SINGAPORE — Singapore must not turn its back on the many foreigners working here as they have contributed to the nation and "strengthen our team", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (29 August).
"They are our colleagues, and our neighbours and friends. During COVID-19, some have endured personal hardships, perhaps separated from families who are abroad, or been stuck outside Singapore and unable to return home here.
"Many worked on the front line, shoulder-to-shoulder with Singaporeans. They, too, have contributed to Singapore," said Lee during his annual National Day Rally.
He called on Singaporeans not to create the impression that the country is becoming hostile to foreigners as this would gravely damage its reputation as an international hub, and lead to a loss of investments, jobs as well as opportunities.
"It would be disastrous for us. And, most of all, it is not who we aspire to be," added Lee.
He said Singapore needs to make it "crystal clear" to the world that it is determined to stay open, "in order to earn a living for ourselves".
Beyond policies, Lee said Singaporeans' mindsets and values also have to be outward and forward-looking. This encompasses looking abroad, welcoming ideas and talent, as well as accepting competition and change.
"These values helped transform Singapore from a population of immigrants into a cosmopolitan and vibrant country. We must uphold them as we continue to build our home and nation," said Lee.
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