Speech by the MINISTER IN THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE, SECOND MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DR MOHAMAD MALIKI OSMAN’S INTERVENTION AT SESSION II, ‘RECONNECTING THE REGION’ AT THE 2022 APEC MINISTERIAL MEETING IN BANGKOK, THAILAND (16 -17 Nov 2022)
“Khun Don and Khun Jurin,
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how vulnerable we are to external forces and the effects of globalization. According to a study by the APEC Policy Support Unit, the economic costs of the loss in cross-border mobility during COVID-19 amounted to USD 1.2 trillion in 2020. We must learn from the hard-earned lessons gained from the pandemic and ensure that systems are in place to address future pandemics and ensure that travel remains resilient. Let me share three such lessons.
First, it is important to take a science- and data-based approach to policymaking. While protecting lives is the primary priority, this must be balanced against the need to protect livelihoods. Economies must not rush into implementing protectionist policies when faced with crises. For example, when we impose restrictive travel restrictions, we must take into account the negative impact this has on both the domestic, regional and global economy. Throughout the pandemic, Singapore and a few economies were committed to keeping our air and seaports open to ensure minimal disruptions to global supply chains.
Second, we must embrace digital transformation. During the pandemic, those that had access to the internet were able to mitigate the effects of lockdowns, while those that did not were more adversely affected. We must therefore bridge the digital divide, to ensure we move forward together. At the same time, we must capitalise on digital technology to promote greater regional inter-connectivity. One good example is the issuance of digital vaccination certificates. We should standardise the format and ensure interoperability so that cross-border mobility can maintain its resilience when future pandemics strike.
Lastly, we must enhance coordination in our health policies by continuing to support the World Health Organisation, or WHO. The WHO has done good work during the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing up to date information, clear scientific guidance and communication. We should continue to support its role in the evolving global health architecture. Singapore will maintain our partnership with the WHO to improve health emergency preparedness, as it is not a matter of if but when the next pandemic will hit us again.
We also stand ready to work with APEC to strengthen resilience against future risks.”
SOURCE: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SINGAPORE, 18 NOVEMBER 2022