Tuesday, June 15, 2010


There is a controversy in the Straits Times about an article written by a journalist arguing that we should accept the "safe-to-fail" situation. Some readers said that it would lead to complacency.

I wish to share my view. "Safe-to-fail" does not necessary lead to complacency. We do what we can, and do not have to over-worry about the unlikely events, if these events do not lead to disaster. This will foster a spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurship.

We have a weakness in Singapore which has been described as the "kiasu" attitude. It is an attitude of extreme caution that lead to the unwillingness to take responsibility, and waiting for the boss to decide. This pervades many stratas of our society, including the mindset of our leaders.

It is time for us to be bold and be willing to change. I am not advocating complaceny, but a balanced approach towards making changes.

Tan Kin Lian


Anonymous said...

Rex comments as follows,

A practical application of "safe to fail" for consideration:

Question: Is it safe to vote more oppostion parties into parliament, not being sure of their experience and capability?

The Not Safe-to-Fail (aka "kiasu") proponent: die die must vote PAP, can't accept anything not tried out before, very dangerous. Anybody not PAP, too green, knows nothing much just talk but no practical answer.

The Safe-to-Fail proponent: It's ok to try. We must learn to take responsiblity. There is always a first time, even if we have never done anything before. Have faith in people. Have a balanced approach in judging people. We will succeed.


Tan Kin Lian said...

Hi Rex

If we have a Parliament comprising of elected people from various parties, and the elected people represents the views of the people, it is quite safe and is likely to lead to a better outcome.

Even the PAP, if they remain in power, will change their policies to be better for the people.

Anonymous said...

"Safe to fail" is already in practice in Singapore. Just look at the people running GIC and Temasek. There is also a minimum wage in Singapore too, but only for ministers and MPs.

Anonymous said...

i think if u hold a 2 million per annum job, it is safer for the boss to decide.

Anonymous said...

I think you have to understand when one pays top dollar for supposed quality on people are in governance position, is it too much to ask for 'market-oriented' results i.e. fail-to-safe (or rather near guarantee)? If not, then clearly there should not be a free lunch for there should not be rewards that commensurate with little/ no risk for those in governance

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