SINGAPORE (Aug 6): There was a time when people said that Singapore won’t make it, but we did. So go the lyrics of the old National Day favourite, and the narrative of how the city state rose from a backwater to become the glittering metropolis it is today.

Singapore’s pioneering leaders were single-mindedly focused on the country’s survival and all the policies at the time were geared for that purpose. The government surpassed itself and the country achieved first-world economy status in a matter of decades. But that now presents a new set of problems which, coupled with the rapid pace of change and disruption in this age, will not be so easily overcome.

“In the early days, you kind of always knew what the next thing was going to be that you could take advantage of. Today, in 2018 and looking ahead, do we really know what the next thing is?” says Adrian Kuah, senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. “Perhaps the next thing is not something that’s going to happen to us, but something that we create. How do we give our [people] the tools to create the next big thing?”

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