News and views from an unique perspective

Singapore is a country, not a company

Posted by temasektimes on June 22, 2012

I understand what Old Guard is conveying, ie. from his experience, foreigners have more drive than locals and he therefore prefer to hire the former. This is exactly the same sentiment LKY conveyed some time back too, when he said that the locals lack spurs to succeed.

I also have no doubt that, in general, when you’re in a faraway land, to earn a living to feed a family back home or to establish yourself by gaining some working experience, you’ll also work your butts off.

However, Singapore is a country, not a company.

If Singapore were just a company, then Old Guard’s point is perfectly valid. Heck, I’d say he should go much further — deport the terminally sick and the old from the country, replace them with higher productivy resources. Open the floodgates further to the world, ater all, there’s always a better manager or entrepreneur out there. In fact, if Old Guard were to compete on a barrierless worldwide basis, I’m sure there’s someone better than him out there, who’s possibly cheaper as well and I’m sure he too can be replaced. Just like I can be replaced, or LHL can too. After all, no one is indispensable.

But Singapore is a country, not a company. To me, that’s the difference.

There’s a reason why Singapore male citizens are made (yes, made) to serve NS. Its to defend the country. What does that mean? When it comes to the crunch, when Singapore is at the verge and no one is streaming in anymore, it is hoped that the roots will be strong enough that Singaporeans not just stay, but be prepared to give up their lives to defend their country. It is “understood” that all the foreign talents who flocked to the country when good times are rolling will have left, but it is hoped that the locals who call this place a HOME will stay.

With this in mind, do you now see the difference?

If there’s any fault with the new generation, then surely part of the blame has to go to the older generation (and society at large) on how they raised the new generation and inbube the right values. If all of the new generation is like Wee Siew Khim’s daughter’s “get out of my elitist face” attitude, then there’s something we need to correct. Not just give up on that generation and say, open the floodgates, let foreigners in.

Its just like if you have kids. Yes, he’s not the smartest, the most hardworking, the most driven person in his class. Maybe he’s playful too, easily distracted. If Old Guard’s family were a company, he should simply disown such children, sponsor the top student of that cohort.

To me, that’s what the discontent about foreigners in recent years boils down really to. If this is my home, and the place in which I’m rooted, then why is there no place for me to earn a decent living. Why isn’t the govt “protecting” me, not so much to make life cushy for me, but make it a level playing field? We’re not asking for much, just for the govt to do what other govts do for their citizens (yes, CITIZENS)? Is it all my fault, as the govt alleges; or has some fundamental mistake been made?


*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times.


36 Responses to “Singapore is a country, not a company”

  1. pay said

    One word. Sovereignty.

  2. david drucker said

    Get foreigner talent to train our talent, not geting foreigner talent to replace our talent!

    God is perfect, and yet still there are people do not like God.
    Similarly, foreign talent may not match the country if he is not loyal, if he is selfish, if he unkind!
    Running country is more complex than running a company.

    Get foreigner talent to train our talent, not geting foreigner talent to replace our talent! This is the way that many country should do it!

  3. Anonymous said

    “Its just like if you have kids. Yes, he’s not the smartest, the most hardworking, the most driven person in his class. Maybe he’s playful too, easily distracted. If Old Guard’s family were a company, he should simply disown such children, sponsor the top student of that cohort.”

    No to both. He must think of a way to re-educate his kids, in the meantime, exploit the external source.

  4. hihihi said

    One shame guy said it’s not a country.

  5. Global competition for jobs in Singapore applies to everybody else except themselves. It is clear now that there is one rule for them, another for the rest of us. This is consistent in many other things they do. Just observe around you.

  6. Ben said

    yes singapore is a company but the ruling party is treating it like a company

  7. Jardel said

    Dear parent, just vote PAP out lah. Simple. LHL will die soon. He is already 89. With the current calibre of PAP “leaders”, the political climate will change sooner than later. PAP knows this. There is a power struggle or change of opinion within that party. You cannot expect one to stay stable for too long, even by paying their own lackeys millions of dollars.

    So, if you want to be the catalyst, then vote them out!!! Only after that will changes be made and perhaps our voices be heard.

  8. Unknow said

    Well said!

  9. stevenado said

    Well Said,Well Done! Shame on those don’t understand or choose not to!

  10. Jack said

    Welcome to Singapore Inc.

  11. Mike Zeng said

    Yes indeed…..when the most powerful Old Guard stated publicly decades ago that his lowly citizens are mere digits, he was thinking of a company not a country! And of course he was the CEO of that company and now his first -born is. Still company? More like monarchy!

  12. Steve Lee said

    Well said. Thank you.

  13. Adrian Pang said

    SPOT ON New Guard’s Parent!

  14. Julie Ong said

    Thanks A New Guard’s Parent. You are right. Especially when you said that no one is indispensable. I would hasten to agree with you that I am the most dispensable. Get rid of me today and you will find someone else tomorrow. No sweat. Difference is this: it would be extremely difficult, probably impossible to find somebody so good looking! Foreign talent is good and in some specialized field even essential. They add to our skill and professionalism. Foreign workers (work permit holders) augment our labour pool in sectors where there is a need and locals cannot or will not fill. This was the way before the fiasco of the Great FT Import. Indeed we should not run a country like a company.Profit is the foremost motive of a company or commercial enterprise.Citizens make up a country and the onus is on any government to look after its people without partiality or exception.Therefore we need local skilled workers, professionals as well as those Singaporeans to do the ordinary jobs such as waiting, cleaning, etc to keep the country going.Retrenching the low skill or unskilled Singaporean for a cheaper foreign worker is simply wrong, whatever the argument. There’s got to be a better way. So my humble submission to all and sundry: Singaporean First Then
    Foreign Worker.

  15. Joe said

    Well said, and fully agreed. The points raised by “Old Guard” said, are all about money, bottom-line, dollars and cents. But running a country is NOT as simple as that. If it is, then we don’t need politicians or scholars.

  16. hachoo said

    Local Singaporean are being treated like cattles in New Zealand. Being herd around to where to be feed and be slaughtered for profits. At least the cattles are well fed before they got slaughtered.

    If you think harder, the discountinued of using dialects was one way to cut off effective communications between the older generation and the younger one. i.e. old story can’t be passed down effectively hence using all the propoganda to brain wash the younger generation (Speak Mandarin campaign was one way to do so). Now there is talk of using dialects to bond the generation gap ! Another roti prata policy just like the birth control policy then.

    Singapore is a country indeed ! Employee leaves when a company is not doing well but citizen will bond together and fight. Question is whether this country is worth fighting for if the pro-FT policy continues.

  17. Free Trolley said

    “If Singapore were just a company, then Old Guard’s point is perfectly valid. Heck, I’d say he should go much further — deport the terminally sick and the old from the country, replace them with higher productivy resources.”

    Refer to the proposal to send our elderly to Malaysia.

  18. haha said

    Thank you very much, i was starting to think that no one treats this place as a country anymore and are all after their own benefits and jobs. Old guard is one such selfish person who only thinks in the scope of the workforce, but which one comes first? The workforce/economy or the country/citizens? Couldn’t have compared this in a better way than you did, *applaud* !

  19. Victor said

    Simply said, if the government do not take care of it’s citizens first, then, whatever they do will not be right….. Period

  20. bb said

    I can understand not all gov polices are perfect but do they monitor and fine tuned-once it’s cook they just leave to overcook. Any policy has upsides(advantages) and downsides risk(disadvatages)-downsides is oftened overlooked because the boss thinks it is not a problem.

    Eg stop at 2 policy provided it is implemented with full monitoring of the consequences-no one do it including the one who mooted the idea. The fertility rate does not dropped overnight-it is dropping since the 1st day of implementation. They forget to look at the graph with upper and lower bound curve. Polices subsequently to encourage to improve on the fertitltiy rate but to no avail and now put on the blame on sg ppl instead of blaming polices that needs to be revised.

    I suspect it is the PM has mooted the FT policies, since it was implemented in 2006. Also similar to the population policy, he is undo what his father has done- but forget about the downsides risk. I am sure civil servants in opertaing the front line will have detected some of these problems but afraid to report up or fallen on deaf ears. This happens too the GFC-you mean to tell me none of the central bank is completely ignorance of the sub prime loans. The downside risks is disastrous- SMRT breakdown, overcrowding, couples unable to get HDB flat, propety prices inflated, increase in FATAL accidents, flooding(to increase the capacity of water because of population).

    When criticisms from sg ppl is alarming, the usual sg style of the gov is to defend the policy irrespective whether it is sound. So old man come out and defends his son but in awkward manner as he is the one not feeling the pain and only mentioned the upsides of FT forgetting all about downsides.

    I was watching CNA from overseas on the flooding of Sg and I surprised to see a person who is not trained in engineering(beside him is a civil engineer) commented that no amount of engineering can solved the flood problem. This is a nonsensical as money is only the constrained. This statement does aroused some suspicious. Could it be the gov engineers have briefed to the top that to be flood prone it costs $X billion extra for the Marina BarrAGE. Some idiot ministers must have taken the risks and take the easy way out and could remark some flooding will not killed anyone. This is no vision minister because he can not see the downside risks.

    • DIY said

      Yes, money is no problem, but the engineering part is the problem. There are lots of constraint in a built-up areas like Orchard Road. You can design big drains for a 100-years storm, and theoretically the size will be 100 m wide and 5 m deep.

      However the canal at Orchard Road will be a white elephant because when there is a drought some overseas viewer would say, ‘Silly type of government, why wait for big flood to happen in 100 year’. Shorten the drain at 3m x 3m and nothing will happen again. Hey Presto, I solve the problem by magic.

      So, the moral of the story is ‘Do you believe in what you see or do you seem to know what you are ignorant of’.

      • Ray said

        There is also another constraint – brain matter

      • DIY said

        We can import brain matter. If you surf google and type search engine at CIA, World Facts and Figures. Scroll to Singapore drop-list and study the statistics. For agriculture it is zero (0) We practically import our goods all over the world. Why not the brain for that matter?

  21. Adrian said

    This strikes an uncomfortable cord in history, when the British ruled Singapore, and even foreign rulers abandoned us, not to say ordinary foreigners working in Singapore. Great article!

    • DIY said

      The British Empire – what a great way to survive. From the Indian sub-continent and the rest of the colonies the Englishman made headway in the economic well-being for their British subjects. But the maintenance cost to provide security and peace was astronomical.

      When we gain independence we survived on D.I.Y. method. From ‘World Facts and Figures’ we have zero (0) for agriculture. Singapore has to import all our good for our consumption.
      We have to be competitive and to find niches wherever possible. We have to be vigilance and careful on our spending.

      Discovery Channel 2011 mentioned that the total maintenance cost for the Smart Island is a staggering SG$180b per year.

  22. Geo said

    I remember the movie called Logan’s Run……where all people regardless of who you are…rich or poor, healthy or sick….once reach age of 30 will be put to death…………

    Above 50s Singaporean…..once out of job….it’s like that…… more hope however qualified or experienced you are…only those with some friends connections get helps……….it’s time the Government takes deep and hard look into this and comes up with good alternatives………planning..

    • DIY said

      When you watch National Geographic channel in the Serengeti Plains of Africa, there are lots of drama between prey and predator. Predictably amongst the wildebeest/ zebra/ cape buffaloes absence are the sick, maimed or slow animals. Why? The answer is survival of the fittest. in the animal kingdom, the sick and maimed will be devoured by the predator.

      In human society, the handicapped, destitute, retarded, incapacitated, mentally sick and the chronically ill are being looked after by charitable organizations.

      We are human and society take care all those not in the category of ‘not the fittest’.

      Basically we are the ‘economic animals’, where education, work, play and family engagements are part of our social needs. This is where planning plays a part for old age. Otherwise we cannot cope with our economic well-being. To sustain in the later years is quite painful when you don’t have enough ‘nest eggs’.

      I empathise with you.

  23. mahbok tan said

    To New guard’s parent , thanks and hopefully they repent before being laid to rest ….!!!

    That’s what we SGporeans are thinking and keep on shouting to them….but will they listen and learned???

    Pray hard that we can have a new Changes in the GOVT come 2016 and we can see the difference with a new team of local talent instead of importing from Malaysia…..!!!

  24. Well said and very good metaphorically.

    I remember once when PM LHL was giving a speech very early on in his career
    stating that we cannot only built on logic alone. There is an “X” Factor too that goes beyond logic.
    He seemed to realize it back than. But somehow down the road he’d seem to have forgotten about the “X” Factor.

    The old guards of our nation (first generation PAP) I must admit did do good for the betterment of it’s citizens.
    It fell apart in the mid-80’s due to economical numbers that don’t add up.
    Instead of reconfiguring the numbers with it’s citizens in mind, the government decided to follow the “Reaganomics” system.
    Which was initiated by the than PM Goh CT. Reaganomics was a good system “IF” it was followed diligently.

    But guess what? Reaganomics has an “X” Factor too. And this “X” Factor is in us all as human being.
    The Reaganomics X-Factor was and still is….GREED.
    Greed was allowed to manifest.
    Hence, the world is in the present state of affair.

    Too look up on what Reaganomics is. Here is a site to get you started.

  25. Ron said

    Sigh. The past policies are now creating so much hurt, frustration and anger. Stop at 2, marry upwards, high pay, more FTs, etc. Policies may seem right for a while but their long term impacts manifest themselves after many years and are hard to reverse.

    Spore can afford to lose billions in foreign investments and yet when its servicemen and NS personnel die during service, so little is done for their families. There should be lifelong assistance and generous compensation for their parents.

  26. jaceline said

    Yes, fully agree. If our own government do not even protect his own citizens, who will protect them? Just like if own family members do not protect each other, the outsiders will?

  27. Iceman said

    With the introduction of FTs … The local elitists have changed to be more “CHIM” in Life & have lost touch with our own locals of their natural values & roots.

  28. Ray said

    Well, if they want to run it as a company, then you should respond as ‘stakeholders’. Should Obama and Clinton lose the US elections, we can hire them to replace LHL and co! Maybe also hire Tony Blair and Kevin Rudd! They should be much cheaper and better!

  29. george said

    ” If this is my home, and the place in which I’m rooted, then why is there no place for me to earn a decent living. Why isn’t the govt “protecting” me, not so much to make life cushy for me, but make it a level playing field? We’re not asking for much, just for the govt to do what other govts do for their citizens (yes, CITIZENS)? Is it all my fault, as the govt alleges; or has some fundamental mistake been made? ”

    The sad fact is that the govt expect citizens to sacrifice themselves for the country should it come to that. But, does not see itself responsible to ensure that every citizen feels that he/she is being taken care of in good times and bad. In fact, the immigration floodgate was opened WITHOUT any consideration for how this policy would affect citizens at the bottom and middle segments of the population. You get the feeling that the govt also expects you to sacrifice your well being and your family’s well being for the entire sake of its GDP numbers. Any different from being treated like sacrificial lambs for the govt’s sake. The Nordic countries articles in the ST truly exposes how self serving the govt has been for the past several decades at the expense of the citizens. There is no love or even a little expression of care on its part when we see our old folks trying to eek out a living cleaning up at hawker centres and food courts or salvaging cardboard and empty drink cans on the streets.
    But on the other hand why a VIP wife was sick overseas, an entire Boeing 747 was converted into a flying ambulance with a full complement of doctors and nurses to fly her back thousands of miles from overseas. Can the discrepancy be more stark than this?

    • Mike Zeng said

      It was the fmr MM’s wife Kwa Geok Choo who was flown home as the only passenger in a Boeing 747….large and wide enough to house a special hospital bed and the other ancillaries. Must have cost at least $10 million for such a special flight. But LKY did say he paid for all of it. He surely can with his pay of $4 million p.a.
      As for the rest of us lesser mortals and peasants…..the PAP Govt will simply tell you……you die your business!
      I suppose it was worth the 10 million$$$$$$$$ as she survived another 2 years. Had she not been flown home, she would likely have demised in London early….methinks.

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