SG+50: Future Trends 2065 - Trends that will shape Singapore over the next half century

SINGAPORE - Leading thinkers give their take on trends that will shape Singapore for the next 50 years each Monday in The Straits Times Opinion pages.

Read the articles here:

42 years, 500 million TEU containers, one PSA

HAVE you ever wondered why the container is measured in Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), while the ships that carry them are measured in metres?

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You are right if you guessed it was an American invention. When Malcom McLean first invented the container in the 1950s, he could not have anticipated that it would become one of the most powerful forces of change in the world. The first shipment, on a vessel named the Ideal X, carried only 58 containers from Newark to Houston in April 1956. The gains in labour, space and speed were huge and immediate.  READ MORE HERE

Will small still be beautiful in 2065?

THE 50 years since Singapore's modern journey began has been a good time for small countries.

Although this was not at all obvious in 1965 - there were serious challenges that had to be overcome by a city state with no natural resources and an uncertain regional context - the strategic international environment over the next several decades turned out to be strongly positive for small countries. Globalisation provided new economic opportunities, and a relatively stable international political environment protected against security risks.

Small has been beautiful. READ MORE HERE

Foreign policy is no laughing matter

As Singapore and the region change, foreign policy will be drawn into domestic political discussions. Singaporeans need to develop common instincts on foreign policy and not be swayed by big powers' attempts to influence views here.

By Bilahari Kausikan For The Straits Times

POLITICS in Singapore is becoming more complex.

Basic assumptions and policies are being challenged, not just by opposition parties but also by civil-society groups and ordinary citizens. There is nothing particularly surprising about this. It is a natural consequence of democratic politics and a more educated electorate and we will just have to learn how to deal with it.

Foreign policy, too, will inevitably be drawn into domestic politics. The first signs are clear but not promising. READ MORE HERE

Singapore's 'Chinese dilemma' as China rises

How will Singapore fare, as a majority Chinese society in the region, with a China expected to be more assertive in the future?

By Wang Gungwu For The Straits Times

THE United States talks about re-balancing to Asia; the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) wants a strategic balance between China and America. After 50 years, Singapore has maintained, like Asean, that it does not want to have to choose between America and China in the region.

But what of China? What does China want?

As Singapore celebrates its Jubilee Year and looks towards the future, it has to do so with a hard-headed look at its biggest neighbour China. Singapore needs to have a realistic assessment of China's intentions, America's resolve, and the place of Asean and Singapore in the region, in order to chart its course in the geopolitical future world. READ MORE HERE

A new world order, thanks to Lee Kuan Yew

What might the geopolitical landscape look like in 2065? A veteran Pacific watcher gazes into the crystal ball with a touch of whimsy.

By Tom Plate For The Straits Times

THE following may prove difficult to believe, but - trust me - a great deal will probably happen over the next 50 years. So be a little patient, please.

Let us start by imagining... a summer day in 2065.

A standard morning with the usual inescapable equatorial humidity. Two unspectacularly dressed diplomats trudge out of a government building as if the weight of the world were on their shoulders. READ MORE HERE

Wanted: A new Pioneer Generation bold enough to change mindsets

An ageing population. Climate change raising sea levels. Always-on technology. In this brave new world, Singapore needs a generation bold enough to change mindsets.

By Peter Ho For The Straits Times

THE passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew in March has generated a tremendous amount of reflection on how he transformed Singapore from a Third World backwater into a First World city-state within less than two generations.

But as Mr Lee himself said: "The past was not pre-ordained. Nor is the future. There are as many unexpected problems ahead, as there were in the past."

We cannot predict the future. Anyone would be hard-pressed to know how things will turn out in 10 to 20 years' time. What more to forecast the world 50 years into the future? READ MORE HERE

World city or regional backwater?

By Peter Schwartz For The Straits Times

Singapore of 2065 could be a world capital of gleaming towers, creative talent, power, influence and wealth; the most important centre of a region of peace and prosperity; and an inspiration to those who dream of what it takes to build a better society.

Or by 2065, Singapore could be mostly faded glory, not a bad place to be, but one with a better history than future.

There is a third possibility of a slowly growing developed city - but that would still lead the city-state into a slow but inexorable decline: Think of a graceful old age with declining prospects. READ MORE HERE