S'pore cannot afford to stay ordinary

Singapore is facing complex and formidable challenges, and must continue to adapt to an ever-changing environment ("Fresh, bold ideas to face complex challenges"; last Friday).

The rise of emerging markets that are reshaping the global economy will pose new challenges to the world, and Singapore is no exception.

The financial markets will likely worsen before they become better.

Gone are the days of high growth and for Singapore to maintain a decent level of economic growth, it must rely more on innovation, creativity and enterprise.

This is critical because our fertility rate has fallen sharply and our population is ageing rapidly.

Our future lies in inventing new ideas, industries and processes, as well as niche and value-added services.

This will require greater efforts to revamp our education system and develop more start-ups, which means more tax incentives and a stronger safety net to encourage entrepreneurs to risk failure.

While the Singapore brand of efficiency, sound corporate governance, honest government, rule of law, efficacy and reliability is our trademark, the ruling party must not stay static but continue to reach out to young voters.

This is challenging because, unlike those in the older generation, young people think differently, with access to many social media platforms and apps, and believe they do not owe the Government anything.

So, it really depends on the choices made by the younger generation.

As a small island, Singapore cannot be ordinary and the challenge ahead is how to make our society more tight-knit and increase our productivity, to do things better and cheaper than our competitors.

That is what makes us different.

It is not just the challenge of personal survival, but also how we can preserve our unity as a nation and work as one family community.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2015, with the headline 'S'pore cannot afford to stay ordinary'. Print Edition | Subscribe