TL;DR – Be pragmatic, not ideological..
Speaking at a lunch forum organised by the Foreign Correspondents Association (Singapore), Minister Chan Chun Sing emphasized that regardless of who becomes the next Prime Minister, there will be business continuity in Singapore. He said:
“In Singapore, you’re not going to expect as if person A becomes the Prime Minister versus person B, that the direction is going to be so diametrically opposite as to cause a huge discontinuity or disruptions… you can have confidence that there will be business continuity in Singapore… (and we will) constantly reinvent ourselves to stay relevant to the world.”
That is an assurance the many businesses that have invested billions into building factories and setting up various outfits in Singapore need to hear.
Need to balance between stability and disrupting ourselves
Yes, we agree that it would be too disruptive if we were to go in the opposite direction on all major policies. But given the increasing rate of change in geopolitical situation and global economic conditions, it is likely that we would need to be agile to stay relevant and stay ahead of the competition.
We shouldn’t shy away from pivoting and changing directions. If need be, we should discard old ways of doing things, and even slaughter sacred cows which have outlived their usefulness. In other words, we should be pragmatic, not ideological.
Challenge the norms, think out of the box, be innovative. Do what works, discard those that don’t.
Minister Chan hinted that this is something that the government is trying to do. He touched on how Singapore has to find new ways of transcending its geographical constraints in order to ensure economic growth.
He pointed out that Singapore now has to compete in new dimensions of global connectivity in the form of data, finance, technology and talent. He said:
“In the past it was trading with Singapore, then you have trading through Singapore … (where) we are competing on a global supply chain level … but now in a new network economy, can you trade on Singapore – on the Singapore platform – even if they don’t come to or through Singapore”
If we are able to get the balance between providing stability with being innovative as we continually disrupt ourselves, then we have a decent chance of continuing to survive and thrive for many more years to come. It’s a tall order. Let’s hope that we have enough capable people to lead us in finding that balance.