AsiaGlobal Voices

Trending Opinions From Across the Region

AsiaGlobal Voices is a curated feed of summaries of opinion articles, columns and editorials published in local languages in media from across Asia.

The publication of AsiaGlobal Voices summaries does not indicate any endorsement by the Asia Global Institute or AsiaGlobal Online of the opinions expressed in them.
When Politicians Commit Moral Mistakes in Private
Tuesday, August 1, 2023
When Politicians Commit Moral Mistakes in Private

Ang Yiting, assistant editor-in-chief, in Lianhe Zaobao (July 30, 2023)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes (Photo credit:

When Politicians Commit Moral Mistakes in Private

The most intriguing thing about the two politicians – Nicole Seah Xue Ling of the Workers’ Party (WP) and the Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan Jin of the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) – resigning from their parties is not the coincidence and the consequences but that they both involved extramarital affairs. The leaders of their respective parties learned of both romances after the 2020 general election but the situations dragged on for nearly three years before they were revealed.

Why did both parties delay in bringing these matters to light? When it concerns the moral integrity of the people’s representatives, does not the party leadership feel the need to investigate and verify the situation? The two camps did not delve into the details and that has been criticized.

Going deeper into the statements by the respective party leaders, it is possible to understand their thinking. Extramarital affairs are wrong but the final straws that prompted both parties to accept their resignations were not the affairs themselves. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as secretary general of the PAP, only made the truth public because he wanted to ensure that the needs of the speaker’s constituency were properly handled. The crucial issue was that the speaker kept making mistakes. The problem with Seah was her behavior when being questioned by her party’s leadership.

Do our politicians have to be flawless? If there is no crime or deviation that is harmful to the public interest and the mistake has been corrected, can we be tolerant or be lenient if the person is conscientious? It has always been taboo for politicians to be unruly in their private lives. We cannot abandon the pursuit of the highest moral standards. But when politicians commit mistakes in private, to what extent should they be held accountable?

The Coming El Niño Heat Wave – and Beyond
Sunday, June 25, 2023
The Coming El Niño Heat Wave – and Beyond

Yan Mengda, special commentator, in Lianhe Zaobao (June 25, 2023)

Summary by Alejandro Reyes with Google Translation (Photo credit: NASA)

The Coming El Niño Heat Wave – and Beyond

From the World Meteorological Organization to Southeast Asian countries, all have predicted that nations will have problems when the El Niño phenomenon occurs. Southeast Asian economies, which rely on agriculture to a considerable extent for their livelihoods, have begun to feel nervous. El Niño is a climate phenomenon caused by an abnormal increase in water temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. It usually lasts for nine to 12 months and occurs every two to seven years on average. The last time was from 2018 to 2019.

Minister of Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu Hai Yien said that the hot whether will affect food production and that electricity and water shortages will become more frequent, disrupting social and economic activity. The authorities may have learned from past experience and are therefore focusing on protecting the health of employees in various fields. They should carry out surveys on various types of outdoor and indoor working environments and reach a consensus with employers in various industries about conditions and protective measures.

Singapore has promised to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and has adopted a series of positive measures. It is the only country in Southeast Asia that has implemented a multisector carbon tax. Singapore does not act just because of its small size. The UN recently warned that countries are off track in fulfilling their commitments to address climate change, and there is also a lack of trust, support and cooperation among countries.

This new round of the El Niño seems to be more menacing. If countries are not prepared, then when a truly serious climate disaster hits the world in future, it will not just be about figuring out what to wear when it is hot.

Taking a Principled Stance and Imposing Sanctions on Russia
Thursday, April 7, 2022
Taking a Principled Stance and Imposing Sanctions on Russia

Teo Chee Hean, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security of Singapore, in Lianhe Zaobao (March 26, 2022) 

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: President of Ukraine)

Taking a Principled Stance and Imposing Sanctions on Russia

Singapore has always been a strong advocate of international law and the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. All nations, large and small, must respect their sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity. Singapore, therefore, strongly condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Any violation of these core principles, wherever and whenever it occurs, must be taken seriously.

This has been Singapore’s consistent position. In 1983, Singapore voted against the US invasion of Grenada at the UN General Assembly. We also voted against the invasion of Cambodia at the UN General Assembly from 1979 to 1989. Just because Singapore voted against the US in 1983 does not mean they are their enemies. Meanwhile, just as Singapore voted against the invasion of Cambodia, this does not mean the country supported the Khmer Rouge regime. 

Singapore rarely imposes sanctions on other countries without a binding decision or direction from the UN Security Council. Given the unprecedented severity of Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Russia's unsurprising veto of the Security Council's draft resolution condemning its aggression, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced on February 28 that Singapore would implement sanctions on Russia. Unlike those of many other countries, the sanctions and restrictions are targeted and designed to limit Russia's ability to wage war against Ukraine.

There are a few things Singapore can learn from this conflict: First, conflict never arises without a reason. As every conflict has its historical roots, States should find ways to reduce the precursors of conflict and make every effort to resolve disputes through peaceful means. Second, Singapore should continue to create and develop structures such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that work to bridge the divide in the region and promote cooperative behavior. 

Lessons from the Case of the Chinese Agent
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Lessons from the Case of the Chinese Agent

Giam Meng Tuck, commentator, in Lianhe Zaobao (December 19, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Facebook)

Lessons from the Case of the Chinese Agent

Singapore’s Internal Security Department (ISD) issued a statement announcing the release of Yeo Jun Wei (also known as Dickson Yeo), a 40-year-old Singaporean doctoral student at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, who was previously detained for spying. Yeo was arrested in the United States for recruiting American soldiers and officials, hiring them to write reports, and forwarding these to the Chinese intelligence service. In July 2020, he pleaded guilty in a US court to a crime of illegally serving as a foreign agent and was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Bilahari Kausikan, Singapore’s former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has reminded Singaporeans to learn from the case and not to be naïve towards issues relating to international relations, stating that the “mutual collection of intelligence” was the norm. While this was not the first high profile incident, the Yeo Jun Wei case has its own unique features. 

As he is a Singaporean, Yeo was deported to Singapore in December 2020 where he was arrested under the Internal Security Act. When Yeo pleaded guilty in the US, Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs stated that his activities did not pose a direct threat to Singapore.

Yet, Yeo’s case clearly demonstrates how such threats have become more pronounced due to social media, which has made it easier for foreign intelligence services to talent-spot, groom and cultivate potential agents, even from abroad. The case of Yeo Jun Wei should serve as a cautionary tale to all young, ambitious Singaporeans. 

Support China's Accession to the CPTPP
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Support China's Accession to the CPTPP

Li Wenlong, Senior Economist at the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO), in Lianhe Zaobao (October 19, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Ministry of Commerce, Thailand)

Support China's Accession to the CPTPP

On September 16, 2021, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). A week later, Taiwan filed its own application. Singapore, Malaysia and Mexico have all expressed their support for China's accession. Meanwhile, Japan and Australia have shown no intention of supporting China's joining in the short term. Singapore, as a founding member with close relations with China, should play a more active role in promoting China's membership. 

Once China joins, the development prospects of CPTPP will improve for the following reasons:

First, China is already the largest trading country in the world and the Asia-Pacific region. Without China's participation, the CPTPP would not be a true Asia-Pacific trade agreement. 

Second, preventing China from joining goes against the concept of CPTPP as a free-and-open trade agreement. Instead, it would turn the CPTPP into a political tool used to confront and contain China. Owing to the political intentions of Japan and Australia against China, the ideological nature of the CPTPP has been strengthened. But other member states, including Singapore, do not want to conflict with China.

Third, the CPTPP is an important measure to promote further China's integration into Asia-Pacific and global trade. China has already conducted comprehensive research and evaluations and committed to high-level market opening that exceeds China’s current practices. 

Finally, support for China to join the CPTPP will also ultimately benefit Singapore. At present, China is Singapore's largest trading partner. By supporting China's accession, the bilateral trade relationship between Singapore and China can be consolidated further.

Coexisting With Covid-19 For The Next Five Years
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Coexisting With Covid-19 For The Next Five Years

Fu Laixing, commentator, in Lianhe Zaobao (October 3, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Dr David Sing /

Coexisting With Covid-19 For The Next Five Years

After achieving a vaccination rate of 82 percent, Singapore appeared ready to transition to the new normal of a Covid-19 resilient society. Then in August, the number of new daily cases rose dramatically. The question is: How long can society tolerate coexisting with the virus?

After two years there seems to be no end in sight and even after cases fall, it will till take several years for the world to return to normal. Indeed, over the past 130 years, the world has faced five major pandemics, lasting up to five years. The vaccine offers some hope. Yet, countries that have reached a certain percentage of vaccination rates such as Singapore now require their citizens to get a third booster shot. And even in the future, they will have to administer the vaccine regularly to maintain immunity as the virus evolves. Challenges stem from new variants and increased transmission during autumn and winter.

The situation is therefore precarious. Society believes that the government should not rush to loosen restrictions and that opening the borders must be done gradually. Reintroduced movement control measures have caught the public and companies by surprise. A survey found that two-thirds of the surveyed Singaporeans struggle with restrictions that limit social interaction and dining. Such measures will also undoubtedly affect Singapore’s economic performance in the second half of the year. Yet, without such action, infections will continue to climb, and it will be even more difficult to flatten the curve.

Coexisting with this virus over the next five years will be no easy task. The government must strike a careful balance between protecting Singapore’s livelihood and saving lives.

Introducing Electric Vehicles Will Not Be So Straightforward
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
Introducing Electric Vehicles Will Not Be So Straightforward

Liu Jia Ming, electrical engineer, in Lianhe Zaobao (September 23, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Choo Yut Shing)

Introducing Electric Vehicles Will Not Be So Straightforward

According to Singapore's transportation development blueprint, all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles will be replaced by electric vehicles by 2040. Electric vehicles do not emit exhaust gas containing toxic particles. Meanwhile, natural gas can be used to generate electricity, meaning Singapore’s air will be much cleaner. In addition, electric vehicles will reduce noise pollution by at least a half. Scientists, engineers and designers should also take advantage of this opportunity to redesign vehicles to tackle traffic congestion. In the future, big data analysis, artificial intelligence and robot operations can all be integrated to support automated driving.

Eliminating ICE vehicles will not be straightforward. Apart from developing new driving skills, licenses, maintenance, safety, insurance and so forth, there is the question of what to do with neighboring countries and to ensure compatibility between charging systems. The batteries and electronic parts needed to produce electric vehicles rely upon toxic metals such as lithium and arsenic. As such, the pollution and negative impact of electric vehicles are either not yet apparent or have not yet been fully studied.

To achieve full environmental protection and carbon reduction, it is still necessary to explore other solutions. The mayor of Paris recently proposed the concept of the "15-minute city" with the goal of all urban residents being able to get what they need in a 15-minute walk or bicycle ride. Such an example is not only environmentally friendly but can also increase productivity and improve the balance between work and rest. Ultimately, this is not just a challenge for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport. It will require the synchronization of the urban economic development of the city across sectors and actors to succeed.

Public Diplomacy Strengthens the Legitimacy of Government Policies
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Public Diplomacy Strengthens the Legitimacy of Government Policies

Alan Chong, Associate Professor in the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, in Lianhe Zaobao (September 16, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Singapore International Foundation)

Public Diplomacy Strengthens the Legitimacy of Government Policies

Public diplomacy is an important pillar for strengthening the legitimacy of government policies. Singapore’s public diplomacy has developed through external influences. From the establishment of the British colony to the eve of the Japanese occupation of World War II, the city’s three main ethnic communities carried out their own non-state forms of public diplomacy.

After independence in 1965, Singapore attempted to maintain its unique identity as a non-aligned international trade center open to everyone. Today, Singapore is not only actively pursuing the goals of ASEAN and the UN but it is also willing to maintain communication channels and low-key economic relations with countries that have fraught relations with the West such as Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.

Singapore's omnidirectional foreign policy is also reflected through its seeking a balance between China and the US, China and Japan, and China and India. This is evident in the fact that Singapore not only regularly has exchanges with these governments but has also signed extensive special economic agreements and trade agreements with them. Singapore’s success in formal public diplomacy is evident in the frequent invitations that senior officials receive to attend dialogues involving the United States and the European Union.

It is against this background that the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), as a practitioner of public diplomacy, fulfils its role. Together, the Foundation and Singaporean citizens jointly promote domestic and foreign cooperation to support positive changes. Today, the SIF supports public diplomacy through voluntary projects in the fields of healthcare and education, as well as through social entrepreneurship programs.

Singapore’s public diplomacy not only demonstrates the country’s good governance but projects an image of a country with global potential. Looking to the future, for organizations such as the SIF, public diplomacy should aim to place social and emotional connections above official political transactions.

Urgently Address The Ultra-Low Birth Rate
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Urgently Address The Ultra-Low Birth Rate

Xu Chengwei, Research Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, in Lianhe Zaobao (March 15, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: cattan2011)

Urgently Address The Ultra-Low Birth Rate

According to the World Bank, Singapore’s birth rate has declined over the past 30 years and now stands at 1.1, far below that of the population replacement rate of 2.1. There are many reasons for this, which have to do with all aspects of our social environment and work culture. If Singapore’s birth rate is to be increase, scholars and policymakers should discuss the real difficulties faced by families with children and assess the root causes of the reluctance to raise kids.

The following issues should be addressed to encourage young people to have children:

First, the government should continue to subsidize families with children. Although the state already provides generous childcare allowances, there is still room for improvement when compared to other countries such as Canada. Policymakers should conduct detailed household surveys to assess better the childcare burden of the average family.

Second, the government should evaluate and improve existing childcare facilities. Examples of measures include establishing passenger compartments for women on the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system and encouraging workplaces to offer maternity rooms with refrigerators for milk storage.

Third, the government should evaluate whether to extend maternity leave, while giving fathers longer paternity leave. Current leave allowances for fathers are low and prevent them from supporting the mother at critical times. In addition, wages during maternity leave should be shared by the company and the government.

Finally, there should be a new holiday and sick leave allowance for maternity check-ups. At present, pregnant women can only use their ordinary sick leave (around 14 days).

Failing to address the declining birth rate will have profound negative impact on Singapore’s economy, society and culture.

The Death Penalty Should Not Be Abolished
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
The Death Penalty Should Not Be Abolished

Ang Peng Cheoh, self-employed employment agent, in Lianhe Zaobao (July 22, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: chillipadi)

The Death Penalty Should Not Be Abolished

The government has twice in the past three years canvassed the public's views on the death penalty. This has made some worry about whether the authorities are considering its abolition.

The death penalty debate has a long history. Human rights organizations that oppose the death penalty often argue that there is no evidence that it reduces the crime rate. Meanwhile, the Catholic church opposes that death penalty because it deprives people of their sacred life and dignity. While these arguments may appear reasonable, they only uphold the human rights and the entitlement of the perpetrators. Meanwhile, they fail to consider justice for the victims and their families.

Serious crimes punishable by the death penalty in Singapore include murder, drug trafficking, and the use of arms and firearms. This has led to significant decrease in crime each year. In 2012, Singapore amended its relevant mandatory death penalty law. This allowed judges to use their discretion in cases. For instance, drug traffickers who provided information that led to the arrest of drug lords would not have to face capital punishment.

This amendment sends the wrong signal to potential criminals. Those who commit serious crimes should be sentenced to death in accordance with the law. Empowering judges to consider mitigating circumstances should only be permitted to do so in cases that do not involve the death penalty. There should be no gray areas, no room for discretion, in the prosecution and sentencing of cases in which conviction would require capital punishment.

Singapore’s long-term security and low crime rate are a result of its strict laws and the insistence that law enforcement and judicial personnel handle cases in accordance with the law. Not only should the death penalty be maintained but it also needs to be consistently enforced to deter and reduce crime.

Co-existing With Covid-19
Monday, August 23, 2021
Co-existing With Covid-19

Goh Choon Kang, former journalist and member of the Singapore Parliament from 1984 to 1997, in Lianhe Zaobao (August 11, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: ian carolino)

Co-existing With Covid-19

Singapore authorities have announced that Covid-19 safety management measures will depend upon an individual’s vaccination status. This can be interpreted as a new stage in the fight against the pandemic and a prelude to coexistence with the virus. With nearly 80 percent of the population vaccinated, they will have a good immunity to infection. This means that Covid-19 would be seen as a type of flu.

Measures are already relatively loose for those who have been vaccinated, while stricter requirements are in place for those who have not been vaccinated. As they do not have the added protection of a vaccine, they will be more likely to be infected and have a higher probability of suffering from severe illness or even death. They must be more careful and must be better protected to minimize the risk of infection.

Some still think that doing so constitutes discrimination and is unfair. But from the perspective of society, these people are not being treated differently. Instead, they have actively chosen to differentiate themselves. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but providing they can look at the problem rationally, they should be able to make an informed decision. In Europe and the United States, the situation is different. Many oppose the vaccine, and the issue has led to a division in society. Fortunately, Singapore’s state machinery is functioning effectively, society is not polarized, and the government is also very capable of doing things. Singapore, therefore, has avoided a US-type situation.

As a country with one of the highest vaccination rates, the goal of herd immunity is just around the corner. We have the conditions that would allow us soon to enter a new normal of coexistence with Covid-19.

The Pandemic Is Promoting The Adoption of Digital Payments
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
The Pandemic Is Promoting The Adoption of Digital Payments

Jacquelyn Tan, Head of Personal Financial Services, United Overseas Bank (UOB), in Lianhe Zaobao (March 5, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

The Pandemic Is Promoting The Adoption of Digital Payments

The use of cash in Singapore is declining – but at a slow pace. Since the Covid-19 crisis, the use of digital payments has grown. The total value of transactions made by United Overseas Bank (UOB) customers through PayNow service increased by 220 percent in the first 10 months of 2020. Singapore must see this as an opportunity to promote further the growth of digital payments.

In recent years, Singapore’s government has strongly supported the development of digital payments. In April 2019, the Land Transport Authority, UOB and other partners jointly launched the SimplyGo service, which allows passengers to use credit or debit cards to pay for bus or subway fares. During the pandemic, 1,000 ambassadors were recruited to teach the public how to use digital tools.

For consumers, the use of digital payment means that there is no need to count money, making shopping more convenient and transparent. For merchants, eliminating paper payments and manual processes means saving costs and improving efficiency and the consumer experience. When it comes to ensuring public health and safety, digital payments offer a huge advantage. Another key benefit of using digital payment relates to security. Financial institutions can protect digital payment users from losses caused by unauthorized or erroneous transactions.

Despite these benefits, old habits remain a stumbling block for Singapore to move towards a cashless society. Among them, "muscle memory" plays an important role in payment. When consumers start to use digital payments, the reflex habit will develop. The government and businesses should work to encourage consumers to adopt digital payments. Providing incentives and adding simple digital payment options to shopping can speed up adoption. This all requires close cooperation among banks, merchants and the government.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a unique opportunity to the payment industry, which Singapore must seize.

Shocking Case of Domestic Helper Abuse Raises Difficult Questions
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Shocking Case of Domestic Helper Abuse Raises Difficult Questions

Giam Meng Tuck, editor and commentator, in Lianhe Zaobao (February 28, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Sherwin Huang)

Shocking Case of Domestic Helper Abuse Raises Difficult Questions

The torture and murder of a Myanmar domestic helper, Piang Ngaih Don, was so appalling that Singapore’s attorney general himself directed prosecutors to press for the highest possible charge against the employer. Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam expressed “complete abhorrence” over the inhumane crime.

The 40-year-old defendant Gaiyathiri Murugayan admitted to torturing the victim for nine months. Why was the abuse not discovered in time?

Under existing regulations, doctors must check the health of domestic workers regularly. This is a chance to report signs of domestic abuse. Yet, past cases have a common feature: The abuse was not found out or swiftly reported by neighbors. This indifference raises questions about Singaporean society.

Domestic workers have left their families and hometowns to work for low wages. On top of this, they may end up ultimately sacrificing their mind, body or even their life. Whether they can be protected and whether they can get justice after being victimized depends not only on effective law enforcement and justice but on our social conscience. No matter how strict the legal framework is, it cannot prevent "ordinary people" from committing extraordinary inhumane crimes.

The Ministry of Manpower is now reviewing the supervision of domestic workers. It is looking at how to improve the notification system for when doctors conduct routine health examinations of domestic workers. Setting up a more effective reporting mechanism is a priority, which requires greater public awareness and better education of society.

Singapore’s wealth and economy are the envy of neighboring countries. The development of Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines remain far behind. Singaporeans must express greater sympathy for all domestic workers so as not to be labelled as "rich but not benevolent".

Stakeholder Capitalism As A Governance Model
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Stakeholder Capitalism As A Governance Model

Goh Choon Kang, former journalist and member of the Singapore Parliament from 1984 to 1997, in Lianhe Zaobao (February 17, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory (Photo credit: Pascal Bitz/World Economic Forum)

Stakeholder Capitalism As A Governance Model

Stakeholder capitalism was a concept advocated by Klaus Schwab when he founded the World Economic Forum in 1971. Shareholder capitalism emphasizes that companies should serve the interests of shareholders, while stakeholder capitalism believes that companies have an obligation to all stakeholders. Shareholder capitalism has been proven extremely harmful, particularly in the US, which has seen widening inequality, intensification of social conflicts, and the control of political parties by powerful interests.

There are still a few countries in the world such as the Nordic countries, New Zealand and Singapore, which are worthy of recognition. Among these countries, Schwab has highlighted Singapore as model of stakeholder government. Schwab’s praise for Singapore spans its public housing construction, education, health and digitalization initiatives.

He has, however, also emphasized that Singapore’s model may be difficult to replicate in other countries with larger or poorer populations. Yet, pragmatic and stakeholder-driven policy making, common in New Zealand and Denmark, are still worthy of recognition. Ultimately, the government should take care of the interests and welfare of all stakeholders.

Schwab may also feel that in this globalized world, Singapore’s commitment to multilateralism is beneficial. This commitment is illustrated through Singapore’s active promotion of the economic integration of the ASEAN region and the country’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) trade agreements. Furthermore. the Covid-19 pandemic has illustrated the crucial role this region will play in the global economic recovery.

Because Of The Pandemic, People Have Tough Decisions To Make
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Because Of The Pandemic, People Have Tough Decisions To Make

Tay Boon Suat, consultant and member of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, in Lianhe Zaobao (January 29, 2021)

Summary by Alan Yang Gregory

Because Of The Pandemic, People Have Tough Decisions To Make

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only created the biggest economic crisis Singapore has ever faced, but it has also severely affected the lives of all Singaporeans. Under this new normal, citizens have several decisions to make.

First, businesses. The government has allocated nearly funds to rescue companies, restructure bank loans, and provide additional credit financing. This is only a short-term fix and companies must ultimately rely on their own abilities to survive. If the situation deteriorates, more than half of local retail companies may collapse within six months. The lack of foreign tourists, high rent and operating expenses are additional pressures. In this era of the Internet of Things, business owners will need to decide how to adapt and transform to survive. The pressure created by the pandemic can be seen as a good opportunity for business owners to change their way of operating.

Second, family financial planning. According to a recent survey, Singaporeans’ basic financial planning performance worsened in 2020 from the previous year. Passive income fell while the amount of borrowing from relatives and friends has risen. The number of people having difficulties in repaying their mortgages has also increased. Restrictions on international travel, however, mean that households are spending less on expensive habits such as taking holidays abroad.

Educating children on the nature of money and making wise financial decisions should be the main goal of Singaporeans today particularly as young people are facing adversity. College students may be unemployed after graduation, and those currently working could be laid off. Everyone will need to be prepared be ready to enter new fields of work at any time.

How the government, companies and citizens make these decisions amid the challenges of the pandemic will ultimately determine Singapore’s future.