There is a sense in which Singapore has been willed, out of sheer necessity, to success ever since Independence. An island city-state with hardly any natural resources, it was not expected to last long in the predatory global economic jungle. It not only survived, but also succeeded precisely because early Singaporeans knew how high the stakes were. The ethnic dissension of the pre-Independence years could have condemned the fledgling nation to conflict and strife, but economic success laid the building blocks of a new society in which the prospects of each contributed to the future of all. In a matter of years, the ability to survive against the odds became a part of the national DNA.
Today, on its 54th National Day, Singapore enjoys far greater material, educational, social and psychological resources to meet challenges ahead than it had in 1965. For example, the Sino-American strategic contest, manifested in the trade and currency dispute, is ominous for smaller countries, notably those like Singapore which depend on globalisation and the free exchange of goods and services to make a living. However, the situation was hardly more propitious during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Unlike then, Singapore today has the economic resources with which to meet an international downturn brought on by great-power rivalry.