talent from all over the world to strengthen the Singapore team" and for the local workforce to upgrade their skills.

Mr Lee said he also expected employers to play their part.

"Think of all possible ways to save costs, and consider retrenchment only as a last resort. Make full use of government programmes and work closely with the unions. For any cost-cutting measures, management should lead by example," he added.

Singaporeans have reason to be quietly confident

Most importantly, though, "everyone must be mentally prepared, and be ready for sacrifices in these difficult times".

Nonetheless, on a more upbeat note, Mr Lee noted: "Our economy has important strengths. Our banks are sound, our industries are competitive, our wage systems are flexible, and many good jobs are still available ... Few countries are in as secure a position as Singapore."

Mr Lee summed up his message this year with the future firmly in mind.

"We must use this crisis to prepare for a different, more competitive world when the storm passes.

"We must build resilience in a new generation of Singaporeans, and strengthen their bonds with a new team of leaders. Most of all, we must unite as a nation, keep our calm, unflinching spirit and emerge stronger from the crisis," he said.

Derrick A Paulo

From TODAY, News – Friday, 01-May-2009

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Post a Comment