Fresh opportunities for Singapore with new Asean Community

The challenges of the next 50 years will be very different from the past. The region offers Singapore fresh opportunities to stay relevant ("Asean declares creation of integrated community"; Monday).

We are a part of Asean, just as Asean is part of Asia. Macroeconomic integration in the continent will accelerate in time, bringing us with it. This is inescapable, with giant powerhouses China and India as our neighbours.

Asean will enjoy unprecedented economic spin-offs.

For instance, China's high-speed rail grid is at the gate of continental Asean and ready to link every city in the region. With greater physical accessibility must come greater intensity of developmental progress.

India is building up bold initiatives under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and will become a regional influence sooner or later, just as it had been in the past.

With the Asean Community affirmed in principle, Singapore is at a crossroads and poised to make giant strides with friends in the region.

For that, we need the will to recalibrate our resources and perhaps galvanise help to uplift the lives of teeming millions in this corner of Asia. We can remain relevant.

Cyril Seah Kwei Hiok

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline 'Fresh opportunities for Singapore with new Asean Community'. Print Edition | Subscribe