Singapore’s next frontier

Excerpts (page 3) :

  • So where is the “new normal” headed one year after the wake-up call?
  • The PAP appears to be responding aggressively. It talks of a “Singaporeans First” policy in employment and is cutting back on foreign workers.
  • A commission to review government pay was promptly set up, and top officials will have their pay slashed by about 35 percent. (Singapore’s prime minister will still earn about $1.75 million and ministers $800,000). In addition, half their bonuses will be linked not just to GDP growth but to growth in median income and the incomes of the lowest quintile of earners. (Only in Singapore do the technocrats respond with such tailored, business-like incentives, which a wonk like me can’t help but admire).
  • The government is pushing a productivity improvement agenda and goading business to share the fruits of these gains with workers, the only way to sustainably raise pay.
  • A new subway line will be built or extended every year for the next seven years.
  • There’s more, but you get the idea. If Prime Minister Lee went into the last election with an apology, his actions afterward have been a long way of saying “we heard you.” The question is whether it will seem like enough.
  •  “If you have one of the best-educated middle classes in the world,” says Kishore Mahbubani, a former diplomat who’s now dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, “the terms of engagement are going to change.”
  • I’m rooting for Singapore. Every nation is work in progress. This mighty island country has already taught the world a lot. It has much to teach – and to learn – still.

Matt Miller, a co-host of public radio’s “Left, Right & Center,” writes a weekly online column for The Post.
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Singapore’s next frontier

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