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Quick MRT thoughts on Prof Lim Chong Yah’s economic proposal. April 19, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Economy.
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Broken MRTs have never been so common since its inception back in 1987. I was running away from the massive after office rush hour by having dinner at a shopping mall. When I was having dinner, I saw an elderly man in his 70s making his slow pace from table to table. When he came to my table, he politely asked me if he could clear my plate. I was looking on as I recalled the many senior citizens who have to work even when they are in their 70s and 80s. It is not a rare sight. One of the most memorable impression was an old lady who was clearly suffering from osteoporosis. She had a 90degree hunched back and had to clean the toilets at Raffles City. I told her to forget about drying the toilet floors and just quit the job. She told me she couldn’t because her middle aged son had trouble making ends meet. For some weird coincidence, she boarded the same MRT train as me later. I gave my seat up for her. And an Indian guy gave his seat up for me and we ended up sitting together. She talked a lot along the journey from HDB flat prices to jobs to her toilet chores at the shopping mall. It left a strong impact on me. 

Unfortunately after some 2-3 years, I am still ploughing myself. If  I had the ability to hire these old folks for a much higher pay and at far shorter hours, I would without hesitation. If I could really have it, old people should not work.

The cost of living is getting higher. I could dare say it has gone through the roof. Low income earners are making far too low. And when I read the proposal from Prof Lim Chong Yah, I applauded. Not only the old are working with meagre pay but so are those blue collar workers. In due course, everyone will get it in one way or the other. Cutting labour costs has its limits. How low can you go when living costs go up all the time? The law of economics can do up a certain point, often playing around with figures to solve problems. The ultimate is to feel the ground and hear what people are complaining about and act on it. Human factors have different permutation set of issues that contribute to those economics problems. We cannot plainly say we do this policy and that taxation, while insisting that wages must be kept low for businesses to survive. To me, it doesn’t make full sense. The way I see it is that if costs is the way to handle problems so firms don’t crash, then we are all screwed, as costs cannot go any lower. Falling to an unacceptable low point is as good as being unemployed. 

I hope Prof Lim’s proposal is taken in somehow. I think we need a flip. And a quick one too. — Karen Fu


A Lego Lesson. April 16, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, creativity, Economy, talent.
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Issues on global talent came as I was watching the video. There are clearly many British and American educated individuals in the video. If I were to shut my eyes up just listening to them, I would have thought they were natives. It can be a strange sight to see. But with the propagation of western colleges doing transnational education as well as an increased demand for overseas western education, many students are opting to learn abroad if they have the opportunity.

Many creative individuals appeared to bear a strong multicultural background. Just like the interviewee who is a Malaysian graduated from Harvard, a good number of well known people tend to also have a ‘Rojak’ (Malay word for a delicious mixed salad of fruit and vegetables) blood of Asian and caucasian mix. Either this, or they often come from a rich diversified experience of multiethnic cultures.

As I watched on, I cannot help but to compare with what Iskandar, where Legoland is, has to offer, I cannot help asking why Singapore could not have legoland and universal studios without the casinos. Iskandar is only a strait away from Singapore and they are blooming the area up with Eco diversity living waterfront houses apart with hi tech industries. My gut feeling is that many will be lured to the region. If they could create the kind of security like we have over here, they could easily attract many to their shores for investments.

Our recent debate on raising the minimum wage and wage freeze for top income earners focus on keeping the local economy sustainable. As far as I see it, focusing on costs alone will not see us through. Surely we need to raise salary only when productivity is good. But to deprive the lower income group earners by cutting manufacturing / service costs is just as bad, if not worse. Could we be more innovative in our course in economics without slashing pay of employees when the cost of living is getting to be uncontainable? Lego started off from a small cottage industry to a mega toy business that isn’t confined to just play value. It has also been used in even furniture and architectural structures out from their simple block unit. Why is it that we cannot replicate such creativity instead of drooling on cutting costs ? If the lower income blue collar get their wages so low that they can’t economically survive, be sure to expect high social costs in due course. To start off burning costs as a mantra, be also sure that middle income earners pay will be controlled and marked downwards too. In fact, this is happening as the global economy isn’t good and companies both big and small are trying to slash wages paid to employees.

Often I feel we need a good flip. When things don’t get better, then it is high time we skip it and try something new. What maybe a soft skill may turn out big. We dont need to follow what most people do. The time when you start seeing many entering the same field, that’s the time you should be thinking of another emerging field.

There are many ways of leveraging what we don’t have. Our forefathers have done it. Why is it our generation seems to be talking backwards? We have the brains and the talent here but I think many are underutilized. If you were creative, what would you do? If I have the chance, I would flip it. — Karen Fu

Addition 17-4-2012 from my own quoted comment on Facebook : Cost cutting is not the way to go. Quality and innovation is. When you start to focus on the money alone, the result is you missed the innovation. Finally both firm and employees loose really — Karen Fu


February 24, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, China, Economy, USA.
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It is destined that China will rule in many areas, if not most areas.


Realism as S’pore ‘warns’ US

Behind The Headlines By Bunn Nagara

The city state has begun to adjust to emerging regional realities while pivoting on its pragmatic impulses, as always, while steering a steady course between China and the US.SINGAPORE’S political positions are nothing if not coolly calculated and calibrated. They are specially so when expressed in formal statements at high-level meetings.

In Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam’s keynote address to the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) gathering in Washington recently, US media reported him as “warning” the US against China-bashing rhetoric.

Words about containing China, particularly in the populist mood of a US election year, would he said cause a “new and intended reality for the region.” It was not the first time Shanmugam had said so, having previously cautioned against the futility of containing a rising China.

However, these statements do mark a shift from previous…

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