World leaders must heed call to action

President Xi speaking at the opening of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China on Sept 4. He urged G-20 leaders to turn the group into an action team, instead of a talk shop.
President Xi speaking at the opening of the G-20 summit in Hangzhou, China on Sept 4. He urged G-20 leaders to turn the group into an action team, instead of a talk shop.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Chinese President Xi Jinping's prudent remarks at the Group of 20 summit that action and follow-up need to replace endless discussion are just the latest warning of the strident ineffectiveness of current world leadership and strategy ("Xi to G-20: Let's have more action than talk"; Sept 5).

We have seen this in the Brexit vote in Britain, and the sudden rise of political leaders from outside the political mainstream, such as Mr Donald Trump in the United States.

Here in Asia, we don't have to look much further than the election of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and the entry of seven new localist legislators in Hong Kong ("Young radicals enter HK's Legco"; Sept 6), to gauge the dissatisfaction with the status quo in world politics.

These trends and aspirations are accelerating worldwide, both in developed and developing countries.

This breakdown in trust between politicians and voters has spread to criticism of all things represented by the traditional model, espoused by the elite governing class.

Particularly of concern is the growing resistance to the globalisation of the world economy, which has lifted so many out of poverty, and on which Singapore depends.

The Singapore economy will be one of the first to falter when world trade is threatened.

Resistance to agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement suggests slowing trade and low growth ahead worldwide.

It is time for elected world leaders to heed this clarion call to action.The voting booth beckons and portends a message that what they do is more important than what they say as elected leaders.

World governments and institutions can no longer continue to deliberate the future of the world's inhabitants without coming up with meaningful solutions to the problems that each of us faces every day.

David Grant

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2016, with the headline 'World leaders must heed call to action'. Print Edition | Subscribe