Future Prosperity Panel

Simon Tay

Chairman - Singapore Institute of International Affairs

Simon Tay is a lawyer, an adviser on political and economic issues, and a public intellectual. He teaches international law and public policy at the National University of Singapore and the LKY School of Public Policy. He also chairs the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), an independent think tank that represents Singapore in the influential ASEANISIS network to advise governments.

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Summary of essay

From an Asian perspective, we are living in a period of great uncertainty, which poses important challenges. For example, how do we transform Asian economies and achieve a more sustainable and inclusive growth? What are the pitfalls that Asians must avoid? Resolving these is fundamentally important not only for overall economic growth worldwide but for the individual prosperity of Asians.

Debate is dominated by the astounding levels of growth being experienced by some of the Asian economies, but it is unclear how best to distribute this wealth and whether it is encouraging sustainable growth that will trickle through society. There are continuing threads of poverty and injustice which must be overcome if prosperity is to be encouraged.

As a new middle class rises in the East, governments should invest in advanced education and health care. Separately, public savings and tax incentives should be harnessed to develop infrastructure. Asia must invest in itself, and financial products should be created that allow retail investors to collectively invest in infrastructure projects.