Economic Affairs

Singapore's future lies in the past

Singapore should do more to leverage its location in South-east Asia and get to understand the language and culture of the Malay-speaking world better, rather than depend on the rise of China or the West to keep thriving


The dominant narrative in global affairs these days is that "the West" is "retreating" from globalisation while China is "rising", with the intimation that this poses a threat to global prosperity and security, including to Singapore.

Western retreat has been implied from a series of significant developments: the 2016 Brexit vote and Trump election; the rise of populist-nativist political parties in Europe; increasing trade protectionism and restrictions on foreign investment and immigration; more stringent regulation of tax-and-subsidy arbitrage and competition policy; hints of a revival of national industrial policies; and some high-profile examples of "reshoring" of global business to the United States.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore's future lies in the past'. Print Edition | Subscribe