It’s time to cross the ‘us and them’ divide or planet is doomed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 February, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 February, 2016, 12:15am

We live in an age of great dichotomies. Some countries consume too much and produce too little, while some do the opposite. Some rejoice in the take-off of the Fourth Industrial Revolution while still many others have no power supply on a large scale.

The world remains callous to the threats of global warming, epidemics, extremism and human migration.

Much of the current state of affairs has to do with how the world is organised.

The 193 countries in the world just do not serve our global village well. How many free trade agreements must a country sign to enjoy free trade? The asynchronous monetary policies adopted by various countries are helping a currency war. Many have flocked to regional blocs for safety in numbers, only to find a greater stumbling block to solving their problems. Monetary union without fiscal union entrenches many nations, and their people, in the rich-poor divide.

If we are all sharing earth’s finite resources, it calls for better allocation of these scarce economic resources. The world is in disequilibrium because of huge imbalances between surplus units (emerging economies) and deficit units (developed world). It calls for an urgent restart to the game to reduce these imbalances. The human migration of recent times, either out of necessity or choice, is perhaps a sign of this rebalancing.

The world order is still served by arcane institutions inherited from past eras.

Despite acknowledging that Mother Earth has got warmer, countries are still bogged down in yearly bickering on how to address global warming. If we remain steadfast in this “us against them” mentality, falling along the developed against developing nations divide, soon there will be no planet earth to speak of.

We face a common destiny. It is time we questioned the old order amid an age of great disruptions exacerbated by technology. The resurgence of fundamentalist thoughts is perhaps a response to gripping fear of these disruptions faced by humanity.

Lee Teck Chuan, Singapore