Little red dot must fight, survive in global arena

I wholeheartedly agree with Ms Agnes Sng that Singaporeans owe ourselves and our fellow citizens the duty to carefully appraise the candidates, and not let runaway emotions cloud rational thinking ("Be voters of high calibre"; Tuesday).

We should not let the sound and fury of campaigning override the importance of effective governance and policymaking once our MPs are elected.

Though many policies may, at first sight, negatively impact our well-being, we should assess their implications on a wider arena rather than on our own vested interests.

For example, at a dialogue with MPs in Tampines I attended recently, someone made an impassioned plea to put Singaporeans first in all areas, citing long waiting times in the healthcare system and places of interest.

Viscerally, I agree - our lives would be better if Singaporeans took absolute precedence over foreigners.

However, the MPs warned us about the dangers of parochialism, and its repercussions for us as global citizens.

If Singaporeans become known for our antipathy towards foreigners, we may also get the same tit-for-tat treatment.

An MP gave a poignant example of how Sabah mountain guides risked their lives to save our Singaporean schoolchildren.

On the jobs front, the angst generated by the perceived competition for jobs from foreigners may inadvertently lead to less foreign investment and talent to drive our economy to provide jobs for Singaporeans.

The vulnerabilities of Singapore as a little red dot were starkly brought home to me, especially on the geopolitical front.

We may accuse the Government of being tight-fisted amid rising income inequality, but the flipside of having populist measures, as opposed to fiscal prudence, entails drawing more on our reserves, as well as higher taxes, which will inevitably drain our resources and temper our competitiveness.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Little red dot must fight, survive in global arena'. Print Edition | Subscribe