Take steps now to shape our future

Professor Tommy Koh's commentary gave a crisp account of how Singapore was shaped in the last 700 years by traders from around the region (The world in Singapore; Dec 5).

Modern Singapore was formed about six decades ago. It has transformed from a Third World to a First World state under the leadership of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues.

By the mid-1980s, Singapore was widely praised as a progressive and cohesive nation. Yet, Mr Lee warned Singaporeans not to take for granted that Singapore would last a hundred years.

Geopolitical circumstances have changed rapidly in the last 30 years, dominated by the rapid rise of China and India. Due to our low fertility rate, the inflow of immigrants from China and India is expected to continue. The two regional powers will assert greater influence than before in shaping Singapore - economically, and, perhaps, politically.

Singapore's future will depend heavily on how different people, including new citizens, are drawn togetherto establish a common vision on the kind of society we want to achieve. A prerequisite for this is that new immigrants must be integrated into our society.

The United States and other Western nations would likely remain influential in the Indo-Pacific region, making geopolitics here even more complex.

A strong Singapore identity is needed now more than ever.

Let us not take Mr Lee's concern for granted. We should recognise our vulnerabilities and take steps to counter them.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2017, with the headline 'Take steps now to shape our future'. Print Edition | Subscribe