Begone 2016! It Could Have Been Better

2016 will long be remembered for its killing spree.

David Bowie, Muhammad Ali, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder, Prince, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Harper Lee, Umberto Eco, George Martin, Nancy Reagan, Peter Shaffer, Alvin Toffler, Sonia Rykiel, Arnold Palmer, Bobby Vee, Glenn Frey, Robert Vaughn, Fidel Castro, John Glenn, George Michael, and the mother-daughter team of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, among others.

It was a record year for notable death notices.

Well, that’s inevitable when the Baby Boomer generation decides to call it a day. Some may have been premature, but many were reaching the end of the line. Their presence will continue to be felt courtesy of modern technology, which will keep them alive on social media and other global networks.

Maybe the next generation may pick up a tip or trick from having access to their greatness.

The next generation swims in with the likes of Joseph Schooling and his gold medal triumph in the Olympics.

The economy is lacklustre, with the region offering more options for growth. The cost of living continues to rise. We are still thrashing the undergrowth to find the path forward.

It’s a time for facing up to challenges, while seeking out opportunities. Will our prevailing mindset of looking to the system to provide work against us? Are we able to rewire our thinking to become effective hunters?

Everything shifts and changes. That’s the nature of life in this age.

STORM talks to several people who share their experiences of 2016 and their hopes for next year.

We present it in two parts. Those who feel it could have been better, and those who found 2016 to their liking.

Among them are: Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; entertainer Dick Lee, Chairman of Tampines Rovers Football Club, Krishna Ramachandra; Dr Stephen Riady, Executive Chairman of OUE; and Chong Siak Ching, CEO of National Gallery Singapore. Hear what they and their peers have to say about the passage of time and how they rate 2016 and what they hope 2017 will be.


Krishna Ramachandra, Chairman, Tampines Rovers

It is worth noting the clear correlation between the richest and most developed nations with how the sporting lifestyle is embraced, and indeed, thrives in such countries. These countries have sports imbibed as a culture and it ends up becoming entrenched as an identity of the people.

Singapore needs to step up on this front and swiftly back the development of a true sporting culture; one that equally embraces sports as a heathy lifestyle as much as it does for aspiring professionals in sport.

To be fair, the government through Sports Singapore has a blueprint but personally I feel that whilst the government may previously have had the luxury of adopting a “nice to have” approach to promoting sports, it is now imperative that it meaningfully supports the sporting culture.

The millennials are discerning and an overall balanced lifestyle is critical to them. They are almost single-handedly responsible for post-truth politics that has swept through the world.

Sport has always played an important role in galvanising a nation, especially our professional sportspersons.

Football remains the most popular sport in Singapore. It must be given special attention. Not preferential treatment, but an important policy mandate because football as a sport is, more than ever, capable of impacting the socio-political landscape in Singapore.

The recent past has been a tumultuous period for football in Singapore. I expect the government to carefully revisit its current somewhat neutral stance in respect of Singapore football.

Certainly, as the sporting culture is embraced, football will need to have special attention and not be relegated to being part of a “one size fits all” blueprint for sports in Singapore.

2016: 6/10
The highlight of the year is Joseph Schooling’s performance at the Olympics and that is creating a breakthrough in mindsets towards sports.
2017: 9/10
The government will actively embrace sports and it can only get better from here!


Ku Swee Yong, CEO, International Property Advisor


2016 is a good example of a topsy-turvy year. It started the year with the China stock market roller coaster ride in the first weeks. And the ride has carried on.

2017 will be topsy-turvy too. Major global events to watch for include Donald Trump’s succession in January and the French, German and possibly Malaysian elections. Jakarta’s governor’s election in February will also be worth keeping an eye out for.

Back home in Singapore, we can expect retrenchments to increase as companies rationalise or merge. We eagerly await the recommendations of the Committee For Future Economy.

While I am not expecting a silver bullet or fast solutions, I would like to see if the government will adopt solid long term growth plans and set Singapore sailing into a sustainably prosperous future.

2016: 5/10

2017: 7/10
During a tough downturn, I think real solid opportunities will emerge.


Babita Ambekar, Head of India Practice, Duane Morris & Selvam LLP


On a global level, 2016 certainly kept alive the concept that revolution still exists. The lesson would be to never underestimate undercurrents and always keep ‘one ear to the ground’. This has been a difficult year for the ‘establishment’ and perhaps one that will be a pivot for global politics.

From an economic perspective, sentiment has generally followed the political fallout. Leading on from this however has been the increasing emergence of Asian economies, such as India, as thought leaders for the world. From that perspective, 2016 may prove to be a defining year in terms of global power-play.

It is likely to be similarly tumultuous next year. However, it will be a year for which we are now better prepared.

The Singapore legal services market will be increasingly cross border and emerging markets are likely to constitute a more significant proportion of our work. From that perspective, by extending our regional remit in a significant way these past few years, we expect to stand in reasonably good stead for the coming year.

While law is jurisdiction specific, I see increasing demand from clients for lawyers who have experience in working on matters involving multiple jurisdictions regionally for specific practice areas. For our industry, I expect this trend to continue.

2016: 4/10

It has not been one of my favourite years, for a variety of reasons.
2017: 7/10
My hope for 2017 would be that the world finds its footing, whatever that may be, and begins to chart out its new trajectory.  As a supporter of getting on with things, moving ahead and finding silver linings in clouds, I am an optimist to some extent! I am sure that the ecosystem will recalibrate in a measured way and find its equilibrium.


Executive Director Millet Holdings and board member of The Rice Co.


2016 saw the unfolding of many “unexpected” or simply “unexplained” phenomena in the geo-political landscape!

It has prepared us to adopt an approach that nothing is impossible and that we must always anticipate the unexpected.

The Rice Group decided to disrupt itself by incorporating an investment holding company, and without further ado sought opportunities outside Singapore for creative companies and individuals.

We are pleasantly surprised with the success we enjoyed.

A friend recently told me that according to an ancient calendar, 2017 heralds the start of a new nine-year cycle.

So, I think it will be a year to start new movements and trends — at least in business with Millet Holdings and the upcoming Millet World which will herald a new approach to deal making.

With the leads found in 2016, we believe that we have created pipelines and demand for the creative industry.

2016: 5/10

2017: 5/10
Being a pragmatist optimist, I am hoping it’s at least a high 5.


T. Ranganayaki, Deputy Executive Director, Beyond Social Services


There wasn’t a key highlight, but a succession of good and bad news that flooded in.

The various attacks by terrorists, and more importantly the responses to them on social media shook my confidence in a cohesive human race. As political lines, race and religion seem to be getting an upper hand, I do wonder what we as humanity identify with.

It just propels me to be a better person, and I want to deepen my acceptance and understanding of people.

If 2016 was the height of discord, 2017 will bring more opportunities for us to decide who we want to be.

An economic slump is expected next year, so that will put a damper on the whole year.

2016: 5/10

2017: 5/10

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