Thursday, 25 October 2012

Peak Oil, Peak PAP, Peak Singapore and the Golden Age

Peak oil is the point in time when the maximum rate of petroleum extraction is reached, after which the rate of production is expected to enter terminal decline. 

When we talk about the golden age of Singapore, we are also referring to a stage that we have reached the maximum of our growth and development.  If the present day Singapore is the golden era, then we will see the decline soon. But is it a Peak PAP or Peak Singapore or both?

So, using the Peak Oil concept, we may also extend the same logic to Peak PAP and Peak Singapore. Few will disagree that Peak PAP means the seats of PAP MPs in the Parliament will decline in future elections.  The only possibility to increase the number of PAP MPs in future is to increase the total number of members of Parliament in Singapore.  But in terms of percentage, the current 93% is the peak for the PAP and then it will decline to a lower percentage in future.

Whether we have reached the Peak Singapore or not, it is harder to say.  But if it is still the PAP ruled government, then perhaps we have reached the Peak Singapore as they have used up all their supported resources. (And the National Conversation is not inclusive enough to push us to a new high level).

PM Lee in his speech to Singapore International Energy Week 2010 pointed out the following interesting points:

<We consume energy in the course of almost all parts of our daily lives. It makes possible the way we live, work, play and travel. And ever since the Industrial Revolution and especially over the past century, mankind has relied on cheap supplies of fossil fuels to drive economic progress. But this dependence will be very difficult to be sustained. >

Comparing the cheap fuels and the cheap labour including our very own Singaporeans, the future growth of Singapore is certainly cannot rely on this cheap labour supply anymore.  In fact, as the government has promised after GE2011, we have already reached the stage of Peak Foreign Labour.   Future increase of foreign labour will be moderate and controlled. Nevertheless, the population under the PAP has yet to reach its peak and maybe through some creative arrangements some increases in population can be re-channelled to the pool of labour force.  

So the golden age, the Peak PAP, we are talking about is the golden age of the PAP and its associates, including mainstream media which has lost its monopoly status, the ISA for the use to detain political oppositions, and perhaps the moral high ground of wealth creation, casino and civil servants, etc.

Peak Oil does not stop the progress of the world so does the Peak PAP. Singapore will continue to grow and develop after the Peak PAP. We will use less oil and of course, Singapore will use less cheap labour. The Singapore sustainable growth and development will have to shift from materials gains to a meaningful living – a situation quite different from Peak PAP.

In fact, take the example of the USA; they are now consuming less oil, water and many other natural resources with a bigger population as compared to 10, 20 years ago.   USA is still progressing even though at a slower rate.  Singapore, being a small country and a first world country, can no longer consume resources including our human resources like the past.  Even land use and population, many believe we have reached the level of Peak Land and Peak Population.  

In the same speech, PM Lee said:

<There are two sets of concerns. First, fossil fuel resources are finite and depleting. Easily tapped supplies will gradually diminish and then the next supplies will become more expensive; in more inaccessible areas, deeper under the ocean, with new complex technologies involved in extracting the fossil fuels. The concentration of oil and gas supplies in just a few countries also raises serious national security concerns. >

The future supply of foreign labour, like oil, will be more expensive and difficult to get by.  In fact, Chinese construction workers have found that the wages offered in Singapore are no more attractive and they can get the same compensation in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Also, will the concentration of labour supply in a few countries a national concern to us?

Energy generation can come from fossil fuel and other alternative resources, like winds, solar or even nuclear power (that the PAP is very interested in). Singapore, as a country, will continue relying on energy to boost our economy and support our daily life.  From this aspect, relying 100% on the PAP source of energy is a risky decision and is certainly a security threat and concern to the future of Singapore.  It is all because we have already seen the Peak PAP.

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