Can S'pore be a breakout nation again?

Can S'pore be a breakout nation again?

SINGAPORE - On a recent trip to Bali, a Singaporean undergraduate experienced an epiphany.

It was not quite what Elizabeth Gilbert described in her bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, but he reflected to me that after attending the conferences and meeting delegates from around the world at the Apec Leaders Summit, he realised Singapore's insignificance in the world.

We are just a tiny economy among giants, and the world can easily pass us by, he said.

There is nothing like heading for the warm sunshine of Bali and returning with a cold, hard dose of reality.

I can see where he is coming from. Bali gathered together many world leaders, leading academics and thinkers from the 21 member economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation or Apec, which include the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

Indeed, during the week, there was hardly any mention of Singapore.

His point was brought home to me too, at one particular session.

Morgan Stanley's head of emerging market equities Ruchir Sharma shared his list of the breakout stars of the next decade - exciting economies that will likely do better than their peers.

While the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Poland got some love, there was none for Singapore.

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