Becoming an irrelevant 'second-tier' city a key concern for Singapore: Ho Kwon Ping

Mr Ho said Singapore must constantly pay attention to its position in the world and continue to refine its competitive edge in order to remain a top-tier city.
Mr Ho said Singapore must constantly pay attention to its position in the world and continue to refine its competitive edge in order to remain a top-tier city. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The biggest challenge to Singapore in the coming decades is not the question of its survival, but whether it will become a second-tier global city and irrelevant to the rest of the world, said a prominent thinker and businessman.

Mr Ho Kwon Ping, the executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, said Singapore must constantly pay attention to its position in the world and continue to refine its competitive edge in order to remain a top-tier city, or risk a gradual decline into inconsequentiality.

He was speaking on Thursday (Oct 29) at the Singapore Economic Policy Forum organised by the Economics Society of Singapore.

"The biggest challenge to Singapore is not our non-existence, it is our descent into irrelevance," said Mr Ho.

"We can remain a relatively prosperous, happy society, and still fall into the second tier of global cities."

To avoid this fate, Singapore must cultivate "proprietary advantages" instead of merely depending on relative advantages such as geographic location and cheaper labour.

The aviation and pharmaceutical industries here are good examples of how Singapore has managed to transcend locational and cost advantages to become globally competitive, and more can still be done to build up sectors such as clean technology and urban solutions, added Mr Ho.