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Consider 2050 target for Sustainable S’pore blueprint

I agree with the commentary, “People must be at the heart of blueprint for a sustainable S’pore” (Nov 7).

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

I agree with the commentary, “People must be at the heart of blueprint for a sustainable S’pore” (Nov 7).

We must avoid pitfalls in the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, and I am concerned about the composition and dynamics of our population come 2030. The challenge would be less daunting if we were a country with more homogeneity, such as Hong Kong or Taiwan.

We now have 2.1 million immigrants of various ethnic, social, linguistic and economic origins. By 2030, could we manage the integration of up to one million more people from diverse sources? This could well be our Achilles’ heel in pursuing the vision of an inclusive society.

It is not difficult to transform Singapore into a green city, with energy-efficient buildings and sky gardens, because these are the hardware. Public transport that runs smoother as well as reduced energy and water consumption may need more measures.

But to sustain a harmonious society with little social and income inequality, amid undercurrents of tension, may need different approaches.

Stringent controls and money can solve hardware problems, but not “heartware” conflicts. A gracious society with racial harmony requires a long time to nurture, and collective efforts by the Government, communities and the individual.

Planning for both a cosmopolitan and liveable city may take perhaps half a century.

There are no “instant trees” for this, and we must accept trade-offs between economic growth and lower population density to enjoy a clean environment in Singapore.

We should look at how long it took to create global cities such as London, New York, Paris and Tokyo.

I would be pessimistic about achieving the blueprint’s vision for 2030, where native and new Singaporeans are proud to call this country home and love it, if we continue to grapple with achieving an inclusive and harmonious multiracial society.

To avoid missteps, we must cross the river by feeling the stones, with small foreign population increments. Perhaps 2050 is a realistic target, with more room to manoeuvre.

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