[New Year Reflections]
I have been on local leave in the last week, still having to drop into my office occasionally, but having more time for myself and my family. Before Christmas, we stayed at a government chalet in Changi for a few days. It was nice to be able to sleep in in the morning, and go for leisurely swims and runs with my kids.
Oei Hong Leong's advice for the new year in Straits Times was good. He said that while one might lose an arm or a leg, one should never lose one's head. Be cautious, stick to cash and spend more time with the family.
The global financial crisis is leading to a steep economic slowdown. Tens of trillions of dollars have been wiped off global assets in the last few months. With rising unemployment worldwide, some countries will be politically destabilised. In many countries, governments are wobbly and unable to do what is right for their people.
I expect MFA will be busier next year. We have to support the reform of global institutions, push ASEAN integration and maintain good external relations generally. With the Doha round in jeopardy, it is just as well we have our FTAs. Negotiating a new climate change treaty will be an uphill struggle. I hope our neighbours will pull through this economic crisis because their well being affects our well being. It is so sad, amidst all these challenges, to see unending strife in the Middle East and the looming prospect of conflict between India and Pakistan.
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