TL;DR: Nobody knows what 2030 is going to look like, what technologies we’re going to have, what unexpected events are going to change the world, and what our lifestyle arrangements are going to be like. So relax a bit lah. Or focus on more pressing concerns. We’ve already communicated our frustrations with the rate of immigration and the nature of immigration policies.
The discussion is interesting in the sense that all discussions are interesting (we get to see where people stand, what their thoughts and perspectives are, what we value, etc) but it isn’t particularly valuable in of itself, methinks. We could get just as much value discussing something more immediate and pressing.
In the 70s and maybe 80s, we assumed that the Cold War would be the way the world was- US and Russia dominating the world. Or something like that. In 1991, the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union collapsed. The world was changed forever.
In 1997, the Internet showed up. Telephones and faxes were going to face some serious competition. Business, banking, personal information, socializing… everything would be shaken up. The world would be changed forever.
In 2001, terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center, an attack on American soil. The world is changed forever again. Security protocols get ramped up, imposing costs on everybody (Terrorists win!). Thousands of additional people die in road accidents because they chose to drive instead of taking planes.
Something struck me when I was looking up for footage of 9/11 on YouTube- most of it wasn’t all that good. Nothing is in HD. HD only really happened on YouTube around 2008.
YouTube ITSELF only showed up in 2005. I was still in secondary school then. It was still a relatively lecheh process for teenagers to send each other pictures of their private parts. “Tammy NYP” was a big “shock” in early 2006.
I went to JC in 2007, during which time YouTube was only just beginning to get popular. If you’re in JC now, I’d advise you to skip all lectures and just watch them on YouTube- if your teachers aren’t advising you to do that already. There are lecturers better than your teachers out there, you can watch these lectures on the way to school, you can pause or rewind if you lose track.
There were videos of 9/11, but not that many, because people were using their handheld cameras. It was only in 2007 that the iPhone hit. (I still don’t have a smartphone, lol).
Around this time, Facebook happened. Pokes and super-pokes and mafia wars. Wikipedia (which was founded in 2001) started getting legit as a go-to source for information. We become exceedingly comfortable with the idea of “just Google it” to find any information we might possibly need.
I bought a wireless mouse with my laptop yesterday. It uses a tiny USB device that can fit in the body of the mouse itself (underside), and it can run on pretty much any surface at any reasonable distance. I remember using my friend’s wireless mouse in 2002- it used a clunky infra-red device and it often went awry. Still, it was the coolest thing ever. We take it completely for granted now.
In 2008, a black guy got elected President of the USA.
I don’t have a smartphone yet, but I feel awfully left out of a lot of conversations because I don’t have Whatsapp. Technology has that effect. When fax machines first came out, they were kind of like a novelty. Only a few geeks had them. Then eventually they hit a tipping point and everybody had to have them, or you were left out. Same for Facebook. Same for Whatsapp.
I know, I know, you’re thinking- what on earth are you going on about, rambling like an idiot? Is this post about technology, or about Singapore’s future?
The point I’m trying to make is, nobody has any idea what the world is going to look like even 5, 10 years from now. Last time we said “stop at 2″. Then now we’re trying to reverse that. Maybe the population will go up. Maybe it will go down. Maybe we will have more foreigners. Maybe we won’t. (Just kidding. We obviously will.)
HERE IS MY FUNDAMENTAL POINT: When imagining 6.9 people in 2030, let’s not forget that we cannot imagine 2030.
What sort of new technologies will we have? What will Changi and Jurong look like? How many Singaporeans will choose to live in JB? We already have almost a hundred thousand Singaporeans there. Over time, with money and value pouring into our tiny state, it’s going to spill over wherever it can.
What will the rest of ASEAN look like? How will Cambodia and Thailand be doing? Myanmar? Laos?
So… stop stressing out so much about 2030. Really, it’s 17 years away and the world could be completely different. For all you know, we might meet aliens before that.
In the meantime, how are your personal finances doing? How are your relationships with the people you care about? Have you been developing skills that make you indefensible and unique? Has Samantha Lo kena anything for her skl0 street art yet? What’s the progress on the AIM issues?
I know this isn’t a particularly insightful piece of commentary, but aiyah, stop being so butthurt about everything can?
Going to share some thoughts of an intelligent friend:
“Personally I think it is possible to have 6.5 million people on this island assuming not everybody wants to work in the CBD and not everybody runs to town on weekends.
With new offices being built in Changi, the development of the Jurong Lake District, there will be a redistrubutive nature of where and how people work. Will there be enough space for everybody to drive…probably not.
Singapore still has the most green space per citizen than any other city in the world and that isn’t going to change. Parks aren’t going to be cannibalized, buildings might get taller and you might need to get to know your neighbours a little better.
Addendum: Johor is the future. Post 2030, once Malaysia has developed more or less to our level, ASEAN integration becomes more possible. We already have proposed MRT links to JB, we have about 100k or so Singaporeans already living in Malaysia (guesstimate), and as a market Malaysia offers far more opportunities for entrepreneurs and new business owners.
Having 6 million people in our market would be a great springboard, that is true but, the real markets are the rest of ASEAN. We have more planned bridge routes to JB, and there is even a mulled high speed line from SG-KL-BKK….
The way is forward. You can talk about the kampung spirit and the days of yore, and how things were better when we were younger, but the world has changed, the countries around us have changed, we can either choose to dictate how WE wish to change or be changed by it.
I would argue in the last decade the world changed us, which is why weren’t prepared, and why there is so much angst today. This paper, and the ideas and confrontations that arise from it, will put us one foot in front of the next change and better prepare us for the future and what it might bring.
Malaysia will find it’s own equilibrium of democracy… as will we. WE don’t have to give them anything.”
UPDATE: I shared this on Facebook and I got more responses from intelligent people. Here’s a great criticism of why we can’t afford to “just chill”:
“With the stop at 2 campaign and other population control measures in the past, a big part of the problem was poor forecasting of the effects of those campaigns.
Similarly, justifying the proposed population increases based on the current circumstances with sunset clauses or failure / stop loss points for possible policy failure is the same kind of oversight that was lacking for those policies in the past.
Basically your “chill out we don’t know what will happen” stance implicitly assumes other changes in the world may even the population increase out.
What I’m pointing out is that it might exacerbate it further, & our policy makers are well versed in the hubris required to not back down from flawed policy decisions until it’s too late & knee jerking the the opposite direction as they are now.”