Feb 25, 2007

On Being Here, and Not Being Here

Vincent is a final-year student at NUS. He's doing a research project on "socio-political blogging". Sounds like a really fun piece of homework.

Anyway, he recently sent me a long list of interview questions. A few questions related to foreign talent, globalisation and the job market in Singapore. One question he had - how was I personally affected.

Well, the truth is, I haven't been adversely affected. If anything, I have benefited.

My job scope is Asia ex-Japan. I'm physically based in Singapore, but I work on projects and transactions across Asia - for instance, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Jobs like mine exist because the government has, for a long time, been encouraging big corporations to set up their regional HQs in Singapore.

In a sense, I don't even have to be in Singapore. I could be anywhere. Most of my work is done through emails and conference calls anyway - with people in half a dozen different countries.

Globalisation means that my economic fortunes are not tied exclusively, or even primarily, to the economic fortunes of Singapore. It would be more accurate to say that they are tied to the economic fortunes of Asia as a whole. This diversifies my risks (a good thing). In any given year, Singapore could sink, but I could still have a bumper year if a few big Asian markets like China, India and Korea do well.

The foreign talent policy hasn't hurt me either. I just happen to be working in an area where the relevant skills are scarce worldwide - and not easily replaceable, say, by a large pool of cheap labour from China or India. I do have foreign "competitors" from places like London and Hong Kong, but I think I can hold my own (anyway, they definitely lack the competitive advantage of being cheap).

So the general themes of my blogging don't necessarily reflect my personal life. I am writing for a wider audience, I am concerned about broader issues for Singaporeans. That's what this blog is about, anyway. It's not so much about me.

Every now and then, when I criticise some policy or new development in Singapore, I get some un-intelligent reader commenting, "Oh, if you are so unhappy with Singapore, why don't you emigrate then." How inane. I'm quite happy here, thank you very much. With a little good luck here and there, I've figured out ways to live my life it roughly along the lines of what I'd like it to be.

That doesn't mean that things are perfect for everyone else on this island - far from it.
Some people are really hurting. You just have to open your eyes, to see.


Anonymous said...

"Oh, if you are so unhappy with Singapore, why don't you emigrate then."

This is a common line of defence from those pro-PAP types whenever one gets tangled with them online. When faced with questions regarding issues they cannot defend in any logical manner, out comes this ad hominem approach. Suddenly it is no longer about the issues but about YOU and your unhappiness. It is a sidetracking tactic.

LKY does this all the time. At a forum two years ago he tried to rile and deride NUS student Jaime Han in the same way. However Han did not fall for it.

Anonymous said...

Think about the Singaporeans (eg. woo yen yen & colin goh) working and living in USA, the Singaporeans working in IB on Wall Street, etc.

I was happy in Singapore but I'm happier having left this country. You get better exposure and your kids will grow up in a much better environment. Less brainwashing, less pressure to conform to silly stuff in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

I know Mr Wang quite well, in real life. :)

He is very non-conformist. I don't think he ever feels much pressure to conform to anything he doesn't want to conform to.

He doesn't give two hoots about anyone who disagrees with his POV, although sometimes he likes to pretend otherwise. :P

Anonymous said...

Must ourselves be adversely affected by policies in order to speak up against them?

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

I salute you! I have been reading your blog for ages and I've agreed with a lot with what you say.

You are the type of person Singapore really needs (not the "if you don't like it here, leave" people). You are not really affected by most of the policies implemented by the gahmen and yet, you can see the broader picture. A person who can rise above themselves and see that things are never as good as their own life is really someone worth respecting.

I never knew this. So I salute you Mr. Wang, continue to blog for us, who are affected by every policy the gahmen throws at us.

Sad to say, you are the type of "idealist" that the PAP don't want.

Desmond Lim

Anonymous said...

So are you bashing the very policies that have helped you build your fortunes because you feel some kind of cognitive dissonance?


Anonymous said...

Like you, I am one of the lucky few to have had the foresight to choose the "correct" legal field to specialist. I remember that 10 years ago, I chose to go down a untrodden career path and how everyone (family and friends) were so worried that I would languish overseas and never be able to come home. However, I stuck to it and career-wise I am now reaping the dividends of that initial decision.

I think the young ones starting out today have it a lot tougher - global competition on the job front, our language skills not quite up to par with the foreign talent, competition from foreign students in schools...the list goes on. If I had been competing in these circumstances today, I'm not sure I would be able to survive the onslaught.

Ned Stark said...

One has to be realistic...if one does not take steps to secure one's self...then one will not be in a person to help other people as one will be mired with one's own problems...

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

I've previously written in your comments previously with regards to the labour freedom index post.

I can't help my chuckle when I read this post. I'm not sure you realise this important point....

The very same globalisation that have allowed you to curve out this successful, comfortable and happy life is the same globalisation that have made the career of others so uncertain in today's world.

Globalisation, as an enabler, has allowed you to have a job here which allows you to work on transactions around Asia Pacific (as opposed to more expensive locations) but has also taken away other jobs which are cheaper to do in other countries.

Think about it.

Jack Ryan

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

No, it doesn't. My kind of work emphasises skill & talent, not low cost.

Anyway, if anyone with the right skills & talents in any of those "other" countries feels that he has been unrightfully deprived of a job by Singapore, he can just pack his bags and move here ....

.... where the government will welcome him with hugs and kisses and NS exemptions and PS status and maybe substitute him for Darrell Metzger as the new poster boy for "Contact Singapore".

Anonymous said...

> Well, the truth is, I haven't been adversely affected. If anything, I have benefited.

which is why PAP is not afraid of "elite" critics like you :) LKY knows only too well that in any society at any time, the elites are always a problem in at least 2 ways: 1. they can become serious political rival, 2. they can quit and move to another country.

So, he identifies such elite starting in primary school, buys them over with scholarships, reduces their income tax so that it is lower than those of other countries that they may consider emigrating to, and make sure that the political policies (eg. sch lang policy? etc) will be adjusted to placate these people.

Of course something gotta gives. And in this case, 90% of the population has to pay more tax, and has their competing political interest disregarded, to cater to those who has bargaining power.

Bottomline: Most bloggers who blog politics intellecutally, logically, and appear reasonably educated, are actually not a threat to the govt. The poor and those affected by the govt's policy, are continually contributing in cash and kind to help the govt buy over these armchair critics, who could otherwise be standing out to do something more concrete. How more ironical can it get? :)

Such is the life of Human Batteries on the Matrix Island :)

Anonymous said...

Anon of 2:12 pm wrote: "You are not really affected by most of the policies implemented by the gahmen and yet, you can see the broader picture. A person who can rise above themselves and see that things are never as good as their own life is really someone worth respecting."

Well, by your definition, there were plenty of people "worth respecting" in the past: JB Jeyeratnam, Francis Seow, Tang Liang Hong, Lee Seow Choo, Chee Soon Juan are lawyers, doctor, PhD holder respectively. I dont think they are "really affected by most of the policies implemented by the gahmen". So, we can deduce that they "rise above themselves and see that things are never as good as their own life".

Did those who voted in those constituencies found them "someone worth respecting"? Haha, they were now either in exiled or bankrupted.

I learnt one very important lesson from this: Peasants are not worth standing up for. If one is not a peasant (i.e. one is not personally affected by the govt's policy), AND since the people will not appreciate you, then it is best to be an arm-chair critic, just like me :)

In fact, if one day the govt wants to buy you over - $100,000 for MP, $1,000,000 for minister - Accept the position without feeling guilty. Why should u feel guilty? Here's a govt who "appreciate" you well enough to give you big bucks, there on the other hand are unappreciative "peasants" who will send you into exile and bankruptcy by their votes. it's a no brainer who one should align oneself with.

Ahaha, the red pill and the truth it reveals! So hard indeed to swallow :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, can I divert to ask an English language question? Recently, I keep hearing people phrasing sentences the same way Mr. Wang did: eg. "Some people are hurting".

My grammar must have been wrong. I am under the impression taht "hurting" means doing harm to others, so the sentence is saying that "Some people are hurting (others)". Shouldn't it be "hurt", as in "some people are (being) hurt (by others)"?

Is this something abt american versus british english or just my own limit in English?

Anonymous said...

Oh it's one of the amazing words that you can use in many different ways.

"My leg hurts."

"My leg is hurting".

"You hurt my leg."

"Stop jumping on me, you are hurting my leg."

"The hurt is serious."

All the above sentences are correct.

Anonymous said...

Some people are hurting means some are hurt by factors such as heart break etc or in this case - globalisation/FT which was mentioned. It doesnt generally mean harm.

This notion is also supported by the blog post linked to this statement.

Anyway to the anonymous February 26, 2007 10:28 AM. You are really hilarious. The guy above wanted to clear his doubts on the usage of that statement and not how to use the word hurt in various ways. LOL

Anonymous said...

ya, this has to do with the way american english uses "hurting", the way british english uses "hurt".

Brit: I am hurt
American: I am hurting

Anonymous said...

Jack Ryan,

Chuckle indeed when I read your comment. Nobody is complaining about globalization. It is how the government handles it that draws the flak.

Anonymous said...

"Nobody is complaining about globalization. It is how the government handles it that draws the flak".
I don't know who wrote this, but excellent comment! The thing about globalization is how you response to it. Just as there are foreign talents entering Singapore, there are just as many going to China making a good living out there too. To me, the best way to response to globalization is remember what we learn in Marketing 101. Pick your market to compete in. Just because a particular industry is a sunset industry in Singapore doesn't mean it is the same elsewhere in the world.

The main issue is how our gahmen respond to these challenges. We treat Singaporeans who seek challenges abroad as quitters and treat foreigners better than our countryfolks back home. I think we should spend more time and resources engaging Singaporeans who have left Singapore rather than the short term policy of importing talents.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! What is the name of the Singaporean dude working in DreamWorks? Had he remained in Singapore, would he have the opportunity to work on Shrek? Singapore is way too small when it comes to certain industries. Well unless you count life science / biotech. which is backed by the government.

Anonymous said...

Guys! read the link, http://zyberzitizen.wordpress.com/2007/02/22/the-certainty-of-being-uncertain/ if you have done so and focus.

My hat off to Mr. Wang for helping me to see things from another perspective on the 'spins' of the goverment. He has definitely touched the heart of many who felt the felt something is wrong but could not express it and Mr. Wong just nail it for them.

My thanks to Mr. Wong for not abandoning the common Singaporean who are 'hurting' even he is not affected by the 'spins' at all. Remember the 30% of Singaporean?

I believe it is more than that. Do you know that Mr. Lim Boon Heng acknowledged in his reply to my query that $1500 household income is considered 'low income' group?

Just do your sum with $1500 total income in your household survive be it single, single parent with kids, or a 3 tiers family unit. Yes they can somehow depending on your definition of min std cost of living.

What is the meaning of life for them when there is no light at the end of the tunnel with increasing cost of living?

They better don't fall sick with serious illness that needs hospital consultation. Now its std $65 if referred by polyclinic excluding specialist fee when referred again by the A&E GP. Why can't the GP at polyclinic refer directly to the specialist? GP at A&E is better? Think of the waiting time and $ the poor chap had to go thru the 3 Doctors and the follow ups after that.

NTUC fairprice is not expected to absort the GST indefinitely so eventually the poor chaps have to pay more the the essential goods.

I am just fed up. Why can't they be smart enought to bring the cost of living down for these Singaporean to survive in this globalisation? Do Singaporean like Mr. Wang really needs the carrot to offset the GST? I understand the fairness of the package but why the core issue of the poor is not really debated for a long term plan?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

"No, it doesn't. My kind of work emphasises skill & talent, not low cost"

I beg to differ on this point. Unless you work in the government / government-linked entity, where there are other strategic concerns, it is ultimately, about profits and costs.

You should get that chip off your shoulder. While this may sound discomforting, please do not believe that your type of legal skills and expertise are so difficult to replicate elsewhere ultimately. Professional services are just as easily offshored as manufacturing. (or some may argue, even more easily so)

Time will tell. Cheers!

Jack Ryan

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous February 26, 2007 11:36 PM

Doing >>>>>>> Talking. Oh course, since I'm not doing, you can call me a hypocrite.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

"I do not believe that your type of legal skills and expertise are so difficult to replicate elsewhere ultimately."


There are peculiarities in my area of work which perhaps you do not apppreciate.

For example, nowhere in China can you get a degree that qualifies you to practise Singapore law.

Also, nowhere in India can you get a degree that qualifies you to practise Singapore law.

That's two biggies down.

In contrast, Singapore has recently announced that it will allow a big flood of doctors in from India - however, that can't happen anytime soon for lawyers from India, because they have no training in Singapore law.

Whereas the human body more or less works the same all over the world.

From my initial starting point as a Singapore-qualified lawyer, I have jumped off to specialise in certain areas of the financial services industry.

Now, India & China, giants as they turn out to be in other areas such as IT services & manufacturing, are far behind world-class standards in banking and financial services.

The world's top investment & commercial banks are institutions like:

Goldman Sachs
JP Morgan
Deutsche Bank
Lehman Brothers
BNP Paribas
Royal Bank of Scotland
Merrill Lynch

You'll notice that there isn't a single Indian or Chinese bank in that list.

You may also notice that the three big financial centres of Asia are Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. No Indian or Chinese city (other than HK SAR) is regarded as a financial centre.

So it will take a while for India and China to catch up. With a bit of luck, by then I will be in early retirement.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

Your job is protected because the law demands a law degree qualified to practice Singapore law. :)

Just as easily, the law can be changed to say that as long as you pass an exam on Singapore law, you are qualified to practice here.

But of course, that won't happen soon, because the law is handled by lawyers like yourself.

Jimmy Mun said...

Many mistake globalisation as a blind chase of low labour and land cost. If that is the case, Japan would be out of business long long time ago. And yet Singaporeans are willing to pay a premium for cars "Made in Japan", over those of the same brand made in thailand.

The dominance of China as a factory of the world only covers consumer goods. Capital/durable goods like high tech machines and tools are still being built in developed nations like USA/Japan/Germany, which is why these three still have a higher GDP than China. It has nothing to do with trade barriers; China lacks the expertise, and is incapable of building it any time soon.

The problems Singapore faces today is almost singlehandedly created by poor government policy in recent decades. In the 80s and early 90s, when the sun was shining, Singapore should have been busy making hay, building up niche human capital irreplaceable elsewhere in the world; instead, the government chooses to neuter our talents with our cookie cutter education policies with the explicit aim to create generic engineers, engineers and more engineers. The tag line of the day then was we are a small island with limited resources so our R&D must be limited to a small r and a big D. Instead of building up a diverse talent base, the government wanted to compete with cheap abundant manpower. Like our "Stop at two" policy, the government tried everything in their means to cajole every student into engineering. And the cycle repeats with IT, Life Science, Digital media.

Now realising that it may not be a good idea:

CNA reports: "Singapore's top civil servant Philip Yeo said Singapore cannot afford to have its best and brightest students only in a few top schools receiving the same system of education."

If Philip Yeo said that 15 years ago, when he was already EDB chairman, he would be worth every last cent of his million dollar salary. How much would you pay for a parrot that states the obvious?

And speaking of the Dreamworks ex-Singaporean, we have Philip Yeo to thank for naming and shaming him for breaking his bond. If you can find his blog now, you will notice he doesnt talk about Singapore any more, even though he is an excellent talent in the digital media industry Singapore is trying to build now. With such excellent and foresightful talent management at the top, so "tolerant" of diversity in the choices of our budding talents, it has to be a great mystery why Singapore is always behind the curve in having the right expertise at the right place at the right time.

For the young people reading this, it is a cautionary tale not to follow anything the government is trying to promote, because they are bound to overdo it every single time. The government today is a herd chasing animal.

There are opportunities in every field, not just in law or finance where Mr Wang is now. It is key however, to avoid the government created stampedes in what they think is "hot areas" to pour money (and "foreignt talent") into.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Certainly. The natural route would be something like this:

1. Indian national studies JC in S'pore (2 years)

2. Indian national goes to NUS law school (4 years)

3. Indian national takes PLC and does pupillage in S'pore (1 year)

4. Indian national qualifies as S'pore lawyer.

Similar things have happened for other professions (our engineering faculties etc at NUS and NTU have Chinese & Indian nationals in abundant numbers). And certainly we now have an oversupply of engineers, and their wages are dampened.

Why hasn't this happened yet (to any significant extent) for the legal profession? I previously explained it here and here.

The S'pore government miscalculated; it thought that there was an oversupply of lawyers, and artificially choked off S'pore's capacity to produce lawyers (whether S'porean or foreign citizen).

Now they realise their mistake; they are trying to increase capacity. For example, SMU is starting a new law school this year. Their first batch will graduate in four years' time; qualify as lawyers in five years' time.

By which time - lawyers in my shoes would have made very good money for another five years.

The newly-qualified, inexperienced lawyers will pose no threat to oldies like me (then), until the newbies gain, say, at least another additional five years of working experience.

By which time - lawyers in my shoes would have made very good money for another five years.

According to the above scenario, I have about 10 years to make good money, before the government can create enough young lawyers to crowd out older lawyers (the way that senior executives are crowded out by younger ones).

Ten years - hopefully I can retire by then. :P

Mugster, above, makes comments about me suffering from "cognitive dissonance". She is the one suffering from it. My situation is not representative of the typical Singaporean; it's actually a highly bizarre situation with many unique factors; it won't happen again.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Article comparing salaries of

(1) doctors
(2) lawyers
(3) investment bankers

Mr Wang, as investment banking lawyer, is a kind of combination of (2) and (3).

Doctors fare worst among the three categories, and will probably fare even worse in future, as the government is preparing to open the floodgates.

In Singapore, architects and accountants may also soon find themselves on the endangered species list.

The life sciences grads are ALREADY on the endangered species list.

ll said...

Jack Ryan - you must realise that people like Mr Wang and I didn't choose to go into our field blindly. I took a calculated risk with my decision and it has paid off.

Of course I understand that my job may be taken away from me in say 5-10 years' time but I am fully prepared to relocate then to "save" it (and take a pay cut if necessary). Also, I am constantly upgrading my skills - I am forcing myself to gain an understanding of PRC law, sharia laws etc.

No doubt you will say no big deal since there are so many PRC qualified lawyers, Chinese speakers, sharia law experts etc. However, none of them (thus far) have spent a good 10+ years working overseas in the top financial markets with an equivalent number of years specialing in the related field. By the time they catch up with me, I will already be in a fairly unassailable position.

And if all else fails, there are always other things that one can do. But more on that another time.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Oooh .... I guess you must be that LL.

Next time can be less subtle or not? :)

Jimmy Mun said...

Not to let the lawyers steal all the glory, I have a friend who is getting so many job offers without applying that he has hit the salary cap: 5 digits per month. He is so hot now, the only offers worth considering are those coming from overseas like Hong Kong and Tokyo, and he is probably leaving soon.

What does he do? IT. Not a particularly obscure field of IT, but companies like him not just because of his expertise, but also because he has got the right work history in the right companies. Even though he feels threatened by the Indians, there isnt a lot of Indians who can do his job. Why? Because the top quality Indian IT professionals with unique skills do not come have to settle for Singapore. Singapore's salary structure is too low to attract the best professionals, not to mention putting up with the latent racism from the sheer volume of Indian labourers. When the Indians gain enough experience, they leave, creating a vacuum at the mid to top end. Companies complain about this, and the government let's in more generic low end foreigners, who would leave as soon as the chalk up the experience. Also compounding to the problem is that the field cannot be easily quantified with the language our MOM understands: paper qualifications.

So we have a perpetual expertise shortfall, while Singaporean fresh grads are barred from progression opportunities because of the sheer volume of entry level "foreign talents" who actually take care of their own countrymen.

Not that my friend planned it this way though. Through the lean years, he was working in a local company that made so many pay cuts it nearly bankrupted him. But thanks to the mortgage that nearly killed him, he was forced to persist in the job. The attitude of his bosses then was that he was an overpriced baggage that should be replaced with an Indian. As soon as the recovery came, and when it became clear he was a lot harder to replace, his pay was doubled, but he was offered higher pay elsewhere anyway.

As long as the government tries to make Singapore cheap by flooding the place with entry level foreigners, Singapore can never build up and keep the professionals, and the same flood of cheap obedient foreigners discourages the employment of young Singaporeans. Today we are short of lawyers, tomorrow, we will be short of IT professionals. The government is cannibalising our future to remain cheap today.

Anonymous said...

Click here for a doctor-blogger's thoughts on oversupply in the medical profession. I like this part:

"My own personal belief is this: If SMA is not protectionist, then appearing protectionist when you believe otherwise is hypocritical. If SMA is protectionist, then in Singapore’s context, appearing protectionist may be the worst way to actually forward the protectionist cause. In other words, appearing protectionist may be the worst way forward whether SMA is protectionist or not. Because once you are labelled successfully as protectionist, you can be pretty sure that whatever you say afterward will not be taken very seriously. To be labelled as protectionist is to be successfully character-assassinated."

Sounds to me that:

(1) Singaporeans must lose their jobs, and

(2) they shouldn't even complain about it.

Anonymous said...

you can complain, provided you have solutions. otherwise, get out of my elite uncaring face.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Wang,

It's been a long, tiring day so i'll just do a quick rejoiner. (i hope)

You believe you are lucky in that you have accessed that there is still 10 years for you to accummulate your savings and opt for early retirement. You think you are in such a fortunate situation now because you had not listened to the government back then (on how oversupplied the market) but acted on your instincts.

Sir, the fortunate situation you are in is due to lobbying by the legal profession and subsequent government intervention. (And I would re-evaluate that 10 year window if I were you - I reckon you have less than 5-6 years)

If you go back into history of the legal profession in Singapore, the reason for the relative low supply of lawyers was because many years ago, a committee was formed to restrict the supply (ie. reduce intake of NUS and restrict the number of acceptable institutions).

The argument back then was that restricting the numbers would prevent the rise of an overly litigious society as seen in the US. This committee had excellent representation of members from the legal fraternity and government. But guess what, it had no economist! If you have been in the profession as long as the formation of this committee, you should be know of this.

This restriction of supply, combined with the excellent work in attracting MNCs and financial institutions to be based in Singapore, created an environment whereby the profession is able to earn a supernormal profit. (Economics 101) Interestingly, the same type of committee (no economist again!) was formed and the situation occurred for the medical profession as well. This was not reversed until these recent years whereby internal / external intakes for these professions have increased. When full competitive forces have been restored, lawyers like yourselves, I would wager, like all the rest of us will have to deal with the associated changes in salaries.

Let's not mince words here - the 2 committees were dominated by members of the profession - hence the outcome today. Professional bodies exist to maintain standards and values but a less marketed function is that they also act as a defacto trade union and to restrict supply and raise prices - to the detriment of consumers.

BUT I disgress again...

...because my fundamental point in my first comment posted was this...

You HAVE benefited from the forces of globalisation and these same forces of globalisation have made others in our society less well off in this grand scheme of things.

You believe that things are hunky dory because you somehow picked the right industry (financial services)? Have you questioned how this industry came about and developed to such an extent?

Without the forces of globalisation, financial markets should have remained largely tied to their host domestic economies and not evolved into a global industry as what we are seeing today. Global financial services and globalisation feed into each other like a virtuous cycle - the stronger one leg is, the stronger the other becomes. Globalisation has facilitated the development of regional / global financial centres, led to harmonisation of standards / market practices and allowed for the concentration of functions to serve multiple geographical markets. Singapore has been wildly successful in this creating a regional (i hesitate to use 'global') financial centre even although it does not have a massive domestic economy like most other FCs precisely because of various government policies implemented over the years.

Your success now has every bit been due to globalisation and this same globalisation is bringing about massive relocation of work and activities around the world in almost every industry.

Think about it.

Jack Ryan

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Oh is that your main point?

Then I do agree with you. A good part of my success HAS been due to globalisation.

In case you didn't notice, I said as much in the 6th paragraph of my blog post.

However, I don't think my situation is typical of the average Singaporean. It's certainly not representative of you, if I recall correctly. Aren't you the guy who kept getting retrenched because of globalisation?

An anonoymous commentator had already said:

"Nobody is complaining about globalization. It is how the government handles it that draws the flak."

le radical galoisien said...

My response:

"Oh, if you are so unhappy with Singapore, why don't you emigrate then."

I have been some way affected by the policies in Singapore, especially in terms of education and discrimination, but not that adversely so. As well as the fact that it's a logical fallacy (ad hominem, as someone pointed out) - in related to personal motives, why should one emigrate?

Emigrate, and give one's cultural identity up to the whirlwind forces of globalism forevermore, and lose something more critical than materialism - culturalism.

We have an attachment and a heritage and we're damn well going to take ours back rather than ceding it to some authority who should wish to impose repression upon us.

Sorry, can I divert to ask an English language question? Recently, I keep hearing people phrasing sentences the same way Mr. Wang did: eg. "Some people are hurting".

It's the difference between transitive and intransitive. English is peculiar. In PIE (I think Sanskrit?) this would be represented by the middle voice (e.g. "the chicken is cooking in the oven"), and in Romance languages (French, Spanish), by pronominal ("reflexive") verbs.

le radical galoisien said...

"Jack Ryan - you must realise that people like Mr Wang and I didn't choose to go into our field blindly. I took a calculated risk with my decision and it has paid off."

And is this what the government teaches to do? Oh, "you should go into the biomedical field!" because that's not what you're actually interested in the bloody subject but because they calculate it will be better for you?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

I think you misunderstand. My point is not whether you have benefited or not benefited from globalisation. This is not in dispute here.

What I was trying to ask if you acknowledge that it is the same forces of globalisation that have allowed you to do so well and others to do so poorly in this new scheme of things. A simple YES / NO perhaps?

Another point in which I was to point out was while your choice of career many years ago had a big part to your success today, it had also been due to the Singapore Govt's intervention - to attract industries (good) and to restrict supply (bad). Do you acknowledge that the govenment had a huge part to play in your success today?

You countered "Nobody is complaining about globalization. It is how the government handles it that draws the flak."

But what are you proposing here? How does one tap onto the forces of globalisation such that it continues to benefit the winners and yet prevent another segment of society from losing out?

Encourage globalisation such that an industry or profession where there is little competition for jobs continues to benefit and block forces of globalisation and raise barriers where there is more competition for jobs?

Not only is it unsound for the economy as a whole, if successfully executed, I dare say it smacks of hypocrisy of the highest degree.

This is my last comment on this post. Tired.

Jack Ryan

Anonymous said...

Haha, "I took a calculated risk = they (the government) calculate it will be better for you (me)?

Jimmy Mun said...

Jack Ryan,

You barely know Mr Wang and yet seem so sure that he has only a shelf life of 5-6 years. How presumptuous is that? I still cant fathom what exactly he does. I am guessing he is those dudes who generate and/or vet legalese for products that are launched in multiple markets. I doubt you need to be a registered lawyer to do his job, which means that his job has barely any governmental protection. But I think his employers have nightmares about him quitting or hit by a bus because he is darn hard to replace - how else can he get away with this much blogging DURING WORKING HOURS FROM THE OFFICE?

And you speak as if globalisation is some religion that we have accept wholesale or be condemned to hell. Think about USA/Japan/China/India, which have sky high protectionist policies in place to protect, among other things, their agricultural communities. And yet they are all benefiting from globalisation in areas THEY CHOSE to participate in. OTOH, I am not sure there is any country in the world that leave it's people as exposed and unprotected as Singapore is - as shown by the international awards for open economy and doing business. It is a miracle we have anything to give away when we negotiate free trade agreements.

When we were young and weak, the strong ones in our community protected and nurtured us, so that when we are strong, we in turn, can help protect the young and the weak. This is a basic survival trait of human beings. Blind faith in globalisation is not just dehumanising, it is ultimately self-defeating. Few countries in the world is more desperately in need of a committed people as Singapore does, and yet the government is doing everything to destroy that commitment.