Siau Ming En
February 11, 2017
SINGAPORE — The report put out by the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) on Thursday (Feb 9) has been criticised by members of the Opposition, who called it lacking in bold and aggressive measures to address the problems Singapore faces.
In a media release, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan said the CFE report was “long on rhetoric but woefully lacking in bold and aggressive measures to tackle the serious problems that confront Singapore”. It is “rehash of ideas and strategies” that have been tried but failed by predecessors such as the Economic Strategies Committee (ESC) report in 2010 and the Economic Review Committee (ERC) report in 2003, he added.
The report, released after a year of work by the committee, highlighted seven key strategies for the Government, Singaporeans and firms to pursue to keep the country plugged into the world, and build the capabilities of its people and organisations.
They are: The need to deepen and diversify international connections; acquire and utilise deep skills; strengthen enterprise capabilities to innovate and scale up; build strong digital capabilities; develop a vibrant and connected city of opportunity; develop and implement Industry Transformation Maps; and partner each other to enable growth and innovation.
Dr Chee cited similarities with recommendations in the ESC and ERC reports, such as the focus on innovation for economic growth and on developing workers.
“It is disappointing that the report did not make the necessary recommendations that will genuinely transform the Singapore economy into a productive and innovative one,” he said.
The party suggested that the Government stop its direct participation in the domestic sector of the economy through the government-linked companies.
[IOW, stop making money.]
There must also be a comprehensive reform of the exam-oriented education system to prepare students for a future where critical thinking and a creative attitude are needed, he added.
He also said the political scene and mass media have to be freed up as the present situation stifles debate, creativity and the development of questioning minds.
[IOW, give opposition more room. How... surprising! Not.]
People’s Power Party chief Goh Meng Seng said that amid calls for the country to deepen global links, there needs to be more dialogue and discussion before the authorities ink any free-trade agreements.
[Wow. Like we need to protect our small little market? Like we have suffered great hardship from other trade agreements and pacts?]
Noting that such free-trade agreements cover many issues, Singaporeans would be concerned about how this affects their jobs, said Mr Goh. “As far as Singapore is concerned, we cannot run away from globalisation. That’s granted because we are small and we have to depend on a lot of trade... But what we want is more protection for our labour, our local Singaporean jobs, especially the PMETs,” he added.
Singaporeans First secretary-general Tan Jee Say noted that the CFE report is based on an economic and security model that has “outlived its relevance”.
Instead of a model that is tied to the US military presence and MNCs, Singapore needs to come to terms with a rising China in the areas of security and investments, he said.
“We must build our own timber by developing our own companies instead of focusing on MNCs and move into the regional economy, which I have set out in my 2011 $60 billion National Regeneration Plan,” he added.
Other opposition parties, including the Workers’ Party, could not be reached by press time.