Preparing for Singapore 2065

In his commentary ("Letter to my grandchildren in 2065"; Aug 3), Professor Tommy Koh expressed his hope that future generations would not abandon certain values, beliefs and customs - such as love for the nation, the world and family; making friends for life; and being kind, loyal, healthy and rich culturally.

Future Singaporeans need to have a new philosophy and attitude to deal with the vast changes here and around the world.

Conventional values may not be sufficient for Singapore's survival in the next 50 years.

Currently, about one-third of adults remain single and many married couples are not having children. The trend may worsen.

Unless there is a drastic mindset change, as many as half of Singaporeans born after 1990 will not have a descendant by 2065.

This could be one factor that erodes our family institution and weakens our social fabric.

Even if we could sustain our total fertility rate at between 1.1 and 1.4, the number of new babies in the future would drop as our fertile population base declines.

After 2030, or even before that, we will have to increase the number of immigrants and foreign workers, higher than the targets set in the 2013 White Paper on Population.

We should, therefore, tell our young to accept the reality of manpower and population shortages.

Integration of foreigners into our society would be one of the greatest challenges.

Both locals and those born overseas will have to forge a new common identity.

Many nations which depend heavily on immigration will face the same problem; either we overcome the challenge or let the problem overwhelm us.

Future Singaporeans should also be more aware of changes in the global geopolitical landscape.

International relationships will become more complex.

Our young will have to learn how to cooperate with immediate and faraway neighbours, and stay relevant in the changing world.

The world will develop in uncharted ways, and in many aspects, in the next 50 years.

It remains our duty to get the young prepared in advance to deal with any future changes.

Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline 'Preparing for Singapore 2065'. Print Edition | Subscribe