3 things key to Singapore's future

The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum 2018 saw Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat speak on the importance of fiscal sustainability and how Singaporeans can stay relevant as tech disruption affects the economy.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday spelt out three elements that are key to helping Singapore navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable future.

These are: clear values, good governance and leadership, and building high levels of trust both in and outside Singapore.

First, Singapore must remain focused on its central aim of building a fair and just society. He sees it as "a society that is adaptable and resilient, where we care for and trust in one another, and where we move forward together, whatever our starting points, whatever the future change we are navigating".

Second, Mr Heng said Singapore needs good governance and good leadership at all levels, whether in the private, public or people sectors. These leaders need to maintain a high level of trust and communicate their plans openly.

"The consequences if we fail to do so are severe - loss of trust, a divided people, a society that turns inwards from the world and loses its ability to adapt and innovate," he said at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum yesterday. He pointed to cautionary examples in some developed countries, where there has been a backlash against globalisation and a surge in support for extremist populist parties as citizens feel that elites in society have creamed off more than their fair share of the fruits of growth.

Finally, to provide the foundation for good governance, Singapore needs to build a high level of "social and cross-cultural capital". This involves building up the people's trust in their leaders as well as in one another. It also extends to nurturing deep links internationally.

Mr Heng said: "As a small nation, we have thrived on being an open and constructive player on the international stage. We must continue to stay open, and build the cross-cultural social capital and relationships that will allow us to harness the benefits of globalisation."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2017, with the headline '3 things key to Singapore's future'. Print Edition | Subscribe