2. It is always a joy for me to visit Jurong Island to see new plants being established one after another. Just a couple of months ago, I was at ExxonMobil where we recalled that it was unnatural for us to even have a petrochemical industry in Singapore. Today, we are the world's fifth largest petroleum exporter. We are also the world's seventh largest petrochemical exporter. For a country that has not much land, not much natural resources, it is indeed amazing.
3. The question is how do we move forward, especially in times of uncertainty? It is not unusual for us to wake up to a news feed on things that are happening around the world every morning — some bad and some which cause greater uncertainty. In order to distinguish Singapore from the competition and the uncertainties, all the more reason we need to double down and focus on our fundamentals.
4. Today, I will just highlight a few of the fundamentals that I think will continue to put us in good stead amidst the challenging times ahead. In Singapore, we do not play for the short term, we play for the long haul. Today's investment by Linde is a testimony to that. Today's investment by Linde is not an investment for the next few years – if we get it right, it is the foundation for the next few decades. It is a long term relationship.
5. For us to attract long term investors like Linde and ExxonMobil, we need to provide a stable, secure and pro-business environment. Most importantly, we need to have consistencies and coherence in our policy making. These are easier said than done. But in Singapore, we are determined to ensure that we have exactly such an environment for our partners and investors.
6. Second, in Singapore, we can never compete on the basis of price. But we will always compete on the basis of value creation, quality and standards. And indeed, if we talk to the teams from Linde or ExxonMobil today, we will know that they did not choose Singapore because we were the cheapest location. It will be quite difficult for me to promise you that we will always beat the competition just on price. But we can promise you that we will surpass the competition on the basis of how we deliver value to our investors. This value creation will involve the entire chain from R&D upstream, to the supply chains, production systems and the distribution networks. That is how we create value.
7. In recent times, despite the uncertainties, many significant investments have planted themselves in Singapore because of our superior connectivity, not only in the air, land and sea dimensions, but also in the dimensions of our data, finance, talent, technology and regulatory connectivity. These are the eight dimensions of connectivity that we keep harping upon because these will allow us to stand apart amidst the competition, and we have every intention to not rest on our laurels but to continue strengthening these dimensions of connectivity.
8. When investors invest in Singapore, you can rest assured that you will have the best intellectual property (IP) protection for all the hard work you have done in both the upstream creation and downstream management, and even arbitration. This is an example of how we create value for ourselves despite our constraints.
9. The third fundamental that is expressed by Linde’s investment in Singapore is that we do not compete on the basis of individual projects, individual firms or any individual capability. Instead, we build ecosystems that feed upon each other and reinforce each other. In Jurong Island today, we have more than 100 energy and chemical companies. But these are not 100 independent energy and chemicals companies. These companies form an ecosystem upstream and downstream. They reinforce each other, share resources, share knowledge, and share best practices. This is how we intend to continuously strengthen our networks. We do not compete on the basis of individuals; we compete on the basis of networks.
10. Fourth, in different parts of the world, there is a growing pushback against trade and technology as technology continues to evolve. In many countries, technology is seen as the ‘bad guy’ that will disrupt today's businesses and workers. But in Singapore, we made ourselves a promise that we will not protect jobs but workers. In order to protect workers, we formed the strongest tripartite partnership possible to make sure that we continuously invest in our workers to keep pace with the demands for the new skills required as technology advances. To this end, we will also work closely with Linde, ExxonMobil, and all other companies in Jurong Island, to make sure that our workers’ skills are continuously up to scratch.
11. These are but just some of the fundamentals of how we intend to stand out from the competition. Times are uncertain and there are many uncertainties around the world today. But the greater the uncertainties, the greater the opportunities for Singapore to distinguish ourselves from the competition by standing firm on our fundamentals — the fundamentals of thinking, planning and delivering long term; the fundamentals of not competing just on price, but on value creation, and quality standards and innovation; the fundamentals of working as a team competing as an ecosystem, rather than as individuals or individual companies. And last but not least, the fundamentals of working strongly together as a tripartite team so that as technology advances, we will not leave the workers behind because we will continuously retrain our workers.
12. And because we have these fundamentals with us, we have every confidence that we will deliver on our promise to Linde and ExxonMobil that we will bear faith with the investment that you have made in Singapore. This will be a testimony of what we can achieve together for many years, many decades to come.
13. We thank you for your partnership and your confidence. We look forward to achieving even greater heights with all of you. Thank you very much.