Singapore must stay open and connected to the world even as many societies lose faith in globalisation, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Having benefited enormously from globalisation, it must resist the temptation to turn inwards, he cautioned in his annual New Year message.
"A Singapore turned inwards cannot survive."
He noted that the current state of the world worries Singaporeans, as the global slowdown has affected the economy. In November, the Trade and Industry Ministry said the economy is expected to have grown by 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent last year.
But PM Lee assured Singaporeans that the upcoming Budget will have measures to help businesses, workers and families, as well as the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable.
While companies will get help to raise their productivity and build new capabilities, workers, especially mid-career PMETs - professionals, managers, executives and technicians - will be given a hand to retrain, find new jobs and stay employable, he added.
Social safety nets will be improved, and "we will help households with their cost of living", PM Lee said in his message recorded at the Bicentennial Experience exhibition in Fort Canning.
In Singapore, the aim is to build a fair and just society, where growth and prosperity benefit everyone, he said.
He noted that "we are in a better position than most countries because for decades, we have toiled to improve our people's lives". He pointed to Singapore reforming its education system by changing the PSLE scoring system, and opening more post-secondary education pathways. The pre-schools are getting better, and fees more affordable.
In housing, first-time buyers are getting more subsidies, while healthcare has improved for more seniors with the new Merdeka Generation Package.
In transport, the MRT system is now one of the most reliable in the world, with fewer than one breakdown every one million km travelled on average, he noted.
PM Lee said that ideals such as uplifting the vulnerable and building a fair and just society will enable Singaporeans to remain "one united people" and prevail despite the odds.
There was never any guarantee of success at any time in Singapore's history, he noted.
"But if we stand together and keep making the effort, I am confident Singapore can continue to shine brightly in the world."
The Straits Times
"A Singapore turned inwards cannot survive"
- PM Lee