TL;DR – We still have much going for us.
Singapore isn’t without our detractors. They think that Singapore’s best years are behind us. Some of these detractors are Singaporeans. Why would they think that?
Perhaps they think that way because they see that Singapore’s economic growth is slowing down. They read certain pieces of news and think that Singapore is missing out on many opportunities. For example, they see that China isn’t pumping money to build ports and railways in Singapore. Look at Malaysia. China is building so many ports in Malaysia! Surely those ports will spell the doom of Singapore!
Major shipping companies are shifting their operations from Malaysia’s main shipping hub in Port Klang to Singapore under new alliance agreements. These major shipping companies even include China’s state owned shipping company China Cosco Shipping, which is the world’s fourth-largest player.
This has seriously affected business at the Malaysian port. Cargo throughput was down a sharp 8.4% in the second quarter of this year to 3 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), while the first quarter saw a flat growth of only 0.9%.
This has raised questions about China’s commitment to supporting the logistics industry in China. Former Port Klang Authority chairman Lee Hwa Beng said:
“Only Kuantan Port has Chinese equity so far because it also aids Beijing’s South China Sea claims. Other infrastructure plans have either not taken off or are only loans, or worse, just Chinese companies winning construction deals”
We can hold our own against our competitors
And it’s not just shipping companies that are moving their operations back to Singapore. Five years ago, Qantas moved set Dubai as a stopover for its Australia-Europe flights. But it recently announced that it will return to Changi Airport in March 2018. That is a significant boost to Singapore’s air hub status.
The fact that major shipping companies and airlines are moving to Singapore shows that Singapore’s port is still very competitive. We have the systems and processes in place to provide value for money. The things that we built won’t end up being massive white elephants. Perhaps that’s something that our neighbours haven’t quite learnt.
More importantly, these news show that even as business environment changes, and as new challenges come up, Singapore can still hold our own. Yes, we shouldn’t be complacent. Yes, we need to keep on improving.
Yes, we need to upgrade our technology.
And yes, we are #SmartNation.
Take our port for example.
PSA is investing S$3.5 billion in class-leading infrastructure and the latest port technology to develop Phases 3 and 4 of its Pasir Panjang Terminal (PPT). PPT Phases 3 and 4 will feature an automated container yard equipped with proprietary intelligent planning and operation systems, as well as unmanned, rail mounted gantry cranes. These improvements will make our port more sustainable and productive.
Fear not, keep calm, and carry on
But, unlike what some people will have us believe, Singapore, and Singaporeans, are able to weather storms and hold off challengers. We just need to continue having faith in ourselves and not let our detractors convince us otherwise.