What lies ahead for Singapore? Ask Tharman on Singapolitics

DEPUTY Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has been the mastermind of Singapore's economic policies for the past five years, helming the Finance and Manpower Ministries as well as chairing the central bank.

He has also laid out one of Singapore's most ambitious restructuring plans, in a bid to shift the country's economic gears and move it up the productivity ladder over the next 10 years.

But what lies ahead?

The Straits Times is giving Singaporeans an opportunity to tap DPM Tharman's insights, and find out what can be expected in the coming years.

We consulted economists and analysts to produce a list of more than 40 questions that need to be raised, from the recent Budget measures to our economic future and the state of Singapore politics.

Of these questions, we will put up 20 today on singapolitics.sg

Singaporeans can pick which question they want DPM Tharman to answer.

The voting period is from today till next Thursday. The 10 questions with the most votes will be posed to DPM Tharman, who will answer them in a video interview with Straits Times journalists.

This opportunity to engage DPM Tharman is timely as it comes just after the Government delivered a milestone Budget with many surprises. These included reviewing key assumptions about some of the most important social and economic policies, including wealth redistribution, health care and housing.

DPM Tharman also said in his Budget speech that the objective of the review was not just about successful policies but also "about responsibilities and values", as Singapore journeys into a critical period.

Dr Leong Chan-Hoong, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, agreed with DPM Tharman's prognosis.

"Singapore is undergoing a major social, economic and political transformation," he said. "Some Singaporeans are feeling disenfranchised with where the country is going and the seemingly never-ending social angst about identity, governance, and the economy."

Likewise, OCBC economist Selena Ling, who contributed questions for the vote, said that while the policies were well articulated, a grand vision was missing.

"We used to talk about Singapore being a Switzerland. Has that changed? What are we aiming for with all these changes and how are we going to afford them?" she asked.

"That's what I hope DPM Tharman will elaborate on."

aaronl@sph.com.sg