Sunday, January 31, 2010

Small country can find its niche

Hi Mr. Tan,
In view of global competition and Singapore's small size, is it really possible for Singapore and its citizens to slow down?

Can we really afford to work at a much slower pace like the Europeans? Isn't it better to work hard and hence improve our learning curve on how to work more efficiently and effectively? Can one learn how to be more efficient and effective by working at a slower pace? (I do agree that balance is good, but can we afford to do so?)

Will the MNCs choose Singapore over China or their home countries if we do not offer them a competitive advantage?

While a lot of Singaporeans would like to have a "slower pace" of lifestyle. In the long term, can we really afford to do so? If we do so, will we need to return to Malaysia?

I am really not sure. It is a 
constant dilemma. Competition vs Coorperation. Environmental Conservation vs Rapid growth and innovation. Drive and Industry vs Balance and Comfort.

But I am sure about a few things:

1. We need to have the best brains to run the country - Especially for a small country like Singapore. Let's face it. Some people can never think as well as others. Even if the desire to serve at the top level is strong. One has to realize his strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, it might bring about long term and irrecoverable damage to the country. But whether or not, the best brains' values and attitude towards certain things need to be changed, I'm not sure. Maybe that can be improved on.

2. Unnecessary and excessive competition that leads to resource wastage and detoriation of ethics should be frown upon.

Mr. L

There are many small countries in Europe and they do well without using the competitive policies that are adopted in Singapore. I think that a small country can do well by finding its niche.


Anonymous said...

REX comments as follows,

And i think a small country must not 不自量力that is to say, small country must realise it's limitations and not to act as if it is a big big country.
The case in point is Singapore's size which most definitely should not have to grow to 5 or 6 million, this inevitably strains the resources twice or more, increases competition and friction amongst the citizens, and worst still survivability becomes more difficult in the medium and long term future.
Small country can have success if it realsies the above limitations and acts within its boundaries so that the per capita real gain of teh population is somewhat constant and people are generally satisfied.
Singapore was a much happier place when the population was about 3 million, roads are less crowded, life is much less competitive, and yes, there was much more of Nature and greenery instead of condo's all over the place. It was a really tragic mistake of the govt to embark on a policy of packing more sardines into this tin box. I suspect it is something to do with more money, the more people there are the more money there is, in the short term, but they have miscalculated for short term gains vs long term disaster.


Anonymous said...

The critical policy failure in the past 5 years is that the population growth brought about by the FT policy has greatly exceeded what key public services in Singapore can support.

As a result of this, we have a fully formed asset bubble in the housing market.

Riding our MRT/buses has become cramped and uncomfortable. As a result of this, an increasing number of Singaporeans and middle income foreigners have switched to using cars and taxis, putting even more pressure on our congested roads.

There has been a very lively and vibrant national debate on this and related issues. Mr Tan's blog has a large archive of very good articles that discuss the issues in detail.

Other good sites to read and understand the issues are:

Most importantly, MM Lee has acknowledged the issues raised as policy failures that need to be fixed.

“We’ve grown in the last five years by just importing labour. Now, the people feel uncomfortable, there are too many foreigners. Trains are overcrowded with foreigners, buses too, property prices have gone up because foreigners with permanent residence are buying into the market. ” - MM Lee 28 Jan 2010 Straits Times

Anonymous said...

I think the govt has calculated that to have 5% or more GDP growth annually, Singapore really needs foreigners until population is 6.5 million. Of course they cannot keep on increasing after that.

Another thing is we may not be able to choose the type of foreigners that we want. These better quality foreigners will find places like Canada, Australia or NZ more attractive than here.

And even those who come here some may treat Singapore as a springboard to these more preferred countries.

Hence we end up with many 2nd or 3rate foreigners. But we have no choice.

So the GDP growth is driven more by quantity rather than quality. Without enough quality it is difficult to have productivity as well and this has dropped as shown by data. This is not a desirable situation for the long term.

I think the govt has been and is still figuring out how to tackle this problem and apparently they do not have a solution until now, million dollar salaries for top talent ministers not withstanding.

Anonymous said...

The standard of service has gone down
The relaxed immigration policies have allowed many people to come into the country.

One method is to enroll into a private school as a private student and get a student pass. Just $12K and after a year, qualify for PR status! simple!
To add insult, they enroll into programmes that is funded by tax payer dollars ( WDA-WSQ ).

Then they join the workforce with a diploma and beat the locals hands down in terms of salary.

This in turn will result in poor english spoken and poor service.

we reap what we sowed.

Anonymous said...

The population has gone up by leaps and bounds, but not the
infrastructure and public facilities, we feel cramped everywhere, have problems getting
appointments in the restructured
hospitals, being pushed around in the MRT trains, almost impossible
to get a parking lot in Govt carparks without waiting for ages.
Life is really tough and stressful.

Anonymous said...

But you also need to bear in mind that FTs heading to Australia and Canada for work may need to pay A$40k or C$40k to the Migration Agent as well. So people who go to these countries for work need to borrow more money.

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