We should not assume that the next 50 years will be the same as the last 50, where we had a secure and stable economic order underpinning our peace and prosperity, which allowed us to progress together through interdependence, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said in his opening address to students at the Pre-University Seminar 2022.
Will there be an international rule of law for small states to exist?
Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the reasons it has used to justify the use of force has raised existential questions for smaller states, said Minister Chan. “Will there still be an international rule of law to allow smaller states to exist?”
Can states rely on international rules for a fair trading order?
Turning inwards and protectionist!
To secure national interests, some countries have turned to protectionist actions, inward-looking behaviour, and beggar-thy-neighbour policies, Mr Chan said.
Economic resilience comes from greater connectivity, not isolation.
“Ironically, economic resilience will come from greater connectivity and diversity rather than isolation and exclusivity.”
“We must therefore strengthen our social fabric to safeguard against such divisive forces.”
Seizing the opportunities
The next lap of digital transformation and advances in artificial intelligence have presented Singapore with ‘significant opportunities that we can swiftly seize’.
“If Singapore does this well, it will unshackle Singapore from the tyranny of geography, allow us to transcend our limitations of size, to connect with the world as our hinterland and markets in new ways; and allow us to compete on the basis of our speed of evolution, rather than our relative resource endowment,” he said.