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Sunday, October 2, 2022


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke during his National Day Rally last night and outlined the need for top foreign talent to join Singapore’s workforce.


He said, “In this global contest for talent, Singapore cannot afford to be creamed off, or left behind.”

He added that Singapore is a global city, and we cannot survive in any other way, and that we must stay open and connected to the world.

Snippets of PM Lee’s Speech

“We must stay open and connected to the world. Globalisation is on the wane, and countries are turning inwards and protectionist. But Singapore is still a global city. We cannot survive in any other way. It is impossible for us to grow or make everything we need ourselves. Nor can we consume everything we produce, whether computer chips or pharmaceuticals or petrochemicals.

To make a living, we will always require foreign investments, overseas markets, and excellent transport and communications links with all parts of the world.


The international tensions and uncertainties make our task harder but countries will still do business with one another; MNCs will still look for places to invest; the world will still need financial centres, and communication and transportation hubs. If we are nimble and enterprising, we will get our share of these and more.

We must also build a world-class talent pool in Singapore. We do our utmost to develop our own talent, and enable every Singaporean to reach their fullest potential. But when it comes to top talent, we can never have enough. This is an age where talent makes all the difference to a nation’s success. We need to focus on attracting and retaining top talent, in the same way we focus on attracting and retaining investments.

This is true not just of Singapore. Countries all over the world are making a special effort to court top international talents. Germany recently allowed skilled foreign professionals to live there even before they secure a job. Come first, look for a job later.

The UK wants to attract the best and brightest at the beginning of their careers. It recently introduced a special visa for graduates from the top 50 universities in the world outside the UK. I looked through the list, it includes NUS and NTU!

In this global contest for talent, Singapore cannot afford to be creamed off, or left behind.


Singaporeans are rightly concerned about the impact of large numbers of non-residents living and working here. I talked about this last year. The Government is following up to tackle the problems, and ease these concerns. But while we manage the overall population of foreign professionals here, we must not stop seeking out top talent who can contribute to our Singapore Story.”

Top foreign talents helped with pandemic contributions

“During COVID-19, our researchers – both Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans – made significant contributions.

They helped maintain the international GISAID database, which facilitates sharing of COVID-19 genomic data worldwide. They developed test kits and other diagnostics. They enabled us to understand international progress on vaccine development, tap into industry networks, and thus secure vaccines and therapeutics early for our people.

That is why we had the know-how, we had the confidence, we were prepared to take bets. We placed bets early and our bets paid off. We were able to vaccinate Singaporeans months before we would otherwise have been able to, saving time, saving lives, making a huge difference to Singapore.

Had we not sought out top talent 30 years ago, then continued to build up our biomedical research teams and activities, and develop home grown talent, all this would never have happened. This is the difference that top talent can make.”

We must seize opportunity to secure S’pore’s place in the post pandemic world

“Singapore has attracted the interest of many talented people and international companies. Those with special talents and skills are looking for places to move to, where they and their families feel safe and welcome, and where they can make an impact.

Businesses want to invest in places where the talent is, business follows the talent, and they also look for places where the politics and policies are stable, and where the system works.

That is why even during the pandemic, EDB continued to bring in many good projects, and even now we have a very strong investment pipeline of potential projects whom we have good chance of getting.

We must seize this opportunity, to secure Singapore’s place in the post-COVID-19 world. We already have schemes to attract and retain top talent, especially in the technology industry (IT).

But we need to do more, especially in the sectors with good potential. We want to make top talent everywhere sit up, pay attention, and think seriously about coming to Singapore.


MOM, MTI and the economic agencies will soon announce new initiatives to achieve this. If we can get the people we want to come here, it will really help Singapore to shine brightly as a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship, and growth.

It will make our own talent want to stay in Singapore, to participate in building a dynamic and outstanding nation, and every Singaporean will benefit from our progress and success.”

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