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Good governance and leadership 'critical ingredient' for Singapore to navigate future challenges: Heng Swee Keat

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Good governance and leadership in both the private and public sectors will be key to helping Singapore navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable future, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

GOOD governance and leadership in both the private and public sectors will be key to helping Singapore navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable future, said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Leaders must maintain a high level of trust and communicate their plans openly.

"The consequences if we fail to do so are severe - loss of trust, a divided people, a society that turns inwards from the world and loses its ability to adapt and innovate," said the minister, who was speaking at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Tuesday at the Ritz-Carlton.

The minister highlighted three critical ingredients to help Singapore adapt to an increasingly complex, multi-faceted and fast-changing future. These were: clarity of values, good governance and leadership, as well as high levels of social and cross-cultural capital.

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First, Singapore must remain focused on its central aim of building a fair and just society.

"A society that is adaptable and resilient, where we care for and trust in one another, and where we move forward together, whatever our starting points, whatever the future change we are navigating," said Mr Heng.

Next, the country needs good governance and good leadership at all levels, whether in the private, public or people sectors.

"We need to maintain a high level of trust, and do so by communicating our considerations, our challenges and our plans frankly and honestly," said Mr Heng.

He pointed to cautionary examples in some developed countries, where there has been a backlash against globalisation and surge in support for extremist populist parties "as citizens feel that elites in society have creamed off their fair share of the fruits of growth".

Third, to provide the foundation for good governance, Singapore needs to build a high level of social and cross-cultural capital, said Mr Heng.

This involves the trust that the public has, in its leaders, as well as in each other.

It also extends beyond building trust within Singapore.

"As a small nation, we have thrived on being an open and constructive player on the international stage," said the minister. "We must continue to stay open, and build the cross-cultural social capital and relationships that will allow us to harness the benefits of globalisation."

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