IPS Update Issue Jan 2016

IPS’ annual flagship Singapore Perspectives conference took place on 18 January and featured four panel sessions helmed by Ministers Chan Chun Sing, Ng Chee Meng, Ong Ye Kung and Heng Swee Keat. Panellists and participants raised questions on the future of Singapore’s economy, society and politics. Highlights from the conference will be featured in a one-hour programme on Channel NewsAsia, that will be telecast several times beginning 8pm on 22 January.
The fundamental demographic changes taking place in the current era present both challenges and opportunities for countries. For instance, many developed countries have to make tough social choices in the context of their ageing populations. These and other issues were discussed when IPS hosted the Singapore launch and discussion of the IMF/World Bank’s Global Monitoring Report 2015/2016: Development Goals in an Era of Demographic Change.
IPS organised a seminar recently for Dr Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), who spoke about how free enterprise can help lift many in the world out of poverty. Dr Brooks visited Singapore as the 49th Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow.

Singapore’s achievements in education are arguably impressive, but have they come at a cost? IPS Senior Research Fellow Tan Tarn How argues for a paradigm shift in our education system; one that reduces its focus on grades, but concentrates on a flourishing life.
The third instalment of the IPS Social Lab-FASS Social Science and Policy cluster’s workshop series will focus on the issues that impact the Singapore family, in light of the changes that society is undergoing. The Head of IPS Social Lab, Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser, says more about what attendees can expect from the workshop.
Ambassador Bilahari Kausikan’s first IPS-Nathan Lecture takes place on 29 January and is on the topic, “Defining the Problem”. Read this short interview with the IPS 2015/16 S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore.
IPS Research Assistants make important contributions to each research cluster’s work. A recently launched mentorship programme aims to help them hone their skills and further their career aspirations.
Not Born in Singapore — Fifty Personalities who Shaped the Nation tells the stories of 50 individuals whose efforts had contributed substantially to Singapore’s progress from third world to first. The book was launched in November 2015 and is available in bookstores now.
Has the place management approach to creating great public spaces worked? What gives a public space its “soul”? The authors argue for the need to acknowledge that some of the most vibrant places are self-made, and that the government should enable its growth, rather than plan and manicure it.
Housing grants disbursed by HDB help improve the affordability of public housing to flat buyers, particularly for the lower-middle and middle-income buyers. An across-the-board price reduction would have broader ranging implications.

Three events — the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Myanmar’s transition to democracy, and the Xi-Ma summit in Singapore — stand out as very positive developments from the bad news of conflict, disaster and tragedies of 2015.
At the opening of the 13th Parliament, President Tony Tan said that the government was studying how to “improve” the political system. Could there be a review of the Elected Presidency? There is also unfinished business in terms of clarifying and strengthening the Town Councils Act.