“We must not undermine what has made us successful, by closing ourselves off from the world”, said Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat in a speech on Tuesday (Sep 15).

He was delivering the keynote address at the FutureChina Global Forum, themed A Resilient Future: Post-Pandemic Transformation & Opportunities in China and ASEAN, and emphasized that Singapore must continue to remain open to the rest of the world.

DPM Heng said that even as Singapore reviews its work pass policies, it needs to remain open as this is part of how China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can make globalisation work for all. In an era of “tremendous change”, businesses must also create partnerships to emerge stronger from the crisis, he added.

“In Singapore, we are adjusting our policies to ensure that they continue to serve the interests of our people,” he said.

DPM Heng continued: “We are reviewing our work pass policies, strengthening fair consideration, enhancing efforts to upskill our workers and strengthening our social safety nets for those affected by economic disruption”, referring to how the Ministry of Manpower announced last month that it will raise the minimum qualifying salary for new Employment Pass and S Pass applicants to continue to encourage fair hiring, particularly in the current economic climate.

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“But we must not undermine what has made us successful, by closing ourselves off from the world”, he added.

According to a CNA report, DPM Heng said Singapore must work closely with like-minded partners to keep its trade lines and supply chains open, adding that ASEAN and China are committed to mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on trade and investment.

He reiterated the bilateral commitment between Singapore and China to promote regional cooperation, as 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Singapore-China diplomatic relations.

“We saw a 20 per cent increase in trade volume in the first half of this year, despite COVID-19, through this corridor”, he noted.

DPM noted that Southeast Asia’s ties with China “go way back” over a thousand years ago.

“More than a thousand years ago, there was already a vibrant trading network between China and Southeast Asia, and between our region and the world, as shown by the discovery of a ninth-century shipwreck in the Java Sea, containing Tang Dynasty ceramics bound for the Middle East,” he explained. /TISG