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More dialogue needed on building a sustainable future

It is reassuring to read that the Government is planning ahead and taking on bold challenges (Thinking big pays off for planners; Feb 4).

This planning is essential, for we are still a "little red dot" and have to work smart to thrive. I am thankful for the many unseen heroes who have contributed to our nation's infrastructure.

In our land-scarce island, careful and far-sighted infrastructure planning is needed as the country forges ahead, while preserving selected historical icons. The balance between old and new will always be debated, and it is good that we are doing so.

There should be more dialogue in Singapore about sustainability, focusing on issues that will affect our path to infrastructure excellence, including:

• Climate change and its possible effects: Singapore is a small, low-lying island. What will be the effects when sea levels rise a metre or two? What will happen to our ports when the Arctic passage becomes the main shipping channel instead of the Strait of Malacca?

• Work and workers: Currently, we are very reliant on low-cost foreign workers in many of our construction projects. Is this sustainable? Is this always ethical?

• Our changing demographic: What design changes need to be in place to ensure that our ageing population can be active participants in society? This could be in tandem with design features that enable our population - young and old, abled or with some disability - to be physically active rather than rely too much on automation to move from place to place.

I am sure there are experts who have been studying these issues. I hope more can be done to inform, educate and involve Singaporeans to consider our future with respect to climate change and sustainability.

Tan Lai Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 11, 2018, with the headline 'More dialogue needed on building a sustainable future'. Print Edition | Subscribe