Thinking Long Term
Thinking long-term has always been a crucial part of Singapore’s planning. This helps identify problems that could arise in the future, which allows policymakers take mitigating steps beforehand. As a result of our constant and consistent effort to think ahead, Singapore has maintained sustained economic growth and infrastructure development despite our lack of natural resources.
When we underwent a rapid industrialisation process from the 1960s to the 1980s, Singapore ensured that its energy infrastructure could always serve commercial, industrial, and residential needs.
For instance, PUB worked closely with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Singapore to estimate the power demand based on development plans and economic growth projections. Together, they formulated Long-term Power Station Development Plans that oversaw the construction of new power construction over a 10-20 year horizon.
Long-term planning is critical in managing water resources in Singapore. This resource is often a source of tension between Singapore and Malaysia. In 1998, Malaysia raised supplying water to Singapore when Singapore decided to relocate Malaysia’s immigration and customs checkpoint from the old Tanjong Pagar railway station to Woodlands Train Checkpoint. In 2018, then-Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed sought to renegotiate the price of water sold to Singapore, criticising it as “manifestly ridiculous”.
Part of our efforts to navigate the thorny water issue includes diversifying our water sources and reducing our reliance on water from Malaysian sources.
Singapore’s approach to building water resilience for the long haul started in 1971 with the Water Planning Unit’s formation, which searched for conventional and unconventional water sources. The unit formulated the first Water Master Plan in 1972, which proposed a diversified water supply that would meet future water and development needs for the next 50 years – the Four National Taps.