I had previously written an article here about how Google and Facebook will redefine the face of diplomacy. I had further reflections on this topic. Below are further extensions to the conversation.
“Actually, Google and Facebook are Eurocentric in their perspectives. Naturally they are extensions of Europe and America, since they were developed there, and would have grown with their ideals. It’s as if they have a tactic agreement with America and Europe to be their informal channels to pursue Eurocentric ideals such as the freedom of speech, from a Eurocentric point of view, in other countries. Other countries are well aware of this, and thus China developed their own machineries such as Baidu and Weibo and Iran has developed its own Internet network.
However, it is also in the greater interests of Google and Facebook to appear as independent and to ensure that they do not appear that their interests are tied to America and Europe because in the event that America and Europe fail, Google and Facebook can rise above them. Google and Facebook could either then continue to pursue Eurocentric ideals, or they could aim to become rising political powers, and further the organisational ideals that they were built on. Alternatively, they could rebuild their alliances with other nations when that occurs.
In the longer term, if Google and Facebook can outlive the demise of the powers of some nations, they can potentially create a new world order, because of the functions and interactions that they have created, or are in the process of doing so.”
“Actually, if you look at the Singapore government, they understand that for Singapore’s future and survival, we need the world to continue to operate within the framework of globalisation and that Singapore functions as one of the key nodes/hubs within this globalisation. They know that they need to disassociate Singapore’s status from being that of a country to being one that predominantly functions as an international hub of necessity. Thus they allow our boundaries to be porous, in order to ensure that other countries also have a stake in Singapore’s future, so that other countries will contribute to maintain our status as a hub, and by extension, our existence.
However, the people of Singapore don’t. The people continue to see themselves as citizens of a country. If Singapore wants to continue to stay relevant, we need to move beyond seeing ourselves as a country, and even as a city, but to uplift our status to one as an international hub with further integrated services, both physical and online. The government knows this but it needs to communicate this vision to Singaporeans, in a way that does not expose its strategy. And Singaporeans need to step up to understand this vision.
In a way, this was what Minister K Shanmugam had hoped to explain in subtle terms, when he described Singapore as a city and not a country, but this thinking is still too advanced for Singaporeans to appreciate. He had also underestimated the importance of the cultural ties that Singaporeans would actually want to hold on to, to Singapore – because of people’s natural want to develop cultural affinity for rootedness.
But this means that the government needs to start respecting the people as equals and build mutual trust, so that this vision can be clearly communicated. If the government wants to move Singapore into the knowledge economy where the openness of the economy and communications are vital, it would need to operate like Google and Facebook, and encourage openness, creativity and innovation among the people.”