Sunday, April 12, 2009

Singapore’s Future & Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew urging of Singaporeans not to delude themselves that they are a part of the First World in SE Asia

As much as I love Singapore for its relatively good governance, its security and a relatively good standard of living, of late, I am feeling the stress and ennui of living on this little island we called home.

It is understandable that bereft of natural resources, Singapore’s only resources in its people. Singapore has excelled economically over the past few decades but fast forward to today, it is increasing evident that neighbouring countries have been catching up, and catching up FAST! With China and India, the next super global powers rising rapidly, Singapore is also looking forward to leveraging on the opportunities that these two giants will be presenting.

It has become a trend that Singapore is bidding on international projects to boost its economy. Singapore has bided for the F1 races, Youth Olympics and international exhibitions and conventions to be held locally, this is a phenomenon that is not seen in the earlier years. Singapore has to constantly clinch projects regionally and internationally, explore ways and avenues to work with other countries, even the Middle East to look for opportunities to boost its economy, this has become not an option but a necessity. Just see how busy Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong is travelling round the world to forge international ties. Amidst all these clinching of projects, attraction of multinational companies to set its bases in Singapore, economic pragmatism seems to be the way Singapore is going, from my own humble opinion. But can we afford not to be economically pragmatic? If we are not, our economy will falter and the quality of Singaporeans will similarly suffer when there are no jobs for Singaporeans, etc.

Another route Singapore has explored to survive in this global era is to invest in Research and Development (R&D). A hallmark of this R&D is our Singapore’s most prized innovation, NEWater which has marked Singapore’s self reliance on portable water! Singapore will continue to invest in its R&D to be the frontier in world’s foremost technology and boost its economy.

The twin-pronged measure Singapore has taken to sustain its economy calls for the Best and Brightest talents who could contribute to Singapore, be they foreigners or Singaporeans. This has resulted in a Singapore which is increasingly perceived as Elitist by the average Singaporeans.

I believe Singapore’s future will be to continuously balance the attraction, development and retention of elites in Singapore to grow the economy pie of our island while taking care that the voices of common Singaporeans on the streets are still being heard.

Its makes senses to pay top dollars for top talents, thus as Singapore attracts more elites to booster its industries to grow and sustain its economy for the overall good of the nation, it is increasing discernable that the income divide between the rich and poor is increasing.

The income divide will become a social problem as it may segment the whole of nation into the ‘haves’ or ‘have nots’ and even if Singapore manages to achieve economic progress in this global era, the social dimension of its progress must still not be undermined.

Throw in all these complexities of the issues that Singapore must tackle with, with the increasingly young populace who is internet savvy and who have access to the multitude of different information sources, and I must say the Singapore government really has a formidable task to bring Singapore to the next era.

Thus if we are feeling the stress of living in our island, our national leaders have even a greater stress to lead our country for a continuous economic growth amidst all the other regional countries which have progressed in tandem with the world.

One thing Singapore should do (which luckily it is doing) is to grow its pool of entrepreneurs who can create wealth for the nation! Who knows we have the next Bill Gates in our country?

I believe the tweaking of Singapore’s education system to become more innovative and creative, though a good start, is long overdue.

I find it disturbing that Singaporeans (in my opinions) are just too focused on the bread and butter issues such as some slight increases in transport fees neglect the bigger and longer issues that Singapore is facing. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was right when he urged Singaporeans not to delude themselves that they are part of the First-World in South-east Asia.

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