SINGAPORE – Singaporeans must remain united, maintain the go-getting spirit, and uphold the countrys good standing in the world, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday.

Amid an unprecedented global situation that is graver than what Singapore has experienced for a very long time, it is important that the nation stays united. Singapore must not allow itself to be divided along fault lines or turn inwards like what other countries with larger populations and domestic markets are doing, he said.

PM Lee spent over a third of his 50-minute speech in Parliament laying out the challenges facing Singapore strategically and economically, and the implications for the country.

While Singapores relationships with neighbours such as Indonesia and Malaysia are close, stable and encouraging, the situation further afield has turned much more troubling, even dangerous, he warned.

Singaporeans need to realise the gravity of the external situation. We are facing not just one storm, but several, he said on the third day of the debate on the Presidents Address. The address had laid out the key priorities of the Government going into the second session of the 14th Parliament.

The storms include the Russia-Ukraine war, deepening hostility between the United States and China, as well as protectionism undermining the multilateral trading system.

PM Lee called for continued unity as he noted that Singaporeans have come through repeated challenges over the last six decades because they have worked together, taken adversity in their stride, and kept faith with one another.

Elsewhere, opposing groups are getting worked up, mobilising their followers, and pitting citizens against each other, said PM Lee.

In Singapore, when faced with a divisive issue, our approach has always been to find a middle way, bridge the differences, strike compromises and heal divisions. Not grand posturing; not playing cultural or identity politics; not dividing and polarising people, he said.

Our instinct always is to keep Singaporeans together. We have to keep on thinking and acting like this. Please do not take our harmony for granted. It is a very precious thing, and very fragile. We must continuously work on it, and build up our social cohesion and national strength.

The troubled external environment will create new stresses and strains in society, which must not divide Singaporeans along fault lines in society, such as the haves versus have nots, or locals versus foreigners, or between different races and religions, said PM Lee. Remote video URL High inflation from the war will cause difficulties for many households, especially lower- and middle-income families, he said.

Tensions between China and the US will expose the population to emotional pulls, commercial pressures and influence campaigns, from one side or the other, to take their point of view and support their cause.

There will also be more uncertain growth and greater disruption with the fracturing of the global trading system.

In this new troubled world, it is all the more important for us to close ranks. Divided, we stand no chance, he said.

We must not shy away from hard choices, but deal squarely with difficult issues based on facts and sound analysis. More On This Topic PM Lee outlines 3 geopolitical storms Singapore faces Support 4G leaders to keep Singapores system working well, says PM Lee Apart from remaining united, it is equally important that Singaporeans have the go-getting spirit of self-reliance and enterprise, to create prosperity for the nation and achieve the best they can in a very troubled world, said PM Lee.

This is an attitude Singapore has always had and has not forgotten, he noted, citing examples of Singaporeans who have ventured overseas as far as Rwanda.

But we are not just asking Singaporeans to work harder as individuals. We have a strategy to make a living for our nation as a global city and an international hub. It will be tough, because globalisation is going the wrong way, said PM Lee.

He noted that larger countries may be able to afford the costs of turning inward, but as a small island state Singapore cannot.

Our survival depends on our being able to do business with the world, to deliver value to others. So our strategy must be to double down on staying open and connected to the world, and continue making ourselves useful as a global city and an international hub.

But staying open and connected means being exposed to competition from the world, so Singapore must maintain its edge by continually upgrading capabilities and building new ones. It must also transform and restructure the economy to stay abreast of new technologies and industries, he added.

The quality of the countrys government and leaders matter, too, he added. As part of leadership renewal, the 4G ministers are increasingly responsible for the safety and well-being of the country, PM Lee said as he called on Singaporeans to elect leaders they trust to take the country forward.

He also urged people to embrace the outsized ambition and effort of earlier generations for the city-state to be an exceptional place in the world.

This means continuing to uphold Singapores good international reputation, turning opportunities into successes and keeping consistent principles.

This is the way for Singapore to be taken seriously, and to count for more than our size. We may be a small island state, but we are not a small people, and neither are our hearts nor our aspirations. Let us think boldly, aim high, and seek far. More On This Topic S'pores foreign policy driven by principles, not a balancing act: Sim Ann Have the courage to change where change is needed: DPM Wong on 5 key shifts for S'pore

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