Guard against outdated PAP mindset

I refer to the 5 Oct 2014 Straits Times letter “Guard against dependency mindset” by Mr Lee Yong Se.

It is precisely because success, prosperity and comfort haven’t permeated all segments of society there is a clamour for greater wealth distribution.

The lack of a large hinterland and the lack of natural resources aren’t harsh realities but neutral or favorable realities that have either aided Singapore or did not hold us back.

If we compare small population economies (defined as less than 10 million population) against large population economies (defined as 10 million population or more), the percentage of small population economies achieving World Bank’s High Income status classification is nearly twice that of large population economies. It seems therefore that prosperity is easier achieved for small population economies than for large population economies. Smallness has been an advantage, not a hindrance to our prosperity.

World Bank Data Population less than 10 million Population 10 million or more
Number of High Income economies 55 19
Number of Not High Income economies 73 67
Total 128 86
Percentage 43% 22%

Similarly, if we compare economies deriving less than 5% of its GDP from natural resources against economies deriving 5% or more of its GDP from natural resources, we find that the percentage of the former group achieving World Bank’s High Income status classification is similarly more than twice that for the latter group. So again, it seems that prosperity is easier achieved for economies deriving less than 5% of its GDP from natural resources than for economies deriving 5% or more of its GDP from natural resources. The absence of natural resources hasn’t been a hindrance to us.

World Bank Data Less than 5% GDP from natural resources 5% or more GDP from natural resources
Number of High Income economies 61 13
Number of Not High Income economies 82 58
Total 143 71
Percentage 43% 18%

Our so-called increased social safety net is still far below those enjoyed by Western nations, how can such inadequate increase in social safety net lead to the impression that industriousness isn’t as necessary as before?

Mr Lee should understand that diligence alone will no longer guarantee Singapore’s continued prosperity. More and more, prosperity depends on creativity which doesn’t thrive in a hand-to-mouth existential situation but in a situation where Maslow’s lower hierarchical needs have been satisfied.

If Mr Lee is so anxious that we have a system that rewards hard work and not handouts, he should ask the government to clamp down on incidences where a Town Council’s software system can be sold to a $1 PAP linked company at significant discount.

There are welfare-centric Western countries in economic quagmire; there are also welfare-centric Western countries with strong economies. So what lesson can be drawn from Western countries other than the fact that welfare doesn’t necessarily lead to economic quagmire or eroded work ethics?

Straits Times, Guard against dependency mindset, 5 Oct 2014

IN HIS commentary last Saturday, Professor Kishore Mahbubani touched on the issue of future-proofing Singapore by building a wise citizenry (“To future-proof the country, build a wise citizenry”). Aside from this, we also need to guard against a dependency mindset.

The success and prosperity we are enjoying now confer on us a certain level of comfort, with some quarters clamouring for more wealth distribution.

Unlike other cities with a large hinterland to fall back on, the harsh reality for us is that we are just a tiny island-state with no natural resources.

With increased spending in recent years to create more social safety nets, some quarters may get the impression that industriousness is not as necessary as before.

Such an insidious mindset must not be allowed to take root here. It is only with a diligent workforce that we can earn the right to exist as a prosperous city-state.

For its part, the Government must ensure a system that duly rewards those who are willing to work, instead of one that encourages dependency on handouts.

We can draw lessons from some Western countries whose eroded work ethics have left them in a quagmire, and guard against taking that route – to future-proof Singapore.

Lee Yong Se

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: