Ten Years After SARS, We Must Still Not Let The Lessons Go To Waste.


It was one crisis that nobody could have imagined and was prepared for.

On 12 March 2003, I remember the World Health Organisation made a public announcement about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). It was a disease that we knew little about and it was infecting many people.

Sadly, we subsequently lost a total of about 800 innocent lives.

In the weeks following the announcement, many people stayed behind closed doors, far from crowds and potentially crowded places. They carried with them an air of fear – that any one of them could be the next victim.

The streets were never as void of people. Retail and other food and beverage outlets struggled to bring in customers. Meetings and all kinds of gatherings were cancelled.

Singapore’s economy took a nose dive. Property market went through one of the worst troughs and many businesses were severely hit.

Through the darkness of the crisis, there were many shining lights that confirmed the vast potential, strengths and resilience of humankind.

There were real life stories of love, courage, sacrifices and compassion that continue to inspire many of us and should become models for our lives.

From March to May 2003, the world came together to tackle a common enemy, a virus that was not bounded by any border or boundary. Leaders, civil servants, grassroots leaders and volunteers from different spheres of society rolled up their sleeves to stem the viral tide.

Thanks to all these heroes, we managed to stop the crisis within a relatively short period of time and prevent it from blowing into a full scale epidemic. We owe to all of them a huge debt of gratitude, one from which we will never be able to repay in our lifetimes.

These heroes included many researchers, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who worked selflessly and in the frontline. They put their lives at stake so that we can put our lives back to the right track again.

I hope the SARS crisis or a similar one will never happen again. However, I hope that the many lessons that we have learned from it will stay with us forever, lessons that has helped us in our battles against H1N1 and a potential influenza outbreak and they can help us overcome many other challenges in the future.

As we live in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world, SARS taught us that we need to help each other more than we ever did before.

We need to cooperate, collaborate and co-create solutions to overcome many other crises; both known and unknown, predictable and unpredictable, that may threaten our very survival. They include natural crises, epidemics and pandemics, and man-made disasters.

During the SARS period, my company went through the darkest hour of our history. Yet, it was also one of the most enlightened periods of our lives.

Our Creator taught us lessons after lessons about how to survive in a crisis and succeed because of it.

I have recorded this experience on my Inspiration blog. You may wish to read about it by visiting:


or read about it in Chinese on,


In the aftermath of the SARS crisis, we went through the fastest growth, spreading our wings and providing more services to a bigger market. If SARS did not hit us, I am not too sure if we would ever feel more compelled to make necessary and much needed changes to transform our business model and operations.

Personally, it was a humbling period in my life as I went through what I have since then called my “half-death” (求生不得求死不能) experience. I believe I have become more sensitive to others and more empathetic especially to the needy.

Along the way, my company and I became much more committed to give back to society. We have challenged ourselves to go beyond doing well so as to do good and make our world a better home.

SARS broke my heart in 2003. In doing so, I believe it has helped to transplant an even better heart into my being. It has helped me to better serve the people around me.

It taught me that together, we can learn more, do more and achieve more. Nothing can stop us as we seek the betterment of society.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at https://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on current affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please visit my website, http://www.patrickliew.net

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

About Patrick Liew
About Patrick Liew Patrick Liew MBA, MSc, BSc is the Managing Partner of Global Enterprise Exchange Pte. Ltd.. He is also the founder and director of Success Resources, arguably the world’s largest personal development seminar organiser and a major shareholder of a company, which is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. He was previously the Executive Chairman and CEO of HSR Global Ltd., a publicly listed company on SGX-ST. Previously, he was the regional director of the Gartner Group, providing strategic advisory and planning services to governments, banks and MNCs. He was also the regional head of sales and marketing operation for Dow Jones Telerate. Patrick graduated with a BSc in Estate Management from Heriot Watt University, an MSc with emphasis in global business and marketing from The City University Of New York, and an MBA from Henley Business School / Brunel University. He has also earned more than nine other professional qualifications. Patrick is arguably the first person to develop a multimedia e-learning programme on entrepreneurship. He authored a Chinese book on business systems and was also the co-author of a Times Bookshop best-selling book. Patrick has conducted both ‘brick and mortar’ and online lessons for participants from more than 60 countries. He has also conducted keynote presentations in many international conferences, including being the first Singaporean to teach at the National Association of Realtors. Through his team at Success Resources, Patrick has organised educational conferences for prominent leaders such as President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Michael Porter, Richard Branson, Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, and many other prominent leaders. Patrick provides leadership and advisory services to many professional and charity organisations. He is actively involved in supporting humanitarian, philanthropic and charity causes. He has organised three fund-raising events and in the process, help to set three national records in the Singapore Books Of Records. Patrick won the Entrepreneur Of the Year Award For Social Contribution, the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award, and six other business awards. Patrick believes the best way to live your life is to live your life for others. The more you reach out to bless other lives, the richer and better your life will become. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A Personal Note to my Friends The articles that I post online; or what I term as Love Notes, are written with the purpose of inspiring readers to live at a higher plane in life. They are also meant to motivate those who are struggling in life and help them find handlers to overcome their conflicts and challenges. It is my ardent hope that we will form networks and alliances of like-minded people who will put to right many of the wrongs in our midst. Together, we will leverage on each other's resources and create a synergistic impact in making our world a better home. These articles are written as part of regular reflection about the vicissitudes of life. They are at best work in progress and at worst, grumblings, grouses, and gripings of a finite old man. I have deliberately decided NOT to delete many of the articles and pointers that I may not agree with or are outrightly wrong. This is to keep a record of how my personal ideas, beliefs, and values have evolved over time. In addition, I hope to encourage readers by letting them know that I also make mistakes and am struggling with many of the complexity and complication in life. As long as we hang on to hope and work on finding a solution, there will be light at the end of whatever tunnel we are in. I do not pretend to know everything or for that matter, anything of substance. In fact, the more I study, learn, and think about the vast wisdom and knowledge out there, the more I realised how little I know about life and the ways of life. Hence, I have always ended my article by asking readers to continue to teach me. For I, too, am a sojourner in the exploration of truth and the adventure of finding meaning, purpose, and significance for my existence. I am proud of and make no apology for being a Christian, albeit not the most exemplary one. I believe our Creator can lead and guide us to be the best that we can ever be. I bear full responsibility for the shortcoming and error in my life, including my words. The fault is entirely mine and not due to anyone else. Readers have and can exercise the power of choice. They can discard what will not work for them and adopt those that can propel them further and faster in the pursuit of better performance, outcomes, and fulfillment. If I have disappointed or hurt you in any way, form, or manner, I would like to apologise to you. Please do not hold them against me or whoever or whatever is related to me. There are much to pray about, learn, and do. And I'll work on them with a sense of urgency. I hold on to the belief that 'Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion and excellence'. I'll endeavour to live by it. Life is short. There's no dress rehearsal and neither can we turn back the clock to change the drama of life. Therefore, by the grace and power of our Creator, let's live a full life and live it to the fullest. May God bless you abundantly on the journey of life. Your online servant, Patrick Liew I hope this message will find a place in your heart. By the way, I have also recorded other reflections. Please 'Like' me on https://m.facebook.com/patrickliewsg Visit my Inspiration blog at https://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/ For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/ Please visit my website, http://www.patrickliew.net Please read my reflection and continue to teach me. Life is FUNtastic!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: