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Can Singapore Survive and Thrive into the Future? Examining the Nation’s Prospects

Goh Jun Cheng

As a small city-state lacking natural resources, some question Singapore’s viability and whether the country can endure far into the future. But is this skepticism warranted?

This article assesses Singapore’s long-term survival prospects across key dimensions like economics, defense, geopolitics and social resilience.

Introduction

Since independence in 1965, Singapore has progressed remarkably from a low-income developing nation to a first-world economy and global city.

However, its sustainable survival as an independent state remains an existential priority for its leaders and citizens. Singapore must continue thriving despite its inherent constraints as a tiny, densely populated island.

Economic Viability

Singapore’s free market economy must remain productive, innovative and attractive for investment to support rising standards of living. Some key aspects include:

  • Maintaining stable governance, rule of law and efficient infrastructure to appeal to capital and skills. Corruption and red tape could hurt competitiveness.
  • Investing heavily in education, technology and R&D to develop homegrown industries and climb the value chain as costs increase.
  • Staying open and well-connected through trade pacts and globalization. Over-protectionism could leave Singapore isolated.
  • Transitioning smoothly into a digital, knowledge and services economy. Failure to restructure amid trends like automation could cause stagnation.
  • Being economically useful to the world to sustain overseas demand and confidence in Singapore. Global relevance must not decline.

Defense and Security

As a sovereign state, Singapore needs adequate defense capability and regional influence to ensure autonomy and deter aggression. Considerations include:

  • Maintaining credible armed forces through National Service, defense investments and bilateral partnerships. Military weakness could invite coercion.
  • Upholding amicable ties with immediate neighbors Malaysia and Indonesia through cooperation and diplomacy. Strained relationships could jeopardize stability.
  • Contributing to ASEAN solidarity and centrality to have greater sway as a bloc. Disunity weakens the regional buffer.
  • Forging partnerships with major powers like the US and China to benefit from positive engagement. Over-alignment with one side could create resentment.
  • Investing in cybersecurity and counterterrorism capacities as new modes of hybrid warfare and extremist threats emerge.

Social Cohesion and Identity

Domestic social cohesion enables Singapore to make sacrifices for the common good when facing crises. Areas to address:

  • Fostering racial and religious harmony in a diverse immigrant society through sensitive policies and national identity building. Divisions could cripple functionality.
  • Promoting inclusive growth and moderate inequality to prevent social fractures. Perceived unfairness breeds resentment.
  • Creating good governance and participatory channels citizens can rely upon as stakeholders. Alienation could unravel solidarity.
  • Building a sense of national identity and shared destiny amongst native-born generations through symbols, culture, education and values.
  • Keeping politics clean, pragmatic and incorruptible. Corrosive partisanship could obstruct wise policymaking.

Adapting to Climate Change

Singapore’s dense, low-lying geography makes it vulnerable to rising sea levels from global warming. Adaptation is critical:

  • Implementing comprehensive coastal defenses like sea walls, drainage improvements and overflow reservoirs. Unchecked flooding could devastate infrastructure.
  • Enhancing building codes and infrastructure design for climate-change resilience.
  • Diversifying food and water supply sources, given climate impacts on availability and prices.
  • Refurbishing green spaces and urban design for more cooling and drainage.
  • Coordinating regional capacity-building efforts on climate and disaster preparedness.

Conclusion

In summary, Singapore has strong prospects to survive and continue thriving as a nation based on pragmatic governance, adaptable economic policies, critical alliances, social cohesion efforts and climate change preparation.

But continued foresight and vigilance will be needed to overcome its inherent vulnerabilities. By playing to its strengths and judiciously overcoming constraints, Singapore can have a hopeful future.

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