Singapore as a global city: governance in a challenging international environment
Business and Law
School of Business
Singapore’s success as a ‘global city’ focused on the free trade of goods, services and human capital into, and out of, the island nation is barely questioned by international policy and business practitioners today. The reason for this is clear; Singapore continued to attract high-quality global enterprises based on the provision of high-quality governance, human capital, communication and technology, transportation, logistical and other key infrastructure. None of this came about by accident, being the result of decade-long planning centred on turning Singapore into a truly ‘global city’ attracting the best ‘talent’ (corporate and individual) from within strategic sectors (wealth management, biotechnology, advanced manufactures, research-focused tertiary education). However, recent economic events, most notably the global financial crisis (GFC), have revealed structural cracks in this ‘global city’ planning that has seen the long-ruling (1959–current) People’s Action Party (PAP) suffer two of its worst election results (2011 general election and 2013 by-election). Various political and policy opponents to the ruling elite have successfully highlighted that the ‘global city’ model has come at the cost of growing inequality and a real sense of displacement amongst citizens. In examining Singapore, nominally one of the truly great benefactors of globalisation, the author highlights that key factors in this processes, including free trade and human mobility, must always be constantly secured through the ascent of the polity if it is to be sustainable.