S'pore has transcended city-state constraint

Singapore will flourish as a going concern in the next century only if our children run faster than their global competitors on the hopefully optimal course determined by sapient leadership.
Singapore will flourish as a going concern in the next century only if our children run faster than their global competitors on the hopefully optimal course determined by sapient leadership. PHOTO: ST FILE

That Singapore is only a city-state that can be easily snuffed out as an inconsequential footnote of history is immutable. That we have time and time again transcended this "constraint", despite Dr Patrick Liew Siow Gian's reservations with the term, is the only reason why Singapore not only exists, but thrives (Positioning Singapore for growth, May 7).

In land and population size, we will never match even most of the nations of our already small regional bloc. Using this alone as criteria, Singapore as a small city state can never fight for what's right and fair for itself. As Greek historian Thucydides wrote: "Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

That we are relevant and have a disproportionately loud voice in the international arena fighting for what's right and wrong is surely founded on a bedrock of success, as pointed out by retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan. This bedrock is constantly being chipped away by unremitting neighbourly competition.

Singapore will flourish as a going concern in the next century only if our children run faster than their global competitors on the hopefully optimal course determined by sapient leadership.

Yet, it is clear local talent alone will not take us to the next level needed for innovative research, inventive financial manoeuvring and epoch-defining IT development. But the import of foreign talent is disruptive and disturbing to the local populace and bears with it backlash and dissent.

The Government will have its hands full steering the new course for the country and convincing us of the hard choices needed to be made, even as no Singaporean should be left too far behind and no expression of dissent left unheard.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore has transcended city-state constraint'. Print Edition | Subscribe