Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ten challenges for Singapore in the next 50 years

With Singapore celebrating 50 years since independence, the government has begun the usual round of self-congratulatory tributes.

Former prime minister Goh Chok Tong gave a very interesting speech at the weekend, which while paying the necessary dues to the leagacy of Lee Kwan Yew (and himself), also outlined ten major challenges facing Singapore.

It's well worth reading and, no doubt, deserves a good fisking as well. I've extracted the ten main challenges:

1. Can you maintain Singapore’s high economic growth and keep on improving on our standard of living?

2. How do you convince Singaporeans that their lives will get better when they are already living in good-quality public and private housing?

3. How do you satisfy the transport demands of the next generation for comfort, convenience, congestion-free travel and punctuality of services and their expectation of affordable fares, ERP and parking charges?

4. Can you stamp out these diseases [cancer, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure] the way we did with infectious diseases like TB, malaria, typhoid and polio? Can you keep health care costs down and affordable?

5. Can you design a new training programme, Workfare and Job Credit Scheme for grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents?

6. What will get our young to marry and have children? Any creative ideas on procreation?

7. How do we support so many senior citizens? How will we look after our parents and grandparents? Will you build more community hospitals, nursing and old folk homes, and keep them affordable?

8. How much more land can we reclaim over the next 50 years? As our population and economy continue to grow, how will we deal with the challenge of limited land for economic expansion while preserving sufficient space for housing and recreational needs? Will Singapore be over crowded?

9. We have to accept that more Singaporeans will study and work overseas and that some may settle abroad. But how do we bond them to Singapore, physically if possible, and if not, at least emotionally. How do we ensure that most will return home and contribute to Singapore which gave them the foundation for their success? How do we ensure that there will always be a core of honest, able and dedicated Singaporeans to look after the country and their fellowmen?

10. How do we ensure that Singaporeans of different faiths will continue to mix with one another and respect one another’s faith?

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