Message by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat at the St. Gallen Symposium on 8 May 2020.
The world is facing a crisis of an unprecedented scale.
COVID-19 knows no boundaries. This is a global pandemic that requires a global response.
Many countries are in lockdown. Until we succeed in containing the virus, it will be difficult to resume normalcy.
This virus has taught us that collaboration is our best and only way out of the crisis.
Countries, companies and communities will need to work together to tackle this pandemic.
From sharing data, to accelerating research for testing, treatments and vaccines. From helping those who have been hard hit within our society, to providing assistance to the least developed countries. From supplying equipment and essential items, to showing solidarity with one another.
Switzerland did just that, by projecting the flags of countries impacted by COVID-19 on Matterhorn, including Singapore.
This pandemic will pass at some point, but many other challenges confronting us will not – global issues like climate change, hunger and poverty.
Societal challenges like inequality and the sustainability of social spending.
There are no easy answers.
But there is no better time for dialogue – within our societies, across ages, across borders.
From conversations to collaboration, from collaboration to action.
This Symposium was started fifty years ago with this spirit in mind. In response to widespread student protests over civil rights, capitalism, and the Vietnam War.
The world has seen through many crises in the last century – two devastating World Wars, the Spanish Flu and other pandemics, the Great Depression and the Global Financial Crisis.
Each time we learnt our lessons and emerged stronger.
The issues we face have evolved. But the spirit of dialogue and action remains unchanged.
I hope that the St Gallen Symposium will continue to engage, inspire and enrich our young. To strengthen inter-generational dialogue, to pass on the wisdom from one generation to another, to grow the spirit of learning and collaboration, across borders and cultures.
Post-COVID, we can build back better. We are one humanity, living in a little dot in the universe. We can build a shared future, with a stake for everyone. This shared future begins here, with all of you.
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