tl;dr: Talking about the problems that Singapore faces: housing bubble, too many foreigners, stressful environment,… a friend of mine said they had no choice. Here I point out the common cause of all these problems: Singapore’s lack of self-sustainability. To improve Singapore’s self-sustainability, it is up to the creative Singaporeans to utilize all the newly available technologies.

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Singapore used to be a crowded port city, situated on the trading route between China and the outside world. When China closed down exportation, the trading route ceased to exist, and Singapore became a fishing village, before being awaken centuries later, under the influence of Western empires and their trading activities.
It is therefore reasonable that the government and Singaporeans in general are worried about their long-term existence. Added to this problem is the huge number of foreigners working, living, and make a home out of Singapore. In the short term, they take up space and jobs. In the long term, they remind Singaporeans how fragile their society is, like the saying “easy come, easy go”.
The problem about long-term existence, national identity, and foreign influx all have the same solution: make Singapore more self-sustainable.
The pillars of Singapore economies all depend on multinational corporates: oil, finance, pharmacy… Manufacturing is leaving Singapore for cheaper labours. Singapore as a people would therefore have to deal with those big players, while having few cards on hand: little land, little resource.

HOW CAN SINGAPORE BECOME SELF-SUSTAINABLE?
No, it cannot. Singapore itself is already a miracle. That is, Lee Kwan Yew’s strategy for Singapore has worked much better than expected, and few would have been able to do better. In 1965, Singapore consists of a few traders and factory owners, with plenty of lowly skilled workers. With this demography, the solution taken was optimal: mass education, investing in infrastructure, foreign investment and exportation.
Fast forward to 2012, we have a much different demography. Young Singaporeans are well educated. Many take up scholarships to study abroad. What can they do now that couldn’t have been done before?
1. Increase the automation to decrease the dependence on foreign low-skill labours: construction (imagine a HDB being built in 10 days), manufacturing (imagine 3D printing), transportation (imagine Google car)…
2. Export ideas (imagine Android & iPhone apps, arts & designs…, thanks to the Internet)
3. Better technologies for water desalination, urban farming, renewable energy, smart grid… that individuals can participate, reducing the need for big government & MNCs.
4. Web technologies for peer-to-peer businesses such as craiglists, Airbnb, bitcoin (p2p banking)… to enable more entrepreneurship.
5. A social net, so that those unfortunate can have a rest and look for better ways they can contribute to the society.

Of course I’m joking. This is 2012, not 2120. While many of these technologies are available, there are many obstacles bringing them to Singapore. My suggestion? No suggestion. It is up to us individuals to bring the best out of ourselves, and make creative solutions out of what’s available. Don’t count on the government. I said, DON’T COUNT ON THE GOVERNMENT.

Cheers,
Phong

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