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Choose your own future economy

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What would you do if you could decide Singapore's future?

The Singapore government is in the midst of planning the country's next long-term economic strategy, with the high-powered Committee for the Future Economy tasked to explore the nation's options. The challenges can be daunting, with a lacklustre outlook for the global economy, an ageing population and disruptive forces casting long shadows. But where there are challenges there are also opportunities, and glory be to those who can catch them all.

What if you got to call the shots? What would you do if you were in charge? What do you think matters most? How far ahead should our plans stretch?

Do you have what it takes to choose your own future economy?

Begin the game

 

In the beginning

 

“Congratulations, Prime Minister. Good win,” your personal assistant says as you step into your office for the first time since the elections.

The elections were tough, but the best victories are the ones you have to fight for. The results turned out to be better than anybody was expecting, and you now have a clear mandate to lead Singapore.

“Thanks, my trusty PA,” you say. You can never remember the names of trivial plot devices. “But the euphoria will wear off in a few months, reality will set in and we’ll need to have something to show for it. So let’s get started. Are they here?”

“Yup,” your assistant says. “The ministers arrived about half an hour ago.”

A quiet discussion is already taking place among your most trusted and experienced colleagues when you arrive at the meeting room.

“Thank you for all the hard work during the campaign, but as I’ve said many times, the real work begins now,” you say. “We have an opportunity, and a need, to chart the next chapter of Singapore’s long-term strategy. So besides thinking about the next cabinet, I want us all to also think about how we can plan for the future of our economy.”

“Why don’t we create a committee for that? Those always work great,” a voice pipes up from the back. It is Mani Inderbank, the soon-to-be Finance Minister.

1 Yes, let’s create a committee

2 No, let’s not

 

Let's start a committee

 

“A committee’s a great idea,” you reply. “We should gather experts and visionaries to form a consultative body in order to determine critical policy.”

“What shall we call this committee?” Mani asks.

Hmm…

1 The Committee on Tomorrow’s Here Today

2 The Committee on the Future Economy

3 The Committee on Transformatising and Restructurisation of the National Production Strategy, Including Manufacturing and Services, for the Post-Present Period

 

Genius does not consult

 

“A committee’s a terrible idea,” you reply. “What good can possibly come from gathering experts and visionaries together to form a consultative body in order to determine critical policy? No, the most efficient and effective gameplans come from the minds of geniuses, and we’re fortunate to have one in our midst.”

There is silence in the room as your colleagues look at one another, trying to detect hints of ingenuity.

“Mani!” you say after the silence becomes awkward. “You’re the brightest of the bunch. You figure out what we need to do. Get me a 20-page report by Thursday, and we’ll take it from there.”

“When duty calls, I will answer,” Mani sighs. “Dutifully.”

A sleep-deprived Mani turns in his report on Thursday, as directed. It is a splendid paper on brilliantly white paper, double-spaced, in an exquisite typeface and generously sprinkled with bullet points.

It is also disastrously inadequate and in some areas dangerously wrong, as everybody realises two years later when the economy plunges into a severe recession and exhausts its reserves, straddling the future economy with crippling debt and a combustible level of structural unemployment.

You are struck in the head by projectile durian in the riot of 2019. As your life ebbs away, you think to yourself: You really can’t play this little game if you’re going to be so cynical about everything.

1 Start again?

2 All done?

 

Let's go, right away

 

“Just call it the Committee on Tomorrow’s Here Today,” you say.

“What does that mean?” Mani asks.

“What do you mean, what does that mean?” you reply.

“Well, if tomorrow’s here today, doesn’t it become today? Then you wouldn’t call it tomorrow anymore, right? Technically, once tomorrow’s here, it’s already today, it’s no longer tomorrow. Tomorrow is really more like a rolling target, so it’s kind of odd to say th–”

“Look, if it’s good enough to be our 2016 National Day song, it’s good enough for me.”

“But–”

“Sorry, I’m pulling rank on this one. Come, let’s go, right away, ‘cause tomorrow’s here today.”

“Fine.”

You smile, happy for the rousing debate. Little victories add up, and will contribute to your legend.

“Mani,” you say, getting back on topic. “Could you help to start the ball rolling on this? Let’s meet in a couple of weeks to figure out the scope of this initiative.”

 

You meet Mani again two weeks later.

“I’ve started talking to a number of people to get a feel for what they think are the key issues,” Mani says.

“The first is to improve innovation and capabilities at businesses. The second is to identify key sectors or industries that will drive growth in the next 10 to 20 years and what Singapore should focus on. The third is figuring out how economies and nations will relate to one another in the future and how Singapore can maintain relevance in the new world. The fourth is to address sustainability and quality of life. Last, but not least, we also have to think about how to prepare workers for the jobs of the future.

“We’ll assemble subcommittees to examine each of these issues more closely. How far ahead do you think we should be thinking about?” Mani asks.

1 One year

2 Five years

3 10 years and beyond

 

A rose by any other name

 

“Just call it the Committee on the Future Economy,” you say. “Mani, could you help to start the ball rolling on this? Let’s meet in a couple of weeks to figure out the scope of this initiative.”

You meet Mani again two weeks later.

“I’ve started talking to a number of people to get a feel for what they think are the key issues,” Mani says.

“The first is to improve innovation and capabilities at businesses. The second is to identify key sectors or industries that will drive growth in the next 10 to 20 years and what Singapore should focus on. The third is figuring out how economies and nations will relate to one another in the future and how Singapore can maintain relevance in the new world. The fourth is to address sustainability and quality of life. Last, but not least, we also have to think about how to prepare workers for the jobs of the future.”

“We’ll assemble subcommittees to examine each of these issues more closely. How far ahead do you think we should be thinking about?” Mani asks.

1 One year

2 Five years

3 10 years and beyond

 

Rolls off the tongue

 

“Just call it the Committee on Transformatising and Restructurisation of the National Production Strategy,” you say.

“Transformatising and Restructurisation?”

“Including Manufacturing and Services.”

“Including Manufacturing and Services?”

“For the Post-Present Period.”

“What?”

“The Committee on Transformatising and Restructurisation of the National Production Strategy, Including Manufacturing and Services, for the Post-Present Period,” you declare.

Mani is speechless for quite a few moments, but he finally gathers himself enough to speak.

“That’s brilliant. That name will inspire generations of Singaporeans to come,” he says. “It is an honour to witness this piece of history being made.”

“Oh, Mani, don’t exaggerate,” you say, sheepishly. But you know he is right.

“Mani, I’ll need you to start the ball rolling on this,” you quickly say to shift the adoring attention of your colleagues away from yourself. “Let’s meet in a couple of weeks to figure out the scope of this initiative.”

You meet Mani again two weeks later.

“I’ve started talking to a number of people to get a feel for what they think are the key issues,” Mani says.

“The first is to improve innovation and capabilities at businesses. The second is to identify key sectors or industries that will drive growth in the next 10 to 20 years and what Singapore should focus on. The third is figuring out how economies and nations will relate to one another in the future and how Singapore can maintain relevance in the new world. The fourth is to address sustainability and quality of life. Last, but not least, we also have to think about how to prepare workers for the jobs of the future.

“We’ll assemble subcommittees to examine each of these issues more closely. How far ahead do you think we should be thinking about?” Mani asks.

1 One year

2 Five years

3 10 years and beyond

 

Short and sweet

 

“One year should be enough,” you say. “There’s too much uncertainty in the world today to try to plan beyond that.”

“Isn’t it a little pointless to go through all of this trouble just to look ahead by a year?” Mani asks.

“Yes. Yes it is,” you concede.

1 This ending’s a little abrupt, which is kind of like one-year economic masterplans, don’t you think? Try again.

2 All done?

 

The middle path

 

“Let’s aim for a five-year strategy,” you say. “There’s too much uncertainty in the world today to try to plan beyond that.”

“Five years is doable, but you know, planning for just five years doesn’t leave a lot of room to achieve big, meaningful changes,” Mani notes.

“I considered that,” you tell him. “But we can go through this exercise again in five years and recalibrate it at that time. I can accept small, incremental change in exchange for being right.”

“Fair enough,” Mani replies. “We’ll get to work.”

At the end of the year, the Committee is ready to announce its findings. At a press conference, a reporter asks, “Prime Minister, of the five issues that the Committee looked at, which one do you think is the most challenging?”

1 Building corporate capabilities and innovation

2 Identifying growth industries and markets

3 Harnessing connectivity

4 Building the city of the future

5 Jobs and skills

 

The long view

 

“Let’s aim for a 10-year strategy, and even beyond that if possible,” you say.

“Do you think there might be too much uncertainty to make such a long-term plan?” Mani asks.

“We won’t get everything right,” you concede. “But some things like education and infrastructure are inevitably long-term, so any policy on those matters should be guided by a long-term plan. We can always tweak it as we go along.”

“Fair enough,” Mani replies. “We’ll get to work.”

At the end of the year, the Committee is ready to announce its findings. At a press conference, a reporter asks, “Prime Minister, of the five issues that the Committee looked at, which one do you think is the most challenging?”

1 Building corporate capabilities and innovation

2 Identifying growth industries and markets

3 Harnessing connectivity

4 Building the city of the future

5 Jobs and skills

 

Working smarter

 

“Improving innovation and business capabilities is going to be our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “It’s no secret that improving productivity is one of the highest economic priorities for us.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“If you exclude the 2009 to 2010 period, which was a little distorted because of the financial crisis, productivity growth between 2011 and 2015 averaged only about 1.3 per cent per year. Now, we’ve said before that somewhere between 2 to 3 per cent would be better, and I think we should strive to get closer to that range. Helping businesses to understand and harness innovation is an important way to getting the productivity growth that we want.

“Being innovation enabled also builds resilience into the system so that our businesses are better equipped to deal with disruptions, whether these are technological disruptions or new business models, or both.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Build big data infrastructure and capabilities, improve public-private research collaborations and provide incentives for corporate innovation

2 Nothing, really

 

Catching stars

 

“Finding and capturing the next big thing is our biggest challenge,” you say without missing a beat. “Singapore’s limitations in terms of size and natural resources are no secret. But we’ve always been able to overcome those hurdles by being strategic about where we direct our limited resources. In the early years, we built up a low-wage manufacturing base in industries like garments. When that was no longer sustainable or desirable, we moved into tech manufacturing like semiconductor components and hard disk drives. By the time that ship sailed for cheaper shores, we had already shifted our economy toward more services and even higher value added manufacturing like pharmaceuticals. It’s time to reassess the playing field.”

A presentation slide magically appears on the screen behind you. You whip out a laser pointer. It’s green.

“The stalwarts of our economies in the 1990s and early 2000s are no longer the growth engines that they once were. Manufacturing’s share of GDP has been in a falling trend since its peak in 2004 as factories moved to our cheaper neighbours. Wholesale and retail trade is in a multi-year slump. But financial and businesses services have been climbing, as has information and communications.

“But the question extends beyond industrial sectors. The global balance of power is also evolving, and China’s rise is the clearest example of that. The world has changed and is changing. We must identify where growth will come from in the next five years and capture that growth so that we as a nation remains competitive.”

When the applause dies down, the reporter asks again: “That’s all great, but can you be more specific about which sector holds the most promise?”

1 Clean technology and environmental solutions

2 Infrastructure and urban solutions

3 Artificial intelligence and robotics

4 Entertainment and new media

 

Plugging in

 

“Harnessing the new connectivity landscape is going to be our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “Our long-held hub strategy will continue to work only if we can remain relevant.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“Singapore’s container port is no longer the busiest in the world. Shanghai now holds that title, and it has been widening its lead over Singapore over the past five years. Our financial markets face strong competition from fast-growing neighbours. As China continues its rise in global trade and affairs, how do we ensure that we continue to offer a bridge between East and West, developed and emerging? As people, goods and information find it easier to cross borders, we need to remain a desirable destination, whether the purpose is to stop here or to pass through.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Pursue cross-boundary hub strategy with multiple strengths in geography, sector and function

2 Nothing, really

 

Home sweeter home

 

“Building the city of the future is going to be our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “We need to ensure that Singapore remains a prime destination for global talent and a place that Singaporeans are proud to call home.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“In 2015, AT Kearney ranked Singapore as the world’s eighth most global city, behind Tokyo and Hong Kong among other Asian cities. But Singapore’s ranking slipped to 14th in terms of future potential. Surely we can do better. Mercer’s quality of life ranking placed Singapore at Number 26 globally. Let’s strive to go higher.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Improve infrastructure, invest in the environment and build social cohesion and inclusiveness

2 Nothing, really

 

It's off to work we go

 

“Jobs and skills are our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “As our economy transforms, mitigating the impact on jobs and incomes should be our biggest priority.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“The mobile economy, cloud technology and the changing nature of work are expected to be the biggest drivers of change in South-east Asia, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum. The regional employment outlook is brightest for transportation and logistics and for service-related jobs. Not surprisingly, manufacturing jobs are seen to be declining. Bottom line, we need to re-skill our workers at the same time that we work on bringing in jobs.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Pursue cross-boundary hub strategy with multiple strengths in geography, sector and function

2 Nothing, really

 

Working smarter

 

“Improving innovation and business capabilities is going to be our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “It’s no secret that improving productivity is one of the highest economic priorities for us.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“If you exclude the 2009 to 2010 period, which was a little distorted because of the financial crisis, productivity growth between 2011 and 2015 averaged only about 1.3 per cent per year. Now, we’ve said before that somewhere between 2 to 3 per cent would be better, and I think we should strive to get closer to that range. Helping businesses to understand and harness innovation is an important way to getting the productivity growth that we want.

“Being innovation enabled also builds resilience into the system so that our businesses are better equipped to deal with disruptions, whether these are technological disruptions or new business models, or both.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Build big data infrastructure and capabilities, improve public-private research collaborations and provide incentives for corporate innovation

2 Nothing, really

 

Catching stars

 

“Finding and capturing the next big thing is our biggest challenge,” you say without missing a beat. “Singapore’s limitations in terms of size and natural resources are no secret. But we’ve always been able to overcome those hurdles by being strategic about where we direct our limited resources. In the early years, we built up a low-wage manufacturing base in industries like garments. When that was no longer sustainable or desirable, we moved into tech manufacturing like semiconductor components and hard disk drives. By the time that ship sailed for cheaper shores, we had already shifted our economy toward more services and even higher value added manufacturing like pharmaceuticals. It’s time to reassess the playing field.”

A presentation slide magically appears on the screen behind you. You whip out a laser pointer. It’s green.

“The stalwarts of our economies in the 1990s and early 2000s are no longer the growth engines that they once were. Manufacturing’s share of GDP has been in a falling trend since its peak in 2004 as factories moved to our cheaper neighbours. Wholesale and retail trade is in a multi-year slump. But financial and businesses services have been climbing, as has information and communications.

“But the question extends beyond industrial sectors. The global balance of power is also evolving, and China’s rise is the clearest example of that. The world has changed and is changing. We must identify where growth will come from in the next five years and capture that growth so that we as a nation remains competitive.”

When the applause dies down, the reporter asks again: “That’s all great, but can you be more specific about which sector holds the most promise?”

1 Clean technology and environmental solutions

2 Infrastructure and urban solutions

3 Artificial intelligence and robotics

4 Entertainment and new media

 

Plugging in

 

“Harnessing the new connectivity landscape is going to be our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “Our long-held hub strategy will continue to work only if we can remain relevant.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“Singapore’s container port is no longer the busiest in the world. Shanghai now holds that title, and it has been widening its lead over Singapore over the past five years. Our financial markets face strong competition from fast-growing neighbours. As China continues its rise in global trade and affairs, how do we ensure that we continue to offer a bridge between East and West, developed and emerging? As people, goods and information find it easier to cross borders, we need to remain a desirable destination, whether the purpose is to stop here or to pass through.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Pursue cross-boundary hub strategy with multiple strengths in geography, sector and function

2 Nothing, really

 

Home sweeter home

 

“Building the city of the future is going to be our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “We need to ensure that Singapore remains a prime destination for global talent and a place that Singaporeans are proud to call home.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“In 2015, AT Kearney ranked Singapore as the world’s eighth most global city, behind Tokyo and Hong Kong among other Asian cities. But Singapore’s ranking slipped to 14th in terms of future potential. Surely we can do better. Mercer’s quality of life ranking placed Singapore at Number 26 globally. Let’s strive to go higher.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Improve infrastructure, invest in the environment and build social cohesion and inclusiveness

2 Nothing, really

 

It's off to work we go

 

“Jobs and skills are our biggest challenge,” you say with unbridled confidence. “As our economy transforms, mitigating the impact on jobs and incomes should be our biggest priority.”

You close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and prepare to unleash some statistics upon the unsuspecting scribe.

“The mobile economy, cloud technology and the changing nature of work are expected to be the biggest drivers of change in South-east Asia, according to a survey by the World Economic Forum. The regional employment outlook is brightest for transportation and logistics and for service-related jobs. Not surprisingly, manufacturing jobs are seen to be declining. Bottom line, we need to re-skill our workers at the same time that we work on bringing in jobs.”

“So what will the government do to address that challenge?” the awestruck reporter asks.

1 Pursue cross-boundary hub strategy with multiple strengths in geography, sector and function

2 Nothing, really

 

Give change a hug

 

“We’re going to have to encourage businesses to embrace change and innovation, and at the same time make it easier for them to take that journey,” you say. “We’ll improve public-private research and development collaborations. We are going to invest in infrastructure and capabilities that will make it easier for everybody to benefit from big data, and we are going to look into incentive structures to give companies that extra boost.

“This is going to be our focus for the next five years. Then we’ll reconvene another Committee to take a fresh set of bearings and chart the next chapter. And it will be glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Five years later, Singapore has begun to see the first signs of change. Research and development agency A-Star is busier than it has ever been, the national data repository is quickly proving its worth and utilisation of the Super Enhanced And Targeted Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme is close to full. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

What, me work?

 

“What? Do something?” you ask. “No, no, haha. No. You misunderstand. The Committee was created simply to learn about the issue and share some of its findings and thoughts. Ask some what-if questions and explore options. It’s not an action plan for the government. It’s more like, oh, I don’t know, like a white paper. Just suggestions and thought experiments. But I certainly hope that people will read these reports and be inspired enough to act on their own, without us having to do anything more. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my afternoon tea.”

Your belief that policy goals can be achieved simply by putting some thoughts into a report and scattering that report into the wind is, quite honestly, air-headed.

The rest of your short tenure as Prime Minister follows the same pattern. An innovative plan to narrow the income gap is distributed as flyers in National Day goodie bags, but most people throw them out along with the other “useless” coupons. A groundbreaking environmental sustainability strategy is offered as a free e-book to anyone who would read it, which turn outs to be just 68 people.

But by all means, go have your afternoon tea instead. Your biggest achievement in office will be eating a slice of kueh lapis, one layer at a time, without breaking a single layer. There is little surprise when you lose the next election.

1 Start again!

2 All done?

 

The SEWER age

 

“Clean technology and environmental solutions is the way to go,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “Climate change is a global and growing problem. About 11 per cent of the global population had no access to drinking water in 2012, and droughts in areas like California are raising demand for sustainable water solutions. Electric vehicles and autonomous and driverless transportation are becoming reality. Singapore should capture these opportunities of the future.

“We will call the new initiative Singapore Environment, Water, Energy and Resources, or SEWER.”

 

Five years later, Singapore has caught the first whiff of change. Water solutions companies have flocked to Singapore, attracted by tax credits, local expertise and connectivity. The country has earned a reputation as a prime location for test-bedding cutting-edge transport solutions. It is often reported in the press about how you have brought in the SEWER age. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Go with the CROWDS

 

“Infrastructure and urban solutions is the way to go,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “The growing middle class is the next big demographic trend, with a World Bank report predicting that that middle class in low- and middle-income countries will grow more than fivefold between 2005 and 2030, to almost 2 billion people. Singapore has a wealth of experience in successful city planning, and we should export this expertise to the rest of the world. We are already building world-class oil rigs. It would seem logical to also build world-class infrastructure and cities.

“We will call the new initiative Capturing the Rise Of Worldwide Demographics from Singapore, or CROWDS.”

 

Five years later, Singapore becoming a bustling centre for large-scale engineering companies. Temasek-linked company Ascendas-Singbridge is becoming a global leader in the business of urban planning and solutions, and consultancies in the field are attracted to the global talent that can be found in Singapore. Your CROWDS strategy has turned out to be a big draw. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Follow me if you want to future

 

“Artificial intelligence and robotics is the way to go,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “Significant advances are being made in the area of machine learning, and businesses are increasingly turning to automation to increase productivity. A 2015 PWC report cited a survey that found 64 per cent of chief executives believe that robots can increase their revenues. The disruption can either mean job displacement or new opportunities. We need to make sure that we get the more desirable outcome.

“We will call the new initiative Technology Enabled Robotics, Machine Intelligence Networks and Autonomous Test-bedding and Operational Research, or TERMINATOR.”

 

Five years later, Singapore is becoming a global hub for artificial intelligence and robotics research. Generous tax incentives, a doubling of the computer science departments at the local universities and a public-private test-bedding initiative have paid off with a record number of new businesses start-ups and patents. Feedback is so positive that plans have already been made to make sure that even after initial funding runs out, the TERMINATOR programme will be back. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Fast ASLEEP

 

“Entertainment and new media,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “Augmented and virtual reality are creating new ways to consume content. The growth of big data is increasing demand for data visualisation expertise. In terms of entertainment content, our homegrown talent is second to none: https://youtu.be/ksw2UqTyhhc

“We will call the new initiative Augmented Spaces and Laboratories Ecosystem for Entertainment Production, or ASLEEP.”

 

Five years later, Singapore is earning a budding reputation as a creative leader. Generous tax incentives have attracted global players to set up shop in Singapore, while beefed up tertiary education programmes supply homegrown talent. World-leading data infrastructure has also built Singapore into a global hub for big data-related businesses. ASLEEP is a dream come true. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Hub everything!

 

“We’re going to pursue a cross-boundary approach to the hub strategy, meaning that we will be a hub not just in terms of geography or industries, but also in terms of functions, like data management, talent, or business transactions. We can’t predict where the next big thing is going to come from, but if we can build multiple strengths, that will help us to remain lovelient and adaptable. Where there are gaps, we will allocate resources. Other places might compete with us on narrower grounds, like maybe access to China or access to a particular industrial sector, but few will be able to compete with us in terms of breadth.

“This is going to be our focus for the next five years. Then we’ll reconvene another Committee to take a fresh set of bearings and chart the next chapter. And it will be glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Five years later, Singapore has begun to see the first signs of change. Foreign direct investment is growing as businesses react to measures aimed at making it easier to operate out of Singapore. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Love conquers all

 

“We must continue to build a society that accepts different paths to happiness and success, even if that path is unorthodox. We will allocate more resources to improve our infrastructure, including our transport network and our health system, to ensure that they add to our shared happiness, not hinder it. We will continue to build social cohesion across all levels, be it race, religion, age, income level or nationality. We will invest in our environment to make sure that we have a sustainable city for our children and grandchildren.

“This is going to be our focus for the next five years. Then we’ll reconvene another Committee to take a fresh set of bearings and chart the next chapter. And it will be glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Five years later, Singapore has begun to see the first signs of change. The rail network has become a source of pride, not punchlines. Further improvements to the park network and a new series of regular community events are bringing people out of their homes. Singapore is moving up the global rankings, and good press begets more good press. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Learn on me

 

“We will allocate more resources to re-skilling our workforce and to training a future workforce to enable as many people as we can to take advantage of the new economy. While we will try to help everyone to adapt, we will also look into strengthening our support structure for the lower income groups, and try to narrow income inequality. We will also make further refinements to our foreign worker policies to ensure that businesses can get the talent that they need, but that Singaporeans continue to get priority in hiring decisions and that any inflows of foreign talent are sustainable.

“This is going to be our focus for the next five years. Then we’ll reconvene another Committee to take a fresh set of bearings and chart the next chapter. And it will be glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Five years later, Singapore has begun to see the first signs of change. The new economy has exacted a cost on some segments of the labour population, but overall employment remains high and incomes have kept up. There is, however, some reluctance about taking on longer-term projects and commitments because of uncertainty over the economy’s strategic direction beyond the original five-year plan. Perhaps that is something that the next committee can address.

Hope you had fun!

 

Give change a hug

 

“We’re going to have to encourage businesses to embrace change and innovation, and at the same time make it easier for them to take that journey,” you say. “We’ll improve public-private research and development collaborations. We are going to invest in infrastructure and capabilities that will make it easier for everybody to benefit from big data, and we are going to look into incentive structures to give companies that extra boost.

“This is going to be our focus for the next 10 years. We’ll tweak the plan as we go along, but over the long-term our focus is clear, and our ambitions are glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Ten years later, Singapore is in the midst of change. Research and development agency A-Star is busier than it has ever been, the national data repository is quickly proving its worth and utilisation of the Super Enhanced And Targeted Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme is close to full. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

The SEWER age

 

“Clean technology and environmental solutions is the way to go,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “Climate change city global and growing problem. About 11 per cent of the global population had no access to drinking water in 2012, and droughts in areas like California are raising demand for sustainable water solutions. Electric vehicles and autonomous and driverless transportation are becoming reality. Singapore should capture these opportunities of the future.

“We will call the new initiative Singapore Environment, Water, Energy and Resources, or SEWER.”

 

Ten years later, Singapore is knee-deep in change. Water solutions companies have flocked to Singapore, attracted by tax credits, local expertise and connectivity. The country has earned a reputation as a prime location for test-bedding cutting-edge transport solutions. It is often reported in the press about how you have brought in the SEWER age. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Go with the CROWDS

 

“Infrastructure and urban solutions is the way to go,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “The growing middle class is the next big demographic trend, with a World Bank report predicting that that middle class in low- and middle-income countries will grow more than fivefold between 2005 and 2030, to almost 2 billion people. Singapore has a wealth of experience in successful city planning, and we should export this expertise to the rest of the world. We are already building world-class oil rigs. It would seem logical to also build world-class infrastructure and cities.

“We will call the new initiative Capturing the Rise Of Worldwide Demographics from Singapore, or CROWDS.”

 

Ten years later, Singapore has become a bustling centre for large-scale engineering companies. Temasek-linked company Ascendas-Singbridge is becoming a global leader in the business of urban planning and solutions, and consultancies in the field are attracted to the global talent that can be found in Singapore. Your CROWDS strategy has turned out to be a big draw. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Follow me if you want to future

 

“Artificial intelligence and robotics is the way to go,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “Significant advances are being made in the area of machine learning, and businesses are increasingly turning to automation to increase productivity. A 2015 PWC report cited a survey that found 64 per cent of chief executives believe that robots can increase their revenues. The disruption can either mean job displacement or new opportunities. We need to make sure that we get the more desirable outcome.

“We will call the new initiative Technology Enabled Robotics, Machine Intelligence Networks and Autonomous Test-bedding and Operational Research, or TERMINATOR.”

 

Ten years later, Singapore has become a global hub for artificial intelligence and robotics research. Generous tax incentives, a doubling of the computer science departments at the local universities and a public-private test-bedding initiative have paid off with a record number of new businesses start-ups and patents. Feedback is so positive that plans have already been made to make sure that even after initial funding runs out, the TERMINATOR programme will be back. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Fast ASLEEP

 

“Entertainment and new media,” you say with the certainty of an infomercial pitchman. “Augmented and virtual reality are creating new ways to consume content. The growth of big data is increasing demand for data visualisation expertise. In terms of entertainment content, our homegrown talent is second to none: https://youtu.be/ksw2UqTyhhc

“We will call the new initiative Augmented Spaces and Laboratories Ecosystem for Entertainment Production, or ASLEEP.”

 

Ten years later, Singapore has earned a reputation as a creative leader. Generous tax incentives have attracted global players to set up shop in Singapore, while beefed up tertiary education programmes supply homegrown talent. World-leading data infrastructure has also built Singapore into a global hub for big data-related businesses. ASLEEP is a dream come true. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Hub everything!

 

“We’re going to pursue a cross-boundary approach to the hub strategy,cameraning that we will be a hub not just in terms of geography or industries, but also in terms of functions, like data management, talent, or business transactions. We can’t predict where the next big thing is going to come from, but if we can build multiple strengths, that will help us to remain resilient and adaptable. Where there are gaps, we will allocate resources. Other places might compete with us on narrower grounds, like maybe access to China or access to a particular industrial sector, but few will be able to compete with us in terms of breadth.

“This is going to be our focus for the next 10 years. We’ll tweak the plan as we go along, but over the long-term our focus is clear, and our ambitions are glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Ten years later, Singapore is bustling with change. Foreign direct investment is growing as businesses react to measures aimed at making it easier to operate out of Singapore. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Love conquers all

 

“We must continue to build a society that accepts different paths to happiness and success, even if that path is unorthodox. We will allocate more resources to improve our infrastructure, including our transport network and our health system, to ensure that they add to our shared happiness, not hinder it. We will continue to build social cohesion across all levels, be it race, religion, age, income level or nationality. We will invest in our environment to make sure that we have a sustainable city for our children and grandchildren.

“This is going to be our focus for the next 10 years. We’ll tweak the plan as we go along, but over the long-term our focus is clear, and our ambitions are glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Ten years later, Singapore is rolling in change. The rail network has become a source of pride, not punchlines. Further improvements to the park network and a new series of regular community events are bringing people out of their homes. Singapore is moving up the global rankings, and good press begets more good press. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Learn on me

 

“We will allocate more resources to re-skilling our workforce and to training a future workforce to enable as many people as we can to take advantage of the new economy. While we will try to help everyone to adapt, we will also look into strengthening our support structure for the lower income groups, and try to narrow income inequality. We will also make further refinements to our foreign worker policies to ensure that businesses can get the talent that they need, but that Singaporeans continue to get priority in hiring decisions and that any inflows of foreign talent are sustainable.

“This is going to be our focus for the next 10 years. We’ll tweak the plan as we go along, but over the long-term our focus is clear, and our ambitions are glorious,” you say to overwhelming applause.

 

Ten years later, Singapore is in the midst of change. The new economy has exacted a cost on some segments of the labour population, but overall employment remains high and incomes have kept up. Some of the earlier bets turned out to be wrong, but the overall vision remains true. Some of the seeds that were planted at the beginning have begun to bear fruit in ways that can only be achieved through a long-term strategy.

Hope you had fun!

 

Play on!

 

Predicting what the future will be is never easy, and this project is not meant to be a forecasting tool. Any predictive elements are intended merely to highlight arguments and issues related to the subject matter. The potential future growth industries and sectors mentioned in the project are examples that have been mentioned by others, but none of them have been officially sanctioned by the Committee for the Future Economy as at press time. The names and the underlying plot are completely made up, but the statistics are all real. We hope you had fun and learned something.

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