Climate change as national security issue: How Singapore’s response reflects outstanding leadership

How South Beach, Miami, could look if temperatures rise by 2C. Photograph: Nickolay Lamm of Climate Central

At his recent National Day Rally speech, Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong framed climate change in the gravest terms, as a national security issue and “existential” threat that must be treated with the same “utmost seriousness” as the Singapore Armed Forces. He added that the 50-100 year problem would require a 50-100 year plan that could cost S$100 b or more.

Below are the thoughts of my learned friend Vincent Tan on the Singapore government’s plan, shared with his permission. Thank you for so generously sharing your knowledge and insights as always, Vincent.


This is something that makes me brim with pride when I watched the speech, much better than any Merdeka Package goodies giveaways can effect in our small nation state. What impresses me most are the following:

1) Our policymakers are in touch with and cognizant of the the latest science on climate change and the incontrovertible evidence backing the research which although not conclusive in accuracy (data is still being collected) is conclusive about the directional damage and irreversibility, if not embraced and addressed by global state actors. Where even the US denies and the European governments acknowledge but still vacillate about collective action, SG has embraced science, acted assertively and thoughtfully in leading to confront climate change in a constructive manner, that will signal to the bigger states that there are options that they can follow.

2) The plan is long term and given the highest priority of “national security”, much unlike (US President Donald) Trump’s abuse of his executive powers under the same moniker. Given the grave implications to future generations and Singapore’s future as an aspiring global megacity, putting resources and money where our future is is is an act of courage that only the brave and the tenacious dare, never mind the climate change deniers’ lame excuse of the impending catastrophe as an “Act of God”

3) The manner and the way the nation was mobilised to confront the challenge shows that we can be responsible for our own destinies. We didn’t lament the fact that others are not acting or haven’t acted. We simply acted out of necessity, undaunted by the challenges with a plan articulated in a rational and practical way.

This is leadership that is best in its essence. Kudos that we are living in one. Hoping that the Singapore leadership will adopt such deep, capable and insightful foresight in all its dealings with our citizenry.


Steven Ooi, a First Class Honours grad from the National University of Singapore, retired from a distinguished 14-year career as an English and GP tutor in 2016. He continues to blog on issues of concern to General Paper and student life.

To view tutors recommended by him, click here.

GP model essays here.

Exams are coming. Here’s a great revision technique.

Associate Professor Koh Tieh Yong’s commentary, Climate Change in Singapore and What the Future Brings

About gptuitionsg

A dedicated English and GP tutor with First Class Honours from the National University of Singapore, Steven Ooi retired from the profession after a 14-year career during which he was one of the most sought-after private tutors in Singapore. He is the recipient of the Minerva Prize from NUS, which is awarded to the top English Language honours student of each cohort. This website, which has consistently ranked among the top 10 on Google and has received over 530,000 hits, has now been converted into a GP resource site cum listing of recommended tutors. If you are a GP or English tutor who wishes to be listed here, please email Steven Ooi at stevenooi18 @ (remove the spaces). Interested parties will be assessed and interviewed by him, and qualifications will be checked. These procedures are necessary to uphold quality standards. DISCLAIMER: While every reasonable effort has been made to assess the competence and verify the qualifications of recommended tutors here, no guarantees are made and you engage them at your own risk. By using this website, you agree that you will not hold the webmaster Steven Ooi responsible for any consequences — direct or otherwise — that occur in relation with your use of this website.
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