“Globalisation has been a blessing for Singapore’s development. ” The world we live in today is characterised by globalised markets and a merciless pace of change. Powered by relentless technological advances, the forces of globalization have undoubtedly driven the ever-accelerating expansion in economic activity and capital flows, even opening previously closed sectors and countries. The economies of countries are becoming increasingly integrated with one another. Indeed, living in today’s globalised era, no country has been untouched by the expanding and influential force of globalization.
Singapore is no exception, as evidenced by her miraculous evolution from a mere fishing village in the past to the cosmopolitan and vibrant metropolis today——-all thanks to globalization. Without the global market, it is difficult to imagine how Singapore’s substantially export-orientated economy would be able to function. Globalization is definitely a blessing for Singapore’s development. The city-state has achieved spectacular results when it comes to its social infrastructure, as well as economic prosperity.
While economic activity took the most simplistic form of entrepot trade previously, globalization has enhanced the interconnectedness of Singapore’s industries. Due to Singapore’s embrace of free trade, she is now more economically developed. With her free market economy and excellent international trading links, it is no wonder that Singapore is ranked the 5th highest GDP per capita in the world. In fact, Singapore has been consistently acknowledged as a global business hub.
In the 2008-2009 Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum, Singapore was named the most competitive economy in Asia. Singapore’s willingness to open up to the world market enabled her to be categorized as one of the four Asian Tigers. Furthermore, her economy has been boosted greatly with the increase in foreign investments and the setting up of enterprises, sustaining an average GDP growth of 10% within the last 10 years. The monthly income of the average Singaporean household also rose from $6,300 in 2007 to $7,090 in 2008.
The government’s open-mindedness to free trade and trade agreements is thus the key to Singapore’s successful economic competitiveness in today’s globalised world. It is in the global market that Singapore finds opportunities to sell her goods and expertise. Local entrepreneurs and companies can attract foreign investments, carving out a niche in the international markets. Take Mr Sim Wong Hoo as an example. His Creative sound blaster products have made an imprint in markets worldwide. Undeniably, globalization has greatly strengthened Singapore’s economic standing on the global level.
While these results may be satisfactory in other countries, it appears all the more impressive given Singapore’s unique context. Being a tiny city-state with no viable natural resources, Singapore had to be plugged into the global economy in order to survive. She cannot afford to hide behind protectionist measures or depend solely on her domestic economy if she is to continue the level of prosperity that she currently enjoys today. Hence, globalization is essential for fuelling Singapore’s economic progress.
Globalization also aids Singapore’s political development. More friendly bilateral relations are forged with countries via trade agreements and military alliances. Well aware that no man is an island, Singapore is an active member of international organizations such as United Nations and ASEAN for decades, ensuring she has an influential voice in political decisions potentially affecting the city-state. Another example would be the Korean-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (KSFTA) which removed tariffs on most goods between Singapore and South Korea.
This benefits both countries economically and boosts Singapore’s political ties. Survival in today’s globalised world requires commitment to international relations and engagement in diplomatic ties. Thus, Singapore’s Prime Minister frequently visits the dignitaries of countries such as USA and Brunei to formulate and cement harmonious partnerships, fostering an understanding which acts as a solid foundation for goodwill and future international support. Another benefit is the improved standard of living in Singapore.
HDB flats —-even condominiums—– have replaced the dilapidated slums that used to be commonplace when Singapore was merely a fishing village. With the improvement in the transportation system, MRT stations and the Port of Singapore, including the Circle Line, were established, leading to an increased convenience in travelling. Even the Singapore Changi Airport has been recognised by the global cargo industry as the Best Airport in Asia. It is no wonder that Singapore emerged as Asia’s best location to live, work and play in the Mercer 2008 Quality of Living survey.
Yet, there are Singaporeans who argue that globalization has hindered their country’s development, placing doubts on whether their fellow Singaporeans will still remain rooted to their nation after migrating to other countries. Whilst Singaporeans venture for jobs overseas, foreigners will also migrate to work in Singapore, some of whom have decided to become Permanent Residents (PRs). With these foreigners bringing their own cultures and values, together with the exodus of local Singaporeans, social cohesion may be adversely affected.
Singaporeans have also expressed concern over the issue of a sense of national identity. The issue of the rootedness to Singapore was consequently raised during the Prime Minister’s National Day Rally Speech in 2006, where the government reminded citizens that more efforts need to be made to “maintain strong links” with Singaporeans based abroad. Nevertheless, while this may potentially impede Singapore’s social development, I believe many Singaporeans are patriotic to their homeland in essence, also invariably looking forward to the annual National Day Parade.
For instance, more than 10,000 photographs were received for the “Singapore My Home” 2009 photographic competition, with 13,000 Facebook fans penning their wishes and aspirations for Singapore’s future. This definitely proves heartening, showing that there are in fact Singaporeans who remain attached to their nation. More Singaporeans ought to further entrench their rootedness to Singapore. A sense of pride to the remarkable achievements Singapore has made must be imbued in the hearts of citizens.
Furthermore, true-blue Singaporeans should not view foreign talents as competition. Foreign expertise can be gained through the collaboration with these foreign immigrants. For instance, MNCs in Singapore such as JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank often share their international expertise with local employees. Not only will this enable both the local people and foreigners to live harmoniously (thus aiding Singapore’s social development), the Singaporean workforce can be trained to be competitive and knowledgeable.
Ultimately, it should and must be noted that Singapore is innately vulnerable as a nation-state which was ousted from Malaysia only a few decades ago. As Vivian Balakrishnan (minister for community development, youth and sports) once mentioned, “The choice of a closed society and closed economy was lost the moment we got kicked out of Malaysia”, globalization is not a choice in Singapore, but a necessity. With her only dependence on the people as a natural resource, Singapore’s survival as a nation demands that she has to embrace globalization wholeheartedly and maximize the opportunities it brings.
Regardless of any undesirable drawbacks globalisation has brought onto society, we must recognize that they are unavoidable. Isolation from the outside world and protectionism cannot be the response to globalization. At the end of the day, the undeniable fact remains that globalization has in various ways enabled Singapore to catapult from third world to first world status, extricating citizens from their initially impoverished state back in the 1960s. Therefore, I hold that globalization has and will always be a blessing to Singapore’s development.