Thursday, December 24, 2009

Are Singaporeans less hard working and hard driving?

Here is an interview given by Mr. Lee Kuan Yew to the National Geographic magazine:

Over time, the MM says, Singaporeans have become "less hard-driving and hard-striving." This is why it is a good thing, the MM says, that the nation has welcomed so many Chinese immigrants (25 percent of the population is now foreign-born). He is aware that many Singaporeans are unhappy with the influx of immigrants, especially those educated newcomers prepared to fight for higher paying jobs. But taking a typically Darwinian stance, the MM describes the country's new subjects as "hungry," with parents who "pushed the children very hard." If native Singaporeans are falling behind because "the spurs are not stuck into the hide," that is their problem.

I find this remark to be quite unfair to Singaporeans. Already, they have to study very hard in schools, such that many children do not have time to play and enjoy their childhood. The male citizens have also to serve National Service. I read that many immigrants are not willing to become Singapoore citizens if they are required to serve National Service.

In spite of these efforts, Mr. Lee said that the Singaporeans have become "less hard-driving and hard-striving".


Anonymous said...

Is he also referring to his own grandchildren? Let's see how they turn out. With yearly millions earned, I guess his grandchildren and their next few generation no need to work for life.....

Anonymous said...

For a country as big as China, obviously there are some places and people there where things are much worse off than Singapore. They even find Singapore attractive despite low wages and poor working conditions when they come here.

So Singapore is attracting a lot of such immigrants, not so much as those from richer and more developed areas of China.

And in doing so. we are in fact not only downgrading ourselves in quality of living but also create difficulty in seeking a living for a majority of our own people.

Of course the ruling and other elite classes are not affected by all this.

GDP may grow with such a policy but there are many hidden negative social aspects arising from this.

Only time will tell if things will reach an explosive level.

Or maybe MM Lee knows better. But he can be wrong too, as shown in past cases.

Anonymous said...

This just confirms what I already know:

1. No matter how hard Singaporeans try, there is just no pleasing some people.

2. We have very "caring" leaders

3. Loyalty is a waste of time. If I don't perform, Singapore will just import in foreign talent.

So maybe if Singapore doesn't perform, I should likewise emigrate.

4. It's always encouraging to know that my leader does not think very highly of me, perhaps no better than a trained & disciplined beast of burden.

"one must understand human nature. I have always thought that humanity was animal-like. The Confucian theory was man could be improved, but I'm not sure he can be. He can be trained, he can be disciplined."

5. My survival is my problem. Not my leader's problem. No quarter will be offered. Remember this the next time you donate blood or volunteer.

"If native Singaporeans are falling behind because "the spurs are not stuck into the hide," that is their problem."

Anonymous said...

Last time I don't know.
But after watching a video (movie) from China, I realise that it is in fact much eaiser for some Chinese in certain rural areas to migrate to spore and become PR or even citizen, than for them to move to another city in their own country.
Their so-call "HuKou" ("户口") system is still in force, and make it very difficult for them to move from rural areas to the cities, even more difficult than to migrate to another country.

Of course they would rather come to spore.
And China is so big, and there are so many of these people.

How is spore going to "absord" all these people?????

Anonymous said...

REX comments
I am shocked to read these disparaging remarks from this old man, not just because of its implications, but also because he is airing bad linen in other's courtyards.

Removing all the victorian english aside, LKY plainly told the american media (not S'pore media), "Singaporeans are getting LAZY that's why we have to bring in 25% foreingners to overcome it).

What kind of leadership is this? I never heard of it. Analogy: If your children are lazy, is it not your fatherly duty to train and help him with all means possible? Instead, his solution is to kick flesh and blood out of the house and look around adopt another child, without giving his own child a chance. I suppose that his own children and grand children will be exempted from such treatment. I don't believe it. It is absolutely horrifying and outrageous!!!

One pertinent point: we cannot compare times of old to present times. 50 years ago, it was a level playing field. Chinese immigrants worked hard together with locals for the same rewards. Today, locals can work hard, but we are bogged down with artificial barriers like high CPF (so employers favour foreigners), NS reservist (so employers favour foreigners) high exchange rate (so foreigners effectively gain more and have more reason to work hard), high HDB prices (foreigners earn singapore money and convert back to their home money and they can afford decent housing) and many other socio economic factors.

I was luckily born in a generation when, if you work hard, you will succeed. THERE EXISTS AN INCENTIVE FOR WORKING HARD. Today things are so bad that there is somethings no reason to work hard, because you can't succeed are get rich that way. The Singapore dream is shattered.

On the other hand, foreingers have reason to work hard, because the SGP dollar is strong and they can convert back and retire comfortably in their original land.

I think it is a very very very sad Christmas present LKY give to Singaporeans. The Great Leader is abandoning us totally, and telling the whole world about it. This is his Christmas present to all of us.

Merry Christmas you lazy Singaporeans!

25th Dec., 2009

Anonymous said...


Redstar said...

MM had recently called the Golden Age on Singapore economy, and the market crashed in 2009.
My experience with the civil servants and our economy indicates otherwise. I am calling on the decline of Singapore.

I see our development mirroring what had happened to the Japanese economy. Both are resource constrained and dependent on human resources development. Unlike Japan leadership, MM advocates influx of foreigners and even encourage Japan leaders to adopt this approach (based on news article I read, please verify). The Japanese have their unique approach to working out problems, and instead choose to limit foreign influx but rely more on technology and innovations.

As a race, they are more cohesive than Singaporeans who only think for themselves. Their leaders are more compassionate and caring. More important, unlike MM, their system does not have a GRC for elections and a weak opposition. They knew they could not let the voters down.
Hope I am wrong on my call.

Concerned said...

It is in the nature of humans that after some progression, the majority of people tend to relax and take things easier. For this history can attest. Our forefathers and our generations have worked hard to bring Singapore to this level and some of the later generation tend to take things a bit easier. The new immigrants will be like our forefathers, they have come here and will work hard, but their descendants will similarly be like our present younger generations and tend to relax and take things easier. So in future, are we going to import another another batch of immigrants again so that another new wave of immigrants can an spur the future locals to work harder. Do you have the land, the space, the infrastructure, the resources, etc to accommodate such outlandish thinking.

Anonymous said...

For those of you out there who are familiar with corporate retrenchments and restructuring, doesn't this National Geographic interview sound like a typical corporate restructuring and retrenchment interview given by management?

You are a young worker in 1965. Fired up by a charismatic leader, you join and remain loyal to a young start-up company called Lionpore Inc.

With a loyal workforce and a capable team of senior managers behind him, the visionary leader delivers a long string of success and achievements to Lionpore Inc., despite all odds and difficulties laid against it.

After 44 years of uninterrupted success, Lionpore and the leader is praised and admired all over the world. Books after books are written about Lionpore Inc.'s leader and his management methods... called the Lionpore Model.

The 1965 young and loyal worker who was given good performance appraisals in the earlier years is suddenly told in his latest performance appraisal that he is not good enough anymore.

After much hard work hard and sacrifices during his youth to help build up Lionpore, now that he is in his late 40's, he is suddenly told in very vague terms that management no longer finds him a good corporate fit. And then he is given the pink slip.

He has to learn indirectly from foreign newspaper and magazines that he is being replaced because he is "less hard-driving and hard-striving" than the young fresh graduate who is deemed to be more "hungry."

Saddened at the sudden betrayal, this former young and idealistic worker (now cash strapped and approaching senior citizen status) vows to pass on his life lessons to his children so that they will not suffer the same fate.

The American model of selfish invidualism is the only sound defence against an exploitatative world.

Be a mercenary. Never volunteer. Always ask, how do I benefit from this?

Anonymous said...

Vote The PAP Out!

Anonymous said...

Reference comments by REX:

" Analogy: If your children are lazy, is it not your fatherly duty to train and help him with all means possible? "

The "elephant in the room" (and I say this respectfully to both REX and MM Lee) is that MM Lee is not your father.

MM Lee is a leader just like Alexander the Great was a leader.

Leaders lead and set goals. Followers follow, sacrifice and die in order to achieve the goals.

We all know Alexander the Great was a great conqueror. Can anybody give me 100 names of the 42,000 soldiers who joined Alexander when he first invaded Persia and Asia in 334BC? Of course you can't.

Most of the 42,000 soldiers who helped Alexander achieve his goals were just "digits" as far as historians and most of us are concerned.

It is the destiny of most Singaporeans to be nothing more than digits.

But remember this. You are not a digit to your family. You are a son/daughter, father/mother, grandfather/grandmother and uncle/auntie.

If you have lived to serve your family, you will not die in vain. You will be mourned and missed by the people who truly love and miss you. You can never be replaced in their hearts by a foreign worker who is cheaper, better and faster.

If you live to serve your corporation and country, well I'll let you decide if you have lived in vain.

Steven tay said...

So if Singaporeans are not hardworking enough, this is our problem; whereas our so-called leaders will just import FTs to tke over what we softie and lazy Singaporeans are unable to do!! Have you forgotten , Mr leader, that WE voted you in and your party to take care of us and not FTs!

Anonymous said...

Ha! Ha! Ha!
The comparison of a leader and a father is very funny.

Yes, a leader is definitely not your father.

I googled Alexander the Great, and this is what I found.

"Alexander began his reign by having his potential rivals to the throne murdered.

He had his cousin, the former Amyntas IV, executed, as well as having two Macedonian princes from the region of Lyncestis killed, while a third, Alexander Lyncestes, was spared.

Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and her daughter by Philip, Europa, burned alive....."

Hyperlink source is -

Definitely dangerous to mistakenly confuse a leader with your father.

Anonymous said...

He said many more things over the years. Taken in totality, it helps us understand how he view Singaporeans.

Singaporean said...

I am finding that our ministers and MPs are no longer hard-driving and hard-striving.

They are also overpaid.

I'll like to stick my spurs into their thick hide.

I will vote very wisely in the next GE and no amount of cooling off will change my mind.

Anonymous said...

I think we need to admit the fact that we are getting more pampered. Our grandfathers worked harder than us. A lot of people want to work in a comfort environment. They shun away certain jobs which have to be taken up by foreigners.

Many Japanese work even longer hours than us, though unsure if is productive. At least, they put in more hours in workplace.

Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

Well, certainly that old man is not the father of anyone other than LHL and his siblings in that privileged family tree.

The point of my anaolgy, was that that old man can be still considered to be father of modern day singapore in metaphorical sense, therefore he ought to have some feelings for the welfare of its people, just as a father naturally wants to take care of his creation.

To be fair, fifty years ago, in creating the Singapore model, I think he was truly a good man fully consumed in trying to make singapore better, how to form a cohesive society, how to forge a common destiny. I dont think he was as vicious as Alexandra the Great... in his younger days his policy and vision, and government style was targetting at improving the lot of the locals, and worked pretty well ...even if he anihiliated political opponents.

Fifty years on, he has lost his mind totally this Christmas day 2009.

Many sufferings of singaporeans today are due to his bad judgement and self contradictory policies, in these latter days, but the most vicious and deplorable thing is that he turns around and makes a big sweeping statement that the laziness of Singaporeans is one of the root sources of the problem he and his team created unwittingly!!! With unaffordable HDB prices, with no minumum wage guarantees, no welfare, moving-time lines for old age cpf funds withdrawls, no protection for the ordinary citizens (remember Lehman).. where is the incentive to work hard any more? To make a lazy person work hard, you must provide an environment that makes Life meaningful, and an achievable, worthwhile challenge.

Alas, There is none in 2009.

Twenty years ago it was more meaningful to work hard. But now, you work till you die and cannot even claim your CPF, your own money - yet the government has billions of dollars in its coffers to "invest" with and play big and lose big. Not forgetting MM and his cronies get paid four five times of president Barrack Obama and then turns around and blames you for his bad judgements and policies.

How can he compare with China workers! There are pockets of comfort in many smaller cities in china where life is simple and sustainable. So the chinese workers are prepared to work hard in singapore, they have something to look forward to back home when they bring the money earned in Singapre to their loved ones. They have motivation to work.

We the citizens of Singapore, have none, today 2009.

My heart still bleeds as i reread his response to National Geographic, effectively blaming Singaporeans to be lazy, in front of American media. American has no idea what the heck is happening here, so they would believe his "Christmas day message" not understanding the deeper local issues enumerated above.

Maybe Dr Lee Wei Leng should say something. I enjoy reading her Sunday articles in the papers. She is the only person who makes sense in the family. She is the only one who rock that old man out of his madness and senility.


Anonymous said...

Foreign Investors will shy off investing if Singaporeans are portrayed as being lazy then what? bring in cheap Foreign Talents?

Probably the Big pay gap is the issue for being LAZY?........No Inscentive to work in a Rat Race city state as COST of LIVING beyong imagination.No quality of life for retirees to own car etc.. only hope as one migrant friend said: is t Expire peacfully!

Sylvester Lim said...

I have had enough of the old fart LKY and he should retire now while some people still think highly of him. Can I as a taxpayer sack him? oops, only the PAP can do it so they are responsible.

Ghim Moh Resident said...

Hi Mr Tan,

Merry Christmas to you.

Just want to comment on Singaporeans working hard.

Generally I find the older generations like my parents more hard working as they were borned in a tougher environment. I am sure you know it better than me about the past.

Nowadays, the younger generation were more materalistic and will work more if there is greater incentive.

My parents always work during Christmas and this year I decided to work on Christmas too but then it doesn't going to make me more hard working than my parents.

I work in an air-con environment, they don't. I start work at 9am, they start work at 6am. I end work at 6pm, they end work at 8pm.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tan

Thank you for speaking up. This is very important.

We do not expect our own leaders who talked down their own citizens in such demeaning manner.

Anonymous said...

As before, MM is trying to ''spur" Singaporeans forward. But difference this time is that it hit a raw nerve, during a time when Singaporeans are facing competition from foreigners in terms of employment, survival, cost of living, HDB prices, bread and butter issues etc etc.

Anonymous said...

I just want to people to look beyond the surface of certain issues. Like for example here in this statment:

"My parents always work during Christmas and this year I decided to work on Christmas too but then it doesn't going to make me more hard working than my parents.

I work in an air-con environment, they don't. I start work at 9am, they start work at 6am. I end work at 6pm, they end work at 8pm."

Hell... it may only be for wayang/show too!!

And it is also subjective, depending on the REWARDS/RETURNS one gets for putting in the extra hours!!

Example: Say Person A and Person B. If Person A gets $10 per hour and Person B gets $100 per hour, doing more or less the same type of tedious job. Don't you think that person B will definitely be more "spurred" and more "hard-striving and driving" to work longer hours?? Knowing that he can accumulate more returns before tiring himself out?

Another example, if Mr. C is paid $10,000 a day versus Mr. D who is paid $100 a day(or less). Who will be more motivated to work till he die?

But nowadays, its commonplace to see people working for less than $10 per hour salary. While some are paid unimaginable amount for that same hour...

Its about having the PURPOSE and the fair REWARDS that one can expect for working hard. But sadly, u know and I know, this is not happening for a great majority of us.

Anonymous said...

Mr Tan,

while I normally agree with most of your comments, this time - I DO Agree with MM Lee's comments (with regard to young Singaporeans). As a lecturer in a S'pore tertiary institution for more than 10 years, I can personally vouch for MM Lee's words. My S'porean students have generally become less hard-driving or "hungry" as compared to my foreign students. You cannot deny the truth - it's a result of GOOD LIFE in S'pore as compared to your generation or mine.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a good send off gift for the old gaffer would be to vote in the opposition for Tanjong Pagar GRC..
He's getting too old for the job..

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:18 PM

I don't think there are very low paying lecturers in a Singapore tertiary institution. There is a proper and decent pay scale.

Maybe like many elites and scholars, you are not (yet) a victim of the foreign "talent" influx.

By the way, are you local born?

Anonymous said...

"As a lecturer in a S'pore tertiary institution for more than 10 years"

How do you rate your work as far as the degree of hard-driving and hard-striving is concerned.

Anonymous said...

Well at least the oldman knows that many Singaporean are sick and tired of this so call "Foreign Talent". I wished Mr Tan K L is still with NTUC. At least I would have kept my call centre job. I speak 3 languages, Manderin, English and Malay and even cleared my BCP and PGI in one sitting but was told to go when my contract ended. I am not one of the model worker but I am very responsible and ensured that I am always in time ,never take any medical leave or urgent leave unnecessary and always do my work deligently . But in the end our FT get to keep their job though their salary is 1.8k and we "Singaporean" only 1.5k. So are we a lazy lot ya???? They always claimed Singaporean don't work to work and are choosy. On the contrary many of these FT has not only steal our rice bowl but also contributed to the ever escalating HDB prices.

Good luck Singaporean!

Anonymous said...

I am very sure this lecturer is another of our "Foreign Talent" import. What does he know about the general feeling outside. He is like a frog in the well only talking about his students.

Anonymous said...

To the $1.5K Singaporean who lost his job to the $1.8K Foreign talent.

Maybe your Singapore CPF contribution makes you more expensive?

Or maybe Singaporeans cannot emigrate so easily. Whereas newly imported Foreign Talent can easily go home if things are not so good in Singapore. So in order to maintain our newly acquired larger population size, better fix the Singaporeans first.

Anonymous said...

""To the $1.5K Singaporean who lost his job to the $1.8K Foreign talent.""

Sad story. Sympathise with you. For sporean, even if you r not working, you still have to spend, you cannot migrate, you cannot go away.

For FTs, If they are jobless, they will go home, and income from his rent, his food, his transport, his .... will be gone.
So it may still be better to keep the FTs than keeping sporean, even if the FTs' salary is slightly higher.

Anonymous said...

"To the $1.5K Singaporean who lost his job to the $1.8K Foreign talent."

Same story as you. However I lost mine before the festive season.

Anonymous said...

When Mas S... was re-arrested in Malaysia, one Minister while contacted chicken pox issued a statement from SGH urging Singaporean not to take peace and security in Singapore for granted though Mas S... had been arrested. I can also make such statement without millions dollars pay!

Anonymous said...

May be it is time to bring in some hard working foreign talent in our political team! Surely they do not get million dollars pay in their own country!

Anonymous said...

I begged to differ as regards to the reply regarding I did not get my contract renewed because of my expensive CPF. Actually I am already above 55 years old and my contribution is only minimum think only 4 to 5 %. The only reason i can think of is it could also because of my age and I did'nt toe the line like the FT did. Also this stupid Job Credit is of no help to us poor Singaporean. The money goes back to all the big MNC and the decisions lies in the big boss.....if he don;t like your face, good luck to you.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect? FT will prefer to hire FT. This is the norm. FT will be easier to control. FT is more willing to please the boss. FT gives less "trouble" and can be dealt with easily if they do. FT help FT. Period.

Anonymous said...

Just wanna say Kenny Nair to MM Lee.

Anonymous said...

We need a government who really care about its own citizens as well as the nation as a whole. Caring just for the Nation above the interests of its citizens has the impression of its leaders being self-serving as their pay is pegged to the GDP. PAP is really a People's party, why not peg some aspect of the average citizen's income to the PAP's ministers' paycheck?

Ghim Moh Resident said...

To Anonymous said...

December 26, 2009 5:56 PM

My parents have the choice to retire now and rest and relax but they didn't.

These type of hardworking attributes is instill in some of our older generations. I give them full respect for it.

I forget to add further my parents who is now in their late fifties rest only a day in a week (Monday) while I rest on every sat, sun and public holidays.

Ghim Moh Resident said...

Anonymous said...
December 26, 2009 5:56 PM

Example: Say Person A and Person B. If Person A gets $10 per hour and Person B gets $100 per hour, doing more or less the same type of tedious job. Don't you think that person B will definitely be more "spurred" and more "hard-striving and driving" to work longer hours?? Knowing that he can accumulate more returns before tiring himself out?

Answer from me: Person A will be more hardworking and spurred because Person A needs to work more hours to catch up. Person B can be more slack, less hard-working because Person B is paid more.

By the way, this can be a good economic thesis for final year undergraduates.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps, a few years down the road, another apology will be made for a mistake made... and all will be forgotten... while many would have been disadvantaged by the policy of the day.

Anonymous said...

Swinging my vote definitely.
They must be kept in check.
Their heads getting bigger by the minute.

Blog Archive