Be bold to shape future economy

After 50 years of nation building, Singapore has grown into a mega city and a well-developed, energetic nation. However, as it has been said, past records do not necessarily represent future success.

To maintain growth and competitiveness in the new world market, Singapore faces the challenge of reshaping or, rather, reinventing its future economy.

Hence, the steering committee for the Future Economy was formed ("30-member committee to chart future of economy"; Dec 22, 2015 and "5 sub-groups to study key areas of Future Economy"; Jan 12).

For the committee to be able to present blueprints that will be embraced by the public and private sectors, it must take the following factors into consideration.

First, because predicting the future is a very tough undertaking, the committee must lay out the possible blueprints for the future economy and find the most plausible scenario.

It also has to analyse the current strengths of our economy and pinpoint which strengths should be developed to form Singapore's competitive edge in future.

Second, the committee has to decide on the scale of implementation as well as sustainability.

This is crucial for the implementation of policies and acquisition of resources.

It is also important to maintain flexibility within the implementation framework to cope with mid-term changes.

Third, there needs to be a drastic change of mindset among the public and private sectors. Great success, as well as innovation, requires boldness and a willingness to push the limits.

However, there should be a framework to manage risks. This should not be too controlling and stiff but should instil a balanced culture of risk management.

We should consider the potential for a strategic breakthrough before we compromise or impose limitations on resources or scale.

There is no easy road ahead, but the journey is doable, as long as we are bold enough.

Ling Ming Hui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2016, with the headline 'Be bold to shape future economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe