Refutting George Yeo

I refer to the 18 Oct 2014 Straits Times report “S’poreans ‘can weather calls for welfarism’”.

A good number of the wealthiest economies in the world are small, often smaller than Singapore. Macau, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Hong Kong are small wealthy economies without natural endowments. They all have nothing on ground, in land or underwater. Yet they are amongst the wealthiest in this world. It’s about time former minister George Yeo correct his mistaken notion that wealth must come from the ground, land or underwater.

Unfortunately for Singaporeans, the government’s balance isn’t between spending today and saving for the future as Mr Yeo puts it, but between spending and squandering on ill fated investments.

I refer too to excerpts from the 18 Oct 2014 Straits Times report “S’pore well placed to adapt to new world order: George Yeo”.

Considering that print media continues to be Singaporeans’ main source of news, the capacity to distort and to manipulate information lies mainly in the hands of print media.

Newspapers still dominate, but more readers go online: Survey

SINGAPORE – PRINT newspapers remain the staple source of news for most readers, with 68.4 per cent of people in Singapore reading a hard-copy local newspaper every day … It found that more than seven in 10 people in Singapore read newspapers daily, whether in print or online … And 85 per cent read them at least once a week … The Straits Times remains the most-read title, reaching around 34.3 per cent of the population every day … It was followed by Today, with 18.1 per cent readership … The Internet is used by 66.6 per cent of the population daily, up from 62.3 per cent last year …And 36 per cent read news online at least once a month.

[Straits Times, ST still Spore’s most-read, 5 Nov 2012]

Straits Times, S’poreans ‘can weather calls for welfarism’, 18 Oct 2014

ALTHOUGH striking a balance between government spending and savings will remain a political challenge, Singaporeans are pragmatic enough to weather growing calls for welfarism, said former foreign minister George Yeo yesterday.

He gave this assurance to an audience member at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy’s 10th anniversary conference who had asked how the country would deal with demands that the Government spend more.

“For as long as Singaporeans think the Government is rich, they will say, ‘Look, pass some over’,” he said to laughter. “But in fact, we’ve nothing. We’ve only a small island. We’ve no natural endowments, and what we have – I do not know how many hundred billion dollars we have – even if you double it, what is that compared with what others have in ground, in land, underwater?”

The Government needs to strike a balance between spending on today’s generation and saving for future generations, he said. This is a political challenge every generation of Singaporeans has to contend with, said Mr Yeo, who left politics after his team lost Aljunied GRC in the 2011 polls.

But he is confident Singaporeans’ practical view of the world will see them through. “They know that ‘if I don’t get a good education, I’ll be in trouble. And I’d better save for a rainy day’.”

Straits Times, Excerpts from S’pore well placed to adapt to new world order: George Yeo, 18 Oct 2014

Sparking this change is social media that has kept people informed but also distorts, and is sometimes deliberately manipulated. Access to information because of the digital revolution has also played a part in causing the corrosion of hierarchies, as those at the top find their authority and knowledge questioned and challenged by those below across all manner of relationships and institutions.

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