Singapore needs to raise its game

I refer to the report “Singapore needs to raise its game” by Ms Clarissa Oon (Straits Times, 30 May 2009). In the report, Mr Lim Swee Say urged Singapore engineers to be the best engineers in the world.

What can the best engineer amount to without the best company? Nothing much really. The best companies attract the best engineers and the best engineers go to the best companies. So it is not about becoming the best engineers, it is about nurturing the best companies, something that the PAP government has neglected all this while.

The over-reliance on foreign multinationals has meant that Singapore never really outgrew its manufacturing role. The foreign multinational tells us what to make and how to make them and we make them. We never learnt to make things for ourselves. That’s why we have always been stuck at first gear. Our so-called moving up the value chain is nothing more than doing more of the same thing. Who to blame but the PAP?

Mr Lim says that China is politically stable despite not having any elections. What about North Korea? No elections, politically unchanging yet a time bomb nonetheless to all its neighbours. So political monopoly does not imply stability. Political monopoly means that the country can be easily dragged down by a selfish despot.

Mr Lim says that India is politically less stable despite elections. Changes in political leadership does not imply that the country is politically less stable. The fact that the country and its economy can continue unaffected shows that there is political stability despite political changes, much like that in America, Japan and elsewhere.

While it appears that Singapore may have the best of both worlds, the truth may be otherwise. Myanmmar has elections too. But after elections, Aung Sang Su Ki is still locked away and the military junta is still running the country. What is the point of such elections? As good as no elections.

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