Myth 193 - We think we know what we are doing
We are a small country, a small economy but with an ambition that is bigger than the universe. We made the world our hinterland. Instead of closing up and retreating into a small corner, we took on the world, open up, liberalised and become a player punching above out weight. We have our successes, and in fact very successful in many areas. We are a role model for many countries. These days, we are starting to feel the pain of liberalising too rapidly embracing everything the world could offer, the good, the bad and the ugly. We forgot to put on the french cap and we are exposed to all the slimes and the sophisticated cocktails of drugs in high society, disguised as a must have for those who have arrived. We forgot to discriminate! The financial fiasco, not only the minibonds, but the stock market and the whole financial system, is leading to a lot of simple questions. Why are we going into things that we don't know, or things that many do not know? Even the financial experts and professionals, the people who make a living in selling these products, in selling derivatives, are fumbling to try to explain things that they too found difficulty to grasp. And we expect the tellers, the retirees, the unschooled, the general public who are not financially trained, to know them. Isn't this amazing? It is good that we now admit that we don't know. It is good that we start to think that we have erred somewhat, that we should not think too highly of ourselves. The financial experts who really understand and know what these products are are very few in between. Most of the Relationship Managers, their bosses, the financial advisers, even the stockbroking agents, did not know their products or the complexities of how these things work or are able to take advantage of them. They ended up being losers. These instruments are only for specialists, not the man in the street. But we keep churning them out, expecting or pretending that people will know, from sellers to buyers. Complicated instruments and derivatives demands full time attention and monitoring, including the assistance of softwares, nothing like buying and selling ice creams. Do we know what we are doing? If not, we must stop doing them and roll back our plans. It is criminal to keep pushing these financial instruments and derivatives when the people and market are not ready for them. Stop deceiving ourselves. Then in education, we want to turn ourselves into an education hub. A good strategy and very lucrative. But do we need to let the slimes to come in? The slimes are like tainted milk. Once our reputation for integrity and quality is destroyed, all our effort will be gone and it will take generations to rebuild them. The latest fiasco of unaccredited university, West Coast University, banned in some American states, is not a laughing matter. It is silly and it undermines everything STB is trying to do. And WCU is only one of them. Do we know what we are doing? We believe we know. We know that if we adulterated the core Singaporeans that we have imbued with our Singapore brand of discipline and culture with too many foreigners, we will lose our cutting edge. So we tell ourselves, the foreigners content must be limited. So we know what we are doing. In reality, in practice, we are doing exactly the things that we want to avoid. We have about 5 mil people here and 3 mil are Singaporeans. So as long as the Singaporeans out numbered the foreigners, we are ok. What if we increased the Singaporeans to 90% by making all the foreigners Singaporeans? Statistically they are Singaporeans, 90% of them. But are we not diluting our base? The new citizens, despite the pink ICs, are not the Singaporeans that we know, that were nurtured from our system from young. It will take them years, maybe a generation or two to be what Singaporeans are. Having a few new and good genes to cross breed with old local genes are good. But to add in so many in so short a time will dilute whatever there is left of the original Singaporeans which we believe are the ingredients that make us different and competitive. Of the 3 mil Singaporeans, how many are Singaporeans like us? Do we know what we are doing?