Forum: Innovation is a key driver in the journey towards SG100

Watching the recent celebrations of the centenary of the Communist Party of China, I wondered what Singapore's centenary to mark its independence would be like in 2065.

We have had two milestones thus far, the "25 Years of Nation Building" commemoration in 1984 and the 2015 Golden Jubilee. The much lauded factors then were racial harmony, meritocracy, and an honest and efficient government.

We had templates for our past successes. Going forward, these values, while necessary, may be insufficient for future successes.

An overriding factor that will propel Singapore is innovation. Compared with countries known for their vibrant start-up ecosystems and winners of Nobel prizes, Singapore seems to be lagging. We will need to change our mindsets in tectonic ways.

A good starting point will be decoupling academic achievements to becoming an "un-college" nation, with continuing education serving as a new way of managing continual disruption, and more expected inflexion points in the future.

Politically, we have moved towards a nation in conversation, with richer public discourse and active popular participation.

This is a necessary mind-liberating environment for innovative thinking to flourish.

Calculated risk-taking today in an increasingly educated and fake-news-discerning population should be safe. Excessive tightening is not without risks too, with scepticism and resentment being possible offshoots.

Singapore is at the threshold of the next 50 years; it must start to think and plan for the "moonshots". This is beyond a 10 per cent increase, it is 10 times that, and it requires us to think and do things in entirely new ways.

May we celebrate SG100 by being one of the most innovative nations on earth with, hopefully, a few global start-ups and Nobel Laureates in our midst by then.

Wong Horng Ginn