Green Views

Reflections of a Citizen: Transiting Singapore from First World Economy to First World Society

Jan 24, 2024

Li Seng


2 min


As I navigate between the paths of entrepreneurship and sustainability in Singapore, my journey constantly brings me back to a core reminder - My role is not just about harvesting the gains of my country as it progressed from "third world to first". It is my responsibility to contribute in nurturing the growth from a "first world economy" to "first world society". While we reap the fruits of labour that earlier generations have sown, here are three areas I believe we can go further:

1. Building Better Emotional Health as a Society

Our collective wellbeing is the bedrock of a progressive society. We could consider learning how to identify and better express our emotions. Instead of suppressing "negative emotions", we can help each other to realise it is okay at times to feel down and learn how to overcome them.

Sharing our emotions is somewhat foreign as a concept to Asians. However, if we want to learn how to work together in schools, businesses, and community spaces, fostering emotional intelligence and resilience will no longer be just an option but a necessity.

2. Go Beyond the "Hardware" to Examine the "Software" 

Singapore's skyline, with its architectural marvels, is a testament to our 'hardware' success. While we excel in infrastructure, I believe we should also consider more focus in the "soft skills". For instance, placing recycling bins does not automatically equate to us 'recycling'. We will need to spend time to educate and encourage to shape proper recycling outcomes.

If we believe what truly makes a society thrive is the 'software' — the culture, values, and social fabric, then our support mechanisms should gradually evolve to support that. We cannot simply fund projects or initiatives that solely track 'tangible' outcomes like number of people reached, but also give space to support sensible people centric initiatives that go deeper to measure sentiments.

3. Developing a Mindset Balancing Practicalities with Possibilities

Pragmatism is in our DNA - it is what made Singapore a global hub. Yet, as we chart our future, it is crucial to pair this pragmatism with the pursuit of possibilities. For instance, land constraints mean we may not be able to dedicate large parcels for one function, but we can integrate spaces so that it can be used by different communities at different times of the day. Dreaming big and starting small is a one way to remind ourselves of these possibilities.

Parting Thoughts 

Moving from a first world economy to a first world society signifies a transition beyond mere economic prosperity towards a holistic, inclusive, and advanced society. Let's not just live in a first world economy Singapore but work towards flourishing in a first world society.

Sign up for Green news

Get the latest news from Green Nudge

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Read more