The world is interested in S'pore's solutions to problems: Ong Ye Kung

The challenges of governance are in 'crisis mode'.

Sulaiman Daud| Julia Yeo| November 22, 07:16 PM

According to Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, countries around the world are interested in Singapore's "solutions to problems".

To further this cooperation, Singapore academia can do more to make local research relevant to others in the region and beyond.

Ong said this during a speech at the Festival of Ideas, commemorating Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy's (LKYSPP) 15th anniversary on Nov. 22.

He spoke to a group of policymakers, academics, students and other guests and congratulated the think tank, which was created during the late Lee Kuan Yew's 80th birthday celebrations.

Strong interest among young academics to conduct local research

Ong said that he sensed "a strong interest" among younger academics, both local and foreign, to conduct research related to Singapore.

When speaking to them, he learned that it was untrue that local research didn't have a place in top-tier academic journals.

"The world is curious to know more about Singapore and our solutions to problems, and good local research will be well sought after by top tier publications."

He encouraged academics to conduct more local research, and make Singapore a "global reference point" in public policy research.

However, he also encouraged academics to make the effort to extrapolate what they learned here to be useful to others in a non-Singapore context.

Anonymised government data increasingly available to researchers

To encourage more local research, Ong said that Singapore government agencies have started to make their administrative data available to local researchers.

This anonymised data is shared with local social science researchers, through joint projects between government agencies and research institutions.

"We are doing something about a problem Kishore always highlighted, which is a lack of data for researchers to work on,"  said Ong, referring to Kishore Mahbubani, the founding Dean of LKYSPP.

Ong believed that the combination of academic research and the government's pool of data would be a "recipe for great insights and knowledge creation for public policy".

"Crisis mode"

In the earlier part of his speech, Ong described governance as becoming more challenging, and it would not be an exaggeration to say it is in "crisis mode."

He cited technology disrupting industries, increasing socioeconomic inequality, climate change, and immigration as challenges that policymakers had to tackle.

Ong also spoke about the worrying growth of protectionist and nationalistic sentiments across the world, with "political leaders vowing to taking back (their) countries, build walls, and put (their) country first".

The minister said that these while these narratives  may resonate emotionally, they can also sound logically simplistic.

He added that there are no quick fixes, only long-term strategies that will take time to show results.

Top image via Julia Yeo