SINGAPORE - As Singapore looks ahead to 2030 and beyond, key principles behind its system, including that of social transfers to the needy, will remain unchanged, Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing on Thursday.
The principles of social transfers include providing targeted rather than universal help, making sure the burden is not transferred to future generations, and ensuring that spending is sustainable.
He made these points in a wide-ranging speech at the Economic Society of Singapore's annual dinner, where he also highlighted the many global and local forces that will pose challenges to Singapore's continued existence.
Among these is the "most important geopolitical question in the coming decades" - that of navigating the relationship between China and the United States. A number of fast-growing regional neighbours are also becoming economic forces to contend with.
Such geopolitical shifts pose challenges on the economic and social front. One of the social challenges arising from the need to compete globally is immigration and integration. There are also the challenges of balancing integration with creating opportunities for Singaporeans, and developing an inclusive national identity.
He offered four strategies for Singapore to prepare for the various social, political and economic shifts, and which could help it remain relevant and competitive.
First, even as Singaporeans "scale the mountains of the world", they must remain rooted to home and feel driven to give back to the country regardless of where they find success. Next, Singapore "must continue to turn constraints into opportunities" in the same way, for example, that it turned the shortage of water into a strength and now exports water supply technology and know-how. Challenges such as urban management, energy efficiency and environment and air quality management can "open up new areas for us to contribute to the rest of the world and make a living in the process".
Singapore should also leverage on the faith that others have in its standards, law and trust as the competitive advantage it enjoys in these areas can distinguish it in the sea of global competition. Singapore must also remain cohesive, adaptable and resilient, with "the right social compact and values", he said.