Singapore...better known for its capability to provide quality infrastructure services more efficiently as an “efficient business city,”6 has accomplished nothing more than sheer efficiency and competence. Singapore owes its great economic success story to the sharp and foresighted leadership of its former minister mentor, Lee Kuan Yew.
The former prime minister of Singapore said, “We learned from the failed policies of countries such as India, Pakistan, Ghana, and Nigeria. Many new nations believed that the way to prosperity was state planning of the economy with socialist states being seen as models. But the third-world leaders who had demolished old regimes did not take into account that building a new order demanded different capabilities. So my strategy was to turn Singapore, a third-world island, into a first-class oasis, by establishing up-to-date facilities in communications and transportation.”7
Lee Kuan Yew’s brilliant strategy paid off handsomely when Singapore became a first-world country within a short period of time with its unprecedented GDP of 12.7 percent from 1965 to 1973. If any country has the sheer perseverance to push itself out of the doldrums of global economic tsunamis, it would be Singapore. It should be proud to have remained resilient despite the global recession that hit in the early 1970s with the collapse of oil prices, and then the second global oil crisis in the late 1970s. Singapore escaped unscathed.
Since then, Singapore’s economic performance has been a stellar one—that is putting it mildly. To enhance its competitive advantage, the city-state embarked on a new strategy in innovation that took off in 2000. Emphasis has been on applied and technological innovations in the manufacturing sector, entrepreneurial opportunities in the services sector, and the “creative industries” specifically in the areas of developing individual creativity, skills, and talent.
Its focus has now borne fruits as evidenced by the latest economic report released by the Singapore government. In the second quarter of 2007, its GDP expanded by 8.6 percent year-on-year as compared to 6.4 percent in the previous quarter. That means its economy grew by 7.6 percent in the first 6 months of 2007, with sectors such as financial services that grew by 17 percent in the second quarter as compared to 14 percent in the first quarter, and construction, which also registered double-digit growth.
It looks like nothing can slow Singapore down. It will certainly not rest on its laurels. Its quest to transform its economy into an Asian giant will continue to see heavy diversified investments in various wide-ranging industries by the Singapore government. Further targeted drive is evident in the tourism, biotechnology, multimedia, retail and leisure, and medical technology industries that will definitely spearhead its human capital investment.
As an illustration, two integrated resorts expected to generate 35,000 jobs are ready to boost Singapore’s economy.8 The Marina Bay Sands, a business-focused integrated resort (IR) with extensive convention facilities is scheduled to open in 2009. The second IR, Resorts World at Sentosa Island, is expected to open in 2011. Singapore will also host global events such as the world’s first Formula One night race and the world’s first Youth Olympics Games. Singapore has become yet another talent hub with unmatched credentials and perks for skills in Asia.