Excerpts from the brainSTORM session held on 8 July at the Chicago Booth School Of Business. The topic: Is Singapore Ready?
In decades past the Singaporean people and its government have worked to ensure growth and prosperity. In our pursuit of economic success and financial stability, what has been forgotten?
“If you take Singapore as a company and Singaporeans as the shareholders, it is good for us to generate income for the benefit of all the shareholders. We are the beneficiaries of the wealth of the nation; it is not a bad idea to accumulate a reserve for future generations. The prevailing attitude has always been to prepare for the rainy day.” — K.C. Lau, Chartered Accountant
“The premise of treating the country as a company is one we should really move away from. We are a society and we should see ourselves as such. If not, everything becomes about money, there is no more humanity. Is that the country we want? I’m not saying we don’t need money, but that should not be the central focus anymore.” — P.N. Balji, Political and Media Commentator
“Decision makers continue to think that the best way to make Singapore thrive is to make money. In their attempt to care for the nation, they have sometimes failed to care for the people. It has become a case of putting the nation above its people. We have come a long way, but we have to ask ourselves what’s next. Are we just aiming for incremental progress or (hopefully) visionary progress? If we view Singapore as a company, the company must succeed for the employees to get money. Is money all we need? People also want to be happy and proud of what they do, we also need this important human element. We have to make that shift.” — Michael Tay, Founder, Foundation for the Arts and Social Enterprise
“For the last 50 years, we have been brought up in a society that has fixed boundaries on how performance and success is measured — largely on academic merits, and economic-led, quantitative type ‘KPIs’. While economic success and national excellence is critical, we have forgotten to develop in parallel a society that is high on civil awareness and social consciousness; we have not, on a broad level, achieved a society that looks at success from a qualitative standpoint. That makes us excel but perhaps not in the multidimensional way that encourages creativity, adaptability, agility. Our youth are affected by this, the core educational system and the rigid definition of success mean that they won’t be equipped with the thinking or the skills to go out there and challenge the norm unless we address this full-heartedly now.” — Suguna Madhavan, Technopreneur /Innovation Mentor/ Founder, Firesong Initiatives
More coverage in STORM V28 out next month.