Committee for Future Economy – CFE

It is very easy to make comments about the CFE reports. Just sit down and put a comb over it to pick put the white hair and the fleas and dust. It is also just as easy to make 7 or 10 motherhood statements about what should be done in the future. Just gather a few heads and within a day or two you could get all the motherhood statements you want. The big question, how real and how useful are these motherhood statements?

To gaze at a crystal ball, to foresee the trends, developments and challenges, is not the normal cup of tea for anyone not armed with the width and depth of intellect to look into the future. You need very serious thinkers and dreamers to make out something from nothing or from what we have today. Who would be up to it to make such great insights into the future and come out with workable recommendations to benefit from the changes? If only you can find someone who could make the right intellectual and educated guesses, this guy would be as good as God.

As a small little country with limited resources and limited aspirations, we need to be real and practical about what we want to do and what we can do. No doubt having big and wild dreams and wet dreams are ok, as these are just dreams. It is better to look at more realistic and practical targets and solutions like capitalising on our strength and how to fit into the changing world, and make the best of it. We have several good starts but due to the lack of foresight, the lack of dreamers, the lack of support, we let them passe. Sim Wong Hoo’s sound card was at the fore front of the computer industry. Hyflux’s water purification system too was well ahead of its time. Now they are just ordinary, one among many and fading away. If only the govt had invested and supported them in bigger ways, they could be the Samsung or the Xiaomi today. Samsung and Xiaomi did not have any proprietory products to start with. They simply copied and improved on what others have done and make it big time. We were the leading transportation hub for many decades but now going to be eclipsed too.

A more down to earth and more mundane model to understand how we have gone wrong and missed the opportunities, and missed the boat is public transportation, the train. When we laid the ground work for the first MRT, China was still an impoverished country. Transportation in China was Second WW train system, running like tortoises on coal. Today China is the front runner in high speed train system, an authority and a big mover in building international train network and infrastructure. They have developed many in house expertise and patents in every aspect of the train system, from design to manufacturing, turnkey projects to operations. They are building the train infrastructure for the future and for the world.

What have we achieved in managing our train network? What have we achieved for having a head start in mass rapid transport? Nothing. We are still struggling to make sure the train runs without fault daily. We did not have any expertise in anything concerning mass rapid transport. When a fault occurs, we start looking out for outside expertise for help, even stupid enough to pay for expertise from third world dysfunctional train systems calling themselves experts in modern train technology. We have not acquired any expertise in mass rapid transportation to turn it into a business except as an operator. After 50 years in the business, no experts in the business.

This example applies to practically every industry. Should not Singapore be exporting our expertise with our own experts in areas of air and sea port management and development? No, we are dependent on foreigners to run our ports, to manage our ports, to find new directions for our ports. We have zero expertise to talk about when we have been big operators for decades ahead of other countries. We are top air and sea ports but have no expert in these fields.

Look at the banking and finance industry. This is another joke. We are the financial centre of Southeast Asia and competing with Tokyo and Hongkong to be the top financial centre of Asia. Ask what kind of expertise we have, what kind of local experts and professionals we have that are sought after by other financial centres? It is a joke that we have to import all our top financial talents from abroad, even from the third world countries with rudimentary financial system and village banks. Soon there will be no local bankers left in the finance industry and all the top bankers would be foreigners. And I remember someone saying we are starting to develop our top bankers that would come on stream in 50 years time. No need to talk about the IT industry.

What is this CFE all about? Should we be bothered with gazing at the crystal ball of the future? How could such an exercise benefit the country and people when there are very serious challenges facing the country that no one could see or want to talk about? We may not have a thriving Singapore in another 30 years if we don’t address the serious fundamental problems of the country and the shallow mindset that is supposed to be driving the country forward. We have happily awarded the contract to build the HSR terminal to foreign contractors when we should be building it ourselves and bidding for such contracts overseas like the Korean companies. Maybe we should start to bid in a big way for contracts in other countries to build hawker centres. This is about the last area of expertise we still have, but not for long. Is there anything that we are good at today to compete with the rest of the world?

 

 

Chua Chin Leng aka Redbean

*The writer blogs at My Singapore News.

 

 

 

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17 Responses to “Committee for Future Economy – CFE”

  • rukidding:

    Not to worry…….it will be another good 50 more years before some other Country can overtake us on following :

    a) Highest Paid President….for doing Jiak Liow Bee & Rubber stamping

    b) Highest Paid PM , MPs ….best in “shifting goal post”

    c) Over-run by Immigrants without a” fight”…in fact describe as “Foreign Talents” by our Government.

    d) Country filled with 70% Dafts and many “eligible voters” that did not even served or do their basic National Service for this Country !

    e) Forever filled with Meek, Bor Lan Chiow …parasites ( Many are New Citizens and are given citizenships in less than 15 years stay )

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  • Taleban:

    All the members in the CFE are inward looking. We should get an expert from UN @UNDP, someone like Dr. W…. something to develop a masterplan for the “Great Leap Forward”.
    We were lucky in the 60′s. Maybe we could be lucky again now. But with the present team…. good luck.

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  • Life sucks in red dot:

    One thing we have, others don’t.

    We are good for paying sky high salaries for miws but they are only good for 1 to 3% growth.

    Beat me!!! Grrrr…..

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  • oxygen:

    CFE is telling me this – I-don’t-know-what-to-say-or-do. Swim or sink, it is up to you, I am on STATE WELFARE of own-self-pay-ownself. You voted for this, remember?

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  • PAP has the mandate:

    Just look at the committee members, none of them worked in a successful private enterprise before…..GLC companies are not consider private enterprises.

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  • Lee Con YOu:

    its just another fortune telling exercise……

    Lee Kuan yew was a good fortune teller, and so is his son.

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  • Save Yourselves Kick Them Out:

    No amount of PAP wayangs will save this country from further decline.

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  • good question!:

    “Is there anything that we are good at today to compete with the rest of the world?”
    Sure! what about those multi million$$ clowns who are so good at talking cock? ..they sure are a very special breed, no need spurs to be stuck in their hides!!

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  • Perspective:

    A revealing insight. It has been one great delusion to think that we have always been “first” in everything. If there is any consolation, we still have some things to brag about – we have the fourth highest ranking University in the world; the highest Maths and Science scores at international competitions, the highest IB scores, and the highest paid Ministers. What else?

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  • PAP is the BEST:

    PAP is best, GDP every year sure go up until 2030. We got 6.9 million population white paper, we dont need worry.

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  • Another con job by PAP:

    The CFE is just another con job by PAP to distract Singaporeans (a cover-up) from the problems it created because of its stupidity and incompetence. Note that CFE Report is a “solution” for a “problem” not defined/discussed in the report. Why? Because it would be obvious that PAP created the problem in the first place.

    “Fool me ones shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.”

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  • What is the KPI?:

    What is the KPI for CFE? GDP growth again. What about productivity which has been negative over the last few years. That is why wages are stagnant.

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  • The Real Economy Problem:

    Singapore has mass imported many low productive, quality workers past 10 years from countries which have not progressed and are still relatively backwards. Many of these, for example as what uncle Chua has mentioned from backwards financial system and village banks, backwards IT system background, etc are allowed in without much screening and scrutinization of their CV. As a results, we see so many problems from building/flat defects, IT system, lift, MRT break down (please ask yourself why the same products used in other countries do not suffer frequent breakdown? It is because of worker quality!).

    Singapore economy may continue low growth with foreign investment and huge gov public infra spendings but the mass number of low caliber workers will bring negative impact to the economy.

    Workers is the most important element of economy.

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  • Boh Kia See:

    It just seems to me that the future looks so much like the past.

    If you prefer the past then why the need to look into the future?

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  • SIOGAN TOH:

    My name Siogan Toh. I like to siogan.
    I think lawrence wong said something like sg will become very connected with the world and attract talents to sg.
    I am afraid this means squeezing fhe world into sg and while this can grow gdp, singaporeans will suffer because the finite jobs created in sg will be shared with the world. Singaporeans have proven incapable of growing productivity much. This means lacking innovation
    DeSpite being TOP IN MATHS AND SCIENCE.

    THERE IS THUS A PROVEN MISMATCH BETWEEN ACADEMIC RESULTS WITH REALWORLD PERFOEMANCE.

    A SCHOLAR SYSTEM IS FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED.
    HOW SO?

    DEBUNK THIS :
    1. IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF HUMAN CIVILISATION, VAST MAJORITY OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL, COMPETENT, CAPABLE, INNOVATIVE OR TALENTED humans are NOT SCHOLARS.

    If you can debunk this , i will siogan myself.

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  • Sceptic:

    For so many years Singaporeans have been used to and have come to expect the Government to tell us exactly what to study, how to work, what to do, and in which industries. The Government did a lot in that direction and attracted large swathes of investments and created many jobs in industries like electronics, contract manufacturing, banking, etc.

    But those days are over. And people need to acknowledge and accept that every other country is now doing the same thing, and so we cannot expect to continue with the old ways and succeed. There is little point in blaming the Government all the time. We cannot stop others from doing the same. Our results are not solely due to our efforts and abilities, and are partly due to what the competition is able or unable to do.

    So now the same efforts in the same old way are not going to produce anywhere the same kinds of results. In fact, they won’t work at all. So we need to stop expecting this of the Government.

    What this means for us (and many others in many other countries) is that we will need to cast our nets wider. And yet expect whatever we get to be far more transient before others snatch it away. The Singaporeans who accept and adapt to this new reality will do well for themselves. Those who wait for the old model to come back, and vote for an opposition party to deliver such a model are very sadly and badly mistaken and will spend many years barking up the wrong tree.

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  • No solution = boh bian:

    Sceptic:
    For so many years Singaporeans have been used to and have come to expect the Government to tell us exactly what to study, how to work, what to do, and in which industries. The Government did a lot in that direction and attracted large swathes of investments and created many jobs in industries like electronics, contract manufacturing, banking, etc.

    But those days are over. And people need to acknowledge and accept that every other country is now doing the same thing, and so we cannot expect to continue with the old ways and succeed. There is little point in blaming the Government all the time. We cannot stop others from doing the same. Our results are not solely due to our efforts and abilities, and are partly due to what the competition is able or unable to do.

    So now the same efforts in the same old way are not going to produce anywhere the same kinds of results. In fact, they won’t work at all. So we need to stop expecting this of the Government.

    What this means for us (and many others in many other countries) is that we will need to cast our nets wider. And yet expect whatever we get to be far more transient before others snatch it away. The Singaporeans who accept and adapt to this new reality will do well for themselves. Those who wait for the old model to come back, and vote for an opposition party to deliver such a model are very sadly and badly mistaken and will spend many years barking up the wrong tree.

    Singaporeans lack the imagination nor creativity to envision democracy 2 party system in sg.

    They always say they have no solution aka BOHBIAN!
    STUDY WELL SO FKING WHAT? NO SOLUTIONS !

    没办法 = boh bian = no solution.

    Everything is bohbian.waiting to be spoonfed.
    Copy here and there.
    No initiative.
    Top in studies so what?

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