2017 in a word: Innovation

 The Singapore Flyer against the Singapore CBD skyline.
The Singapore Flyer against the Singapore CBD skyline.PHOTO: ST FILE

LOOKING AHEAD

While 2017 may also be fraught with challenges, stakeholders say the key is in innovating to meet them head-on.

Already, changes are brewing behind the scenes.

In the coming year, Singaporeans can expect to enjoy, for instance, flights connecting Changi Airport to destinations farther afield, as the airport strives to maintain its position as a key aviation hub.

Changi Airport Group's chief executive Lee Seow Hiang said Terminal 4's opening later this year is pivotal to the airport's growth.

ESM GOH CHOK TONG ON THE NEW YEAR

I do not feel at ease about the New Year. Many uncertainties and disruptive forces are at work. Some concerns: Will Trump's 'Make America Great Again' unsettle the world with a transactional win-lose attitude? Will Xi's China Dream and China's peaceful rise become increasingly assertive? And will Abe's desire to make Japan a normal country breed suspicion of its intent in East Asia?

Domestically, how will technology and slow global economic growth disrupt the lives of our workers?
Whatever 2017 may bring, we cannot despair. We have to adapt to changes outside our control and make the most of factors within our control. For example, strengthen good relations with our neighbouring countries; share the fruits of economic growth and continue to plant new trees; and nurture in our young the 'can do' resilient spirit of our pioneer generation.

Most importantly, keep our chin up and be confident of who we are, our values, and our determination to secure our own future."

EMERITUS SENIOR MINISTER GOH CHOK TONG, in a Facebook post yesterday

Global competition in the aviation industry will intensify, he noted, as countries and businesses grapple with weaker economic growth, rising oil prices, and global political and security uncertainty.

"However, opportunities abound as the desire to travel grows along with Changi's connectivity to more countries and cities, helped by the airlines' introduction of newer planes that are more fuel-efficient and can fly farther."

In the retail sector, shopping malls will be pushed to offer shoppers more interesting experiences from pop-up shops to new food and beverage concepts.

Unlisted Collection's Mr Loh said mall landlords are now starting to relook the way they do things - such as more flexible rental terms. With competition from online retailers heating up, bricks-and-mortar businesses will offer more in-store attractions, including make-up lessons and photography workshops, he said.

Mr Vijayendran expects lawyers to build sustainable practices and rightsize their firms. "I anticipate growth in areas such as dispute resolution, restructuring and insolvency and community law. So, all will not be doom and gloom," he said.

Dr Lim Poh Lian, a senior consultant at Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Department of Infectious Diseases, said there will be constant vigilance for outbreaks Singapore is vulnerable to, such as Mers in the Middle East, and H7N9 avian flu in China.

LEAVING NONE BEHIND

With the "gig economy" on the rise, Mr Ang said labour MPs will be pushing the Government at this year's Budget to consider how to protect "tied freelancers" - for example, security for retirement and medical coverage. "Under the 'gig economy', an employer can go through a third-party platform and buy services, they don't have to hire a worker directly. The worry for such a worker is: 'Am I left with a poorer choice?'" Mr Ang said.

GovTech's Ms Poh said that as the Government places more citizen services online, it will ensure those who are elderly and less technologically savvy will still get access to these services.

The 26 Citizen Connect Centres around the island are being upgraded - kiosks will be height-adjustable for wheelchair users, and home pages of the tablets redesigned.

Housing Board chief executive Cheong Koon Hean pledged that those living in older estates will not be left out.

This year, HDB will reach out to residents in Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Pasir Ris to seek feedback on plans to upgrade their towns. It will also continue with programmes to improve older estates and enhance flats for senior citizens.

While more families will be affected by the gloomy economy, there will be a buffer, said Ms Chee Wai Yee, head of social work and psychosocial services at Dover Park Hospice. "Social workers, hopefully, can see ourselves as 'shock absorbers' and do our part to cushion the challenges for families," she said.

Additional reporting by Toh Yong Chuan, Tan Tam Mei, Linette Lai, Janice Heng, Melody Zaccheus , Janice Tai, K.C. Vijayan, Yuen Sin, Tiffany Fumiko Tay, Karamjit Kaur, Audrey Tan, Irene Tham

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 01, 2017, with the headline '2017 in a word: Innovation'. Print Edition | Subscribe