BY ALAIN TEH AND NG QI SIANG
If the past year has taught us anything, the only certainty the future promises is uncertainty. While the COVID-19 pandemic seemed largely under control as the year began, the emergence of the Omicron variant placed a renewed strain on healthcare systems worldwide. This threat was soon eclipsed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which threatened energy security, global supply chains, and the integrity of the liberal international order. Meanwhile, inflation has been raging at levels unseen in decades. This has forced central banks worldwide to raise rates aggressively, sending markets into a tailspin. Amidst such eventful times, the Singapore government is laying the foundations for a future leadership transition and defining a roadmap for the next decade and beyond.
In this time of change, what is the role of a student-run publication like the Singapore Policy Journal? Looking back into our nation’s history, one identifies parallels with a very similar organization in post-war London – the Malayan Forum. Comprising young overseas students, the group met regularly to discuss current affairs and make sense of their country’s future amid the tumult of decolonization. While the Forum’s goal was to win independence from Britain, ours is to build upon this legacy by discussing how best to ensure Singapore’s continued security and prosperity. With many of Singapore’s founding fathers coming from this generation of students, they are a testament to the intellectual vibrancy of young people and our potential to chart our nation’s course. The Singapore Policy Journal reaffirms its mission as a platform for exchanging ideas and a forum for discussing public policy in Singapore. We invite all Singaporeans to join us in re-envisioning our future in this brave new world.
2021/22 in review
Under the leadership of our predecessors, John Chua and Russell Yip, the journal has already made a strong contribution towards this mission. Last year, the journal curated and published 10 articles, covering topics such as Education, Criminal Justice, Religion, and the Digital Technology/Smart Nation.
In terms of events, the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions saw the SPJ resume in-person discussion sessions, bringing the Singaporean community back together after a long absence. Over food and traditional Singaporean snacks, our team engaged fellow Singaporeans on the pressing challenges facing the nation in the post-COVID world such as youth unemployment and the future of public housing in Singapore. As Singapore’s 4G leadership prepares to take on the mantle of leadership, we also discussed the leadership renewal process in Singapore and the challenges our new leaders will face when leading Singapore into a more uncertain era.
We also organized The Singapore and Southeast Asia Forum (SSEAF) – a two-day-long conference discussing Singapore’s position within our increasingly pivotal region. Headlined by renowned sinologist Professor Wang Gungwu from the National University of Singapore and moderated by Fairbank Center for China Studies Director Professor Michael Szonyi, the event saw participants debate the pivotal role that a rising China plays in Southeast Asia. Renowned policy experts like Professor Kenneth Paul Tan of Hong Kong Baptist University and long-time regional observer Steve Okun also discussed regional great power competition and the future of the Singapore Dream respectively. The key takeaway from the event was that the future of Singapore is irrevocably tied to the fate of Southeast Asia, and that the region must continue to nurture multilateral cooperation. As Southeast Asia grows in economic and strategic clout, Singapore ignores the region at its peril.
These achievements would not have been possible without the efforts of our hardworking and amazing team. In particular, we bid farewell to our predecessors, John and Russell, as well as departing editors Al Lim, Daniel Ofosu, Elaine Yeo, Jovan Lim, Marcus Ho, Sarah Anderson, and Wong Shi Le. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours. At the same time, we welcome our new members Althea Lee, Claire Tham, Clarice Tan, and Naveen Sharma to the editorial team. Clarice and Naveen will serve as senior editors and contribute towards helping us run our exciting programming for the coming year.
Plans for the Year
The SPJ is reviewing its editorial processes to fit the policy and news cycle better. While continuing to uphold high editorial standards, we recognize the need to keep pace with rapid news cycles and time-pressed policymakers. Consequently, the Journal is working to streamline its editorial processes for the op-ed and explainer genres to ensure that our high-quality policy analysis will be delivered on time to contribute to pertinent policy debates. Long-form genres such as research papers will continue to have longer editorial cycles to ensure that their deeper and more complex insights can be thoroughly examined.
The Journal will continue to build up a more diverse authorship base to bring a greater variety of viewpoints and opinions to our publications. We aim to bring new voices from industry, government, and civil society to contribute the fruits of their unique experiences. The SPJ will actively reach out to specialized authors with distinctive insights to contribute to the Journal.
Part of the magic of the SPJ has always been the strong sense of community that the Journal has built among Singaporeans in Greater Boston and beyond. With the general lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, the Journal aims to use its events to bring together the Singaporean community over one of our nation’s unifying passions – food. At the same time, we do realize the need to engage our core constituency in Singapore, as well as the global community of overseas Singaporeans and friends of Singapore. We will continue hybrid and remote programming to reach out to our increasingly cosmopolitan constituency to create inclusive access for our events. We remain vigilant about the global COVID-19 situation and will make necessary adjustments should regulations change.
In spite of these changes, some things will always stay the same. We reaffirm our commitment to being an open, honest, and non-partisan platform for policy discourse, accepting submissions from individuals with diverse viewpoints relevant to the public policy discourse in Singapore. Rigor, relevance, and readability remain our only criteria for assessment. Committed to promoting awareness of Singapore and Southeast Asia at Harvard and the United States, we will also work with other like-minded groups to spark constructive conversations on Singapore and its place in the world. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any collaboration opportunities.
How do I get involved?
If you are interested in our content or events, please refer to the links below to get updates for upcoming events and publications:
- Subscribe to our website: Get notifications when we publish new pieces
- Like our SPJ Facebook page for updates on pieces and to see when we hold discussion events in Boston
- In Boston? Like the SSEAF page for updates when we hold panels and events with distinguished academics and thinkers
- Want to write? Submit an article to this email address.
- Interested in responding to one of our published pieces? We welcome Letters to the Editors