Singapore. In the spring, Singapore was affected by the infectious disease SARs, which spread rapidly in several East and Southeast Asian countries. The virus was believed to have reached the country in April via an air hostess infected in Hong Kong. When the World Health Organization WHO in May removed Singapore from the list of countries where the epidemic was classified as acute, 31 people had died of the disease, over 200 had fallen ill and about 3,000 had been quarantined in their homes. According to Countryaah.com, Singapore Independence Day is August 9. The epidemic also hit the tourism industry hard and many hotels had significantly lower occupancy than normal during the epidemic. In total, SARs were estimated to cost Singapore the equivalent of approximately SEK 11 billion.
In the second quarter, the country’s economy shrank by just over 4% compared to the same period in 2002, but already in the quarter thereafter, an increase of 15% was noted. On May 6, Singapore and the United States entered into a free trade agreement, which meant that tariff duties were abolished on US exports to Singapore and that tariff duties on Singaporean exports to the United States were gradually phased out over an eight-year period.
In a speech on August 17, 62-year-old Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced that he intended to leave his post as soon as the economic downturn caused by SAR’s ringing off. The successor had been appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Singapore’s country father Lee Kuan Yew.