Land use is a topic that comes up time and again in Singapore. It is a great example of scarce resources which have alternative uses. The debate is about who gets to decide how much land is used for what purpose. The current debate seems to involve inputs from more sources with differing worldviews, something which is good and healthy, of course. Those advocating that golf courses give way to housing or commercial development while keeping “pristine forests” intact seem to be wanting utopian lifestyles keeping in step with nature. Those advocating for golf courses might be pragmatically recognizing that golf courses are also places where business and political leadership forge better business networks, strengthening some and perhaps terminating others.
Whatever the case, we need to continue encouraging greater responsibility and stewardship in using the land that we already have. We need to ask ourselves where our income, as a nation, is coming from, and diligently tend that source even as we keep looking and developing new sources of income. Our people need to be weaned off government grants, subsidies and so forth and take on the mindset of value producers, not hold on to the employee mindset.
When we use the small spaces that we have optimally and make those small spaces places of production, hospitality and resource availability, then discussions of land use will become more strategic in outlook, and then we will become mature and responsible users of the small land area that Singapore has.
Conserve flora and fauna? Genghis Khan decreed that hunting of game was only allowed in the winter. This allowed both flora and fauna to reproduce and preserved stocks of food and sources of recreation for the Mongol nation. They did not stop tending to their herds. Knowledge and idea exchange in the empire flourished. What is called free enterprise today already existed then and was greatly encouraged and facilitated. If we had similar mindsets and sense of stewardship today, we would probably not have to worry so much about land use and be in a position to continue developing our value and, indeed, our leadership, to the rest of the world.
Are we on that trajectory?