Looking Ahead to 2018: Key national issues to watch

Today Online 31 Dec 17;
No 4 is Year of Climate Action for Singapore

As we enter the new year, TODAY’s Looking Ahead to 2018 series — which was first published over the final week of December — examines key issues on the local and foreign front in the next 12 months. In Singapore, we look at what lies ahead in areas ranging from political succession and climate change, to the terrorism threat and public transportation.

1. S’pore’s political succession to pick up pace

With a major Cabinet reshuffle on the cards early this year, 2018 could turn out be one of the most significant years in Singapore’s political history, and set the stage for the decades ahead — should Singaporeans and the world at large get the clearest indication of who will succeed PM Lee Hsien Loong as the Republic’s fourth Prime Minister.

Going by previous leadership handovers, PM Lee has left it late in giving the public an idea of who his potential successors could be, political analysts and observers say. They added that with the incumbent Government entering the middle of its term next year, the new generation of leaders has to take shape sooner, rather than later, to give them enough time to come into their own before the next General Election (GE) due by Jan 2021. http://tdy.sg/2DEzzZ3

2. Restoring public confidence in MRT vital for car-lite goal

Up until two confidence-sapping train incidents struck in consecutive months late in the year, various parts of the plan to convince the public that there would soon be little need to own a car in Singapore were coming together nicely.

The MRT network, however, was always seen as the centrepiece of Singapore’s car-lite vision, given that nearly every home will be within 10 minutes of a station, albeit years down the road.

With public confidence in the rail network shattered by the two high-profile incidents — an unprecedented tunnel flooding and a train collision — how the MRT system holds up in 2018 will have a big say in whether the drive to nudge more Singaporeans into relying on public transport for daily commuting gets back on track, experts said. http://tdy.sg/2pNpp6r

3. More disruptions in store for taxi industry

Roiled by the most aggressive moves yet by ride-hailing operators Grab and Uber in 2017, the seven taxi firms here are in for a period of reckoning, experts said.

Their business model, centred on picking up street hails, has been rendered obsolete as commuters turn to the greater convenience and affordability of private-hire cars, and as things stand, they could become little more than vehicle providers, transport experts predicted. http://tdy.sg/2pFuP37

4. To tackle climate change, all hands needed on deck

From calls to avoid plastic packaging to campaigns to cut food waste, the message for everyone to help fight climate change will be amplified in the year ahead.

2018 will be the Year of Climate Action for Singapore, declared Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli last month.

His ministry wants the public to know “the government alone cannot tackle climate change”, and will be rallying Singaporeans to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint with the help of various partners.

On the ground, there is no lack of enthusiasm among environmental activists, who already have plans lined up to get people to take little steps to make a difference – bring their own bags, eat less meat and use fewer plastic straws, for instance. http://tdy.sg/2DAXWGM

5. Even as ISIS weakens, evolving terror threat looms for S’pore

The stranglehold of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East is on the brink of collapse, and its leadership in disarray.

But although ISIS has been dealt one blow after another by an international military coalition in 2017, it is still holding fort online, with Singaporeans among those swayed over to its cause.

The threat of radicalisation is set to persist in the year ahead, and terrorism experts said Singapore must also keep on its radar the return of ISIS foreign fighters to their homelands in Southeast Asia, as well as the resurgence of a familiar enemy – the Jemaah Islamiyah. http://tdy.sg/2pWUp3Y