Editorial Issue 1

Date Posted

30 Sep 2007


Issue 1, 14 Oct 2006

Welcome to the new Ethos.

Originally a newsletter started in 1994, Ethos has since become a publication of no small ambition and range. It has featured leading ideas on governance and policy from some of the most senior and expert thinkers in the Singapore Public Service and beyond. This is due in large measure to the effort and intelligence of our previous editor, Patricia Lam, to whom Ethos and its editorial team owe a great debt.

With this issue, Ethos takes on an entirely new look — one which we hope better reflects its values as a smart, professional and forward-looking journal on governance and public policy in Singapore. From 2007, Ethos will also be published biannually with a meatier slate of articles on thematic and general topics, as well as in Special Editions throughout the year.

Certainly, the changes we aspire to are more than cosmetic. We want to expand and deepen the scope of reflection on issues that are pressing — or may become so. Our vision is a journal where thought-leading, original ideas are presented, contested, refined and shared among our committed policymakers and scholars.

The Singapore Public Service enjoys a hard-won reputation for being competent and forward-looking. Some of the policies and initiatives put forward by our agencies are cutting-edge innovations. They may well have wider relevance and applicability both within and outside Singapore.

It is also folly to imagine that any government, however capable, has a monopoly on good ideas. In a fast-moving, globalised world, we cannot afford to lose track of the leading edge in thinking and action, lest we miss vital opportunities to leap ahead, or worse, be overtaken by events or the competition.

Perhaps most invaluable are ideas not yet tried or tested, but which suggest new perspectives or approaches to prevalent public issues. Some of these ideas may challenge the status quo — but what new idea doesn’t? Others may not find immediate utility in governance, although their time may come.

Our inaugural issue brings to bear some of the leading minds on a matter of global concern and national interest: Ageing. By 2050, the number of persons over 60 years of age will exceed that of children globally for the first time in human history. Singapore is also expected to age rapidly. By estimates, older persons will constitute 18.7% of Singapore’s population in 2030.

These are figures for policymakers to note with some urgency, because the window of opportunity in which to take effective action, is now. What can we expect in the decades to come and what can we do about it today?

Ethos features an interview with former UN Chief Demographer Dr Joseph Chamie, who addresses stagnant fertility rates in the context of a fast-growing senior population worldwide. Dr Sarah Harper, Director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing, contests the prevailing notion that a greying society necessarily means a declining one. Professor Norbert Walter, Chief Economist of the Deutsche Bank Group, forecasts changes in global labour, savings and investment patterns as the baby boomer population retires. Olivia Goh from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports reviews Singapore’s policy approaches to ageing in the context of social support and pension regimes worldwide. Andrew Kwok from the Singapore Civil Service College rounds up our issue with a thoughtful opinion piece identifying key areas for attention in Singapore’s ageing policies.

Ethos will continue to convene the best and most interesting thinking about public policy from Singapore and elsewhere. In due course, we hope to generate a vigorous, healthy discourse from the mix.

Let us know what you think of the new Ethos design and the articles in this issue. Tell us what you would like to see in future issues and send us your contributions or ideas for future articles, at any time. Above all, we hope that you will find the new Ethos relevant, thought-provoking, and a good read.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Alvin Pang


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