10 picks from Opinion articles of 2014

Here’s my pick of 10 articles from the The Straits Times’ Opinion pages.

It’s an idiosyncratic choice, and says nothing about the merit of the hundreds of others that aren’t on this list.

To all contributors, and readers, of the Opinion pages and our website, Thank You and A Happy, Healthy New Year!

1. Tommy Koh’s secret weapon in diplomacy.

The veteran diplomat writes regularly for our By Invitation column. He’s written about being a negotiator, about the China and the South China Sea disputes, about Europe. But this one on his secret weapon in diplomacy is my favourite.

2. Bilahari Kausikan’s riposte to Indonesia

The former permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affair is known in diplomatic circles for his trenchant views on geopolitical issues and his gritty manner in championing Singapore’s foreign policy interests.

The rest of us who can’t observe his diplomacy in action can deduce his style from articles like this one on Kri Usman Harun, on Indonesia’s decision to name a naval vessel after the two marines who bombed MacDonald House in 1965.

3. Another no-holds barred commentary, this time from economics professor and former MP Augustine Tan, who warns that Singapore’s high wages and strong currency can lead the country to economic disaster, as they have in the past.4. An out-of-the-box piece, about the value of giving free money to the poor.

One of those pieces sure to spark social entrepreneurs’ dreams and perhaps policy innovation - yes, including in Singapore.

5. A different take on inter-generational conflict, from Seoul, this piece highlights the tensions manifest even on public transport.

6. Kishore Mahbubani has written a series of 10 Big Ideas to shape Singapore’s future. They include going car-less and improving public transport, to having a more risk-taking public service. One that I particularly appreciated is this one, on how Singapore must prepare for a political crisis.

7. With the high-speed rail between Malaysia and Singapore reportedly under serious study, citizens across both sides of the causeway are hoping this is one bilateral project that is put on the fast track to completion.

In April, our Senior Transport Correspondent Christopher Tan gives the low-downs on what’s needed for the project to succeed.

8. "Democracy of deeds" is a phrase from the late-S Rajaratnam, recently popularised by today’s PAP ministers.

Psychology professor David Chan says Singapore needs a democracy of voices as well, if it is to reverse a “negativity mindset” that can cast a pall over policy debates.

9. In the heat of the National Library saga over children’s books depicting gay penguins, among others, academic Dr Carol Soon wrote this piece. The title says it all, really.

10. Seeing red over something? Pen your fury to the person - and don’t send it. It’s a venerable tradition, according to this article.

In a social media age when you can tweet or reply with smartphone in hand, that’s sage advice.