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Singapore enters a new golden age

Jan 10, 2015

Ahead of celebrations to mark fifty years of independence later this year, the city-state looks back on how successfully and quickly this former British colonial post progressed into one of the world’s most dynamic financial centers and most stable economies.

Beyond its dominance in finance and trade, Singapore is building a reputation as a leading center of business services, education, and green technology, and information technology, thanks to a growing community of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

“We have come a long way since independence in 1965. We first focused on education, technology, trade, and the rule of law. This made Singapore into the economically vibrant and liveable international hub that it is today. So far, this has helped us deal with our land and resource constraints. Even as Singapore transformed, so has the world around us, which has created new challenges and opportunities,” said Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.

Amid the robust economic growth in the country, Singapore hopes to play a dominant role in the region as the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations moves towards economic integration.

“As a founding member of ASEAN, Singapore places great importance on the grouping. We believe it is important to maintain ASEAN’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture, which should be open, inclusive and outward-looking so that ASEAN can serve as a neutral platform for major powers to engage one another and the region,” Shanmugam also said.

Reflecting the significance of Singapore on the global economy, business organizations in the country are among the oldest in the Asia and boast an impressive roster of members, which include the world’s largest companies.

The Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) was established in 1837 and is the longest serving chamber of commerce in the region. It represents some of the world’s largest international corporations and leading companies in Singapore,” recalled SICC Executive Director Victor Mills.

“Consistent engagement with policy and decision makers gives our members a competitive advantage in today’s ever evolving economy. Singapore continues to offer many attractive opportunities for business both in the republic itself and as a very effective gateway to the region. Our roots in Singapore are as deep as our commitment both to the country and to the businesses which sustain it,” Mills also said.

Singapore’s education sector has also raised the qualifications of its graduates by facilitating partnerships between local institutions and foreign universities, a development that also further internationalized the city-state’s future workforce. So, it is no surprise that many global businesses look to Singapore’s talent pool for their employees.

“Research has to be both interdisciplinary and international today, as many fundamental issues the world is facing require solutions that come from different perspectives and specialties,” said Professor Bertil Andersson, President of Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore).

“NTU itself is a microcosm of the world with students, professors and staff representing 100 nationalities. We collaborate not just across disciplines but with other top academic, industry and research partners,” he added.

NTU has more than 400 international partnerships. For example, it has a joint medical school set up with Imperial College London and its premium Renaissance Engineering Program offers students a choice to spend a year at University of California, Berkeley or Imperial College London, with internships at Silicon Valley or in Europe.

Through partnerships with industry giants such as Lockheed Martin, BMW and Rolls- Royce, the university translates its research into benefits for the world.

By interacting with people of different backgrounds and cultures on campus and overseas, NTU students, faculty and researchers benefit immensely from being exposed to different approaches and world views.

A young, research-intensive university on a rapid global rise, NTU Singapore has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in Medicine, Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences.

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Singapore 2015 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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