Singapore - lessons from the rise and fall of great cities

Singapore is unique in being a city, a state and a nation all at once. Yet its continued success depends on drawing lessons from the likes of New York City, Chang’an and Jericho, said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung in his keynote speech on Thursday (Jan 13) at the Singapore Perspectives 2022 forum organised by the Institute of Policy Studies. Here are edited excerpts from his speech.

What we lack in resources and strategic mass, we can make up with nimbleness, and unity of purpose and action, says Health Minister Ong Ye Kung. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
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I will start by recounting the stories of a few great cities - past and present. I will then draw out key lessons from these cities, and talk about their implications for Singapore, both our present and our future.

My first example is Jericho. It was one of the oldest human settlements dating back to 9,000BC. An old city born of geographical advantage - a combination of good climate, fertile soil, and an abundance of fresh water. These conditions enabled hunter-gatherers to settle over time and cultivate crops. These were a close-knit people. As their numbers grew, a city was formed.

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