The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled countries the world over to undertake drastic measures to contain the spread of the virus and its economic fallout. A case in point close to home is Singapore’s relief measures of S$193 billion* that was committed in the first half of 2020 to fight the coronavirus, preserve livelihoods and stabilise economy activities. But the implications of the outbreak go well beyond public health challenges and economic concerns.
In this episode ‘Rethinking the Singapore Narrative’, Associate Professor Leong Chan Hoong from the SUSS Centre for Applied Research reviews the far-reaching existential crisis facing Singaporeans and how it will shape social and economic landscapes for future generations.
Since its independence in 1965 – a historic watershed for Singapore – the national narrative of survival and resilience has been established and revisited by its leadership over decades. Chan Hoong explains that a national narrative can be likened to a charter that defines a nation’s identity, values, norms, policies and its place in the global environment.
“But with the changes in the surrounding, environmental and the challenges ahead, whether those conditions still allow that charter to remain – that is the important question which Singaporeans will have to discuss,” Chan Hoong points out, adding that the world in the aftermath of the pandemic will be very different.
So what changes can the future old - the Gen X and Millennials - possibly expect? With the weakening of globalisation, these generations of Singaporeans would likely experience a less competitive job market, leading to changes in the quality of life prior to Covid-19. Beyond government measures, Singaporeans would need to stay resourceful as government state support cannot offer long-term solutions in the post-pandemic world.
*Source: The Straits Times (Jun 2020): Four budgets may help Singapore avoid output loss of 5 percentage points or S$23.4b: DPM Heng