Experts tackle changes, challenges of 2017 at ST Global Outlook Forum

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How can Singapore as a society encourage risk-taking and support those willing to forsake a degree to chase new opportunities? PHOTO: ST FILE
Leading off the ST Global Outlook Forum is Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Mr Warren Fernandez, The Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group, speaking at the forum. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan speaking at the forum. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Participants listening at the forum. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - With a President Donald Trump in the White House, a looming Brexit, and a leadership transition in China, 2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for Asia's leaders and policymakers.

To help make sense of these changes and the challenges they pose, The Straits Times has assembled some of the sharpest minds in the region for a forum on Tuesday (Nov 29). Leading off the forum is keynote speaker, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who will talk about the imperative of managing interdependence at a time of leadership changes in the United States and China.

Other speakers include Professor Wang Gungwu, chairman of the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, East Asian Institute and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy; Professor K. Mitra, director of the Institute of South Asian Studies; and Ms Selena Ling, head of treasury research and strategy at OCBC Bank.

They are speaking at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Titled 2017: New Leaders, New Challenges for Asia, this year's edition of the annual conference is held in partnership with sponsor, OCBC Premier Banking. Some 350 people are attending the forum.

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Responding to questions on the seizure of the Singapore Armed Forces' Terrex armoured vehicles by Hong Kong customs, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore will not allow any single issue to hijack its relationship with China.

"Our Global Outlook Forum has become a marker in the year, a time to pause and look back at events of the year and ahead to what's to come," said Mr Warren Fernandez, The Straits Times editor and editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/Malay/Tamil Media Group.

Prof Wang will look at the leadership reshuffle in China and what this augurs for the region.

While India is not going through a leadership change, it is an Asian power whose actions are felt beyond its borders. Prof Mitra will focus on some of the challenges that the Narendra Modi government needs to address, including managing the demonetisation drive and danger posed by religious intolerance.

Ms Ling will be reading the tea leaves for Asia's economy in the light of the slowdown of the Chinese growth engine and likely policy changes that come with the new US administration.

The Straits Times' US bureau chief Jeremy Au Yong will give his take on what the results of the Nov 8 presidential election tell us about the mood of American voters and how that could influence Washington's foreign policy towards Asia.

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