1. Inspirational Vision

I’m thankful that our Prime Minister has addressed three key issues in our country.

However, deep in my heart, I was hoping that he would cast a more inspirational vision for our people.

History has shown that leaders who dare to dream great dreams and turn these dreams into a reality create the brightest future for their people.

With an inspirational vision, it can better motivate our people, galvanize our resources, and propel our people to achieve greater results.

As Singapore faces many challenges in the horizon, we need to continue to motivate our people and challenge them to craft an exciting future.

Many countries are adopting austerity measures and taking a cautious approach.

This is an opportune time for Singapore to invest in capitalizing on silver lining in every dark cloud, and leapfrogging over competing economies.

Just like what our founding fathers have done in the past, we should dream – and dream big dream – and take unprecedented initiatives to shape and influence our destiny.

2. Challenges

I wished that our Prime Minister had addressed some of the major challenges facing Singapore.

The three issues that he raised can be addressed and managed by the other Ministers in the Cabinet.

There are major challenges that can be more urgent than adopting cashless payments on a wider scale.

These challenges include geopolitical issues, backlashes against globalization, impact of President Donald Trump’s policies and initiatives, balancing between China and the US, effects of Brexit, and disruptive technology.

3. Early Childhood Development
The government has adopted many vital initiatives to enhance early childhood development.

In this regard, I’m particularly concerned about children whose parents are unwedded, divorced or separated.

Research have shown that these children tend to have lower emotional and social quotients.

These deficiencies can affect their educational attainments and upward mobility.

There is a common saying that “Inequality starts at birth.”

For us to achieve “progress for our nation,” we need to eradicate such an inequality.

Therefore, we need to ensure that vulnerable children are not directly or indirectly disadvantaged because of their parents’ decisions and behaviors.

For example, we have to ensure that none of the children are labeled as “illegitimate” will further exacerbate the problem because such a stigma and the resulting negative childhood experiences can repeat cycles of poverty, restrict social mobility, and set back future generations.

In addition, we need a more concerted effort to help these children enjoy healthy growth, including targeted interventions in the areas of quality intellectual and emotional care, nutrition, health care, and pre-school education.

Early childhood development has to be managed not just by the MOE or the MSF.

Multiple governmental agencies and other relevant stakeholders, including parents, caregivers, teachers, social workers, and health workers should be enrolled to address these cross-sectoral issues.

For example, we need to help provide adequate nutrition to ensure proper physical development, and also social protection to support proper care and growth.

Promote a healthy childhood experience and environment so as to enhance socio-emotional, cognitive and linguistic developments, especially for children of divorced parents.

The quality of our nation-building process depends on quality of our early childhood development for every child in Singapore, and especially for the last, the least, and the lost.

4. Healthy Living

Health is more than just about not being sick or having less sicknesses.

It is about having the fitness, energy, and vitality to achieve worthwhile goals.

It is not just about physical health, it also includes emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental health.

Any of these dimensions can affect the overall well being of our people and their contributions to society.

Therefore, we need to continue to develop a culture for healthy living.

As a result, our people will become more committed and conscientious of preventing diabetes and other diseases.

They’ll be more mindful about the key factors that contribute to healthy nutrition, including glycemic level, sugar content, and dangers of trans fats.
Besides providing continuous education, we should also ensure that nutritional information are displayed in every food and beverage outlet to help consumers make better-informed decisions

Just as importantly, we should tackle the diabetes and other sicknesses from young and throughout the formal educational process.

5. Smart Nation

I commend the Prime Minister for addressing some of our shortcomings in leveraging on technology, including lagging behind some countries in adopting cashless payments.

To drive the Smart Nation project more effectively and efficiently, we need to take both a top-down as well as a bottom-up and peer-to-peer approach.

The public, private and people sectors must come to the table to help drive the project and ensure that even the last person on the street knows how to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the project.

Perhaps, the government may have to hire a more diverse team of talents who are not from the public sector.

These talents should have a global view of the new world and be knowledgeable and competent in handling advanced and disruptive technology and its future developments.

There are ample evidence to suggest that diversity, pluralism and multiculturalism in a team can contribute new models, knowledge and skill sets to strengthen insights, innovations, and impacts.

As civil servants do not have a monopoly of wisdom, domain knowledge specialists can also be invited to become competent devil’s advocates to challenge proposed policies, plans and initiatives.

They should also continue to engage target audiences and solicit feedback from them as well as from the public.

By having a wider spectrum of inputs and contributions, it can compel civil servants to develop different presuppositions and models that may help achieve not just incremental but also quantum leaps of results.

In a fast-changing world, we need to also set up environmental scanning and intelligence-gathering systems on a global basis.

Build data analytical system that will help us harness information, analyse economic and business trends, and evaluate impact of new and emerging developments and opportunities.

These systems can offer us first-mover options to become a game-changing government that can help Singapore move up the food and value chain and become a global hub in the future economy.

6. Vulnerable Workers

A Smart Nation should adopt appropriate technology to help us improve our quality of life.

At the same time, it should ensure that nobody is left behind in our pursuit for growth.

In this regard, I’m concerned about helping vulnerable workers that may not be able to adapt to changes in the new economy.

This is an issue that requires not just the government but key stakeholders from the people, private and public sectors to collaborate and co-create solutions to tackle this issue.

For example, many elderly workers, including PMETs with knowledge and skills that are irrelevant or soon to be irrelevant may be in self-denial and may not be reaching out for help in re-skilling themselves.

Some of them may not have adequate level of self-esteem to seek for support and assistance.

We should look at how to engage the support of grassroots organisations and targeted VWOs, or even help to set up similar organisations to identify vulnerable workers.

Many of these workers may need personal counselling to help them develop self-efficacy, including courage, commitment and emotional competence to put the past behind them and pursue a new direction in their jobs and careers.

Just as importantly, they may also need career counsellors to help them map out their purposes, passions, performance levels, and priorities in the workplaces.

They may need expert help and supervision to identify and develop career possibilities that may fit their personalities and pursuits in the workplaces.

In addition, these workers may need personal coaching to help them ascertain relevant training courses and register for these courses.

They may even need personalised guidance and hand holding to help them participate in the course and persevere to complete all the necessary training programmes.

Concurrently, employers should be encouraged, educated and empowered to help these workers move up the learning curve.

They should be incentivized especially during these challenging times to free up their workers to re-skill, retool and redesign themselves so as to enhance their commitments and contributions to the workplaces.

By building a learning country and a deep-seated culture for continuous improvements, we can continue to stay relevant and effective, and be at the cutting edge of the brave new world.

Go4It!

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please ‘Like’ me on https://m.facebook.com/patrickliewsg

Please visit my website, http://www.patrickliew.net

Follow me on:
https://www.quora.com/profile/Patrick-Liew-5

Visit my Inspiration blog at https://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Let’s connect on instagram.com/patrickliewsg
– via @patrickliewsg

https://twitter.com/patrickliew77
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My LinkedIn
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Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

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Can The Thai Canal Project Destroy Singapore?

by Patrick Liew on August 23, 2017

In the 17th century, French developer Ferdinand de Lesseps proposed a canal to be developed to link the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea.

The Thai Canal, also known as Kra Canal or Kra Isthmus Canal would shorten voyages from the west to the east by 1,200km.

As a result, ships could bypass Singapore and quite possibly end Singapore’s position as a shipping hub.
The new Thai King Vajiralongkorn, who ascended the throne in 2016, was reported by LaRouche PAC on Tuesday, 17 Jan 2017 to be in favour of developing the Thai Canal.

Many key leaders in Thailand have also voiced their support for the project.

In recent time, there were unconfirmed rumors that China will go ahead with making the Thai Canal a reality.

How then will the Thai Canal project affect Singapore?

1. Historically, Thailand could have developed its ports at Chumphon on the east and Ranong on the west.

The two ports could have been strategically enjoined by a canal at the Isthmus of Kra or by road or rail.

This development could have posed a major challenge to Singapore’s shipping businesses and attract more investments to Thailand.

However, Thailand has chosen not to embark on the development because it might pollute the sea and beaches.

The development’s impact on the environment would affect tourism, a major pillar of the Thai economy and an industry that supported livelihoods of many people.

2. China may have the resources to build the Thai Canal.
However, a key challenge for the Chinese is to secure a firm contract with the Thai government.

This is not an easy task because there were multiple changes of governments in recent times and they happened within a short period of time.

Furthermore, the Thai military regime has been known to revoke existing agreements.

They may not honor deals that were contracted by the previous civilian administration.

Such policy flip-flops are major obstacles to success of the canal project and it can affect the project’s profitability, stability and growth.

In addition, success of the Thai Canal depends very much on the strength, will and resources of the Thai government and people.

It is also a function of Thailand’s political stability and security, and consistency and continuity of its national policies.
3. Moving forward, if the Thai Authorities want to develop the Thai Canal, they have to acquire many parcels of land at and around the targeted area.

These parcels of land belong to private owners, some of whom may be uncontactable.

The challenge is that the laws in Thailand does not make it easy to support such an acquisition.

That’s why Thailand faces major difficulties in building an extensive metro train network in Bangkok.

4. Acquisitions of private land may come with a major sociopolitical price.

For example, there may be civil disorder and social unrest, especially if residents are forcibly evicted from the land.

There are not many leaders that will stick out their neck and risk their political future.

5. The southern part of Thailand is a hotbed for Muslim separatist insurgents.

By developing the Thai Canal, it would physically separate those restive provinces and offer better protection for the secessionists from government forces.

These secessionists may use the opportunity to declare their own country.

They may choose to sabotage the Thai Canal project or use it as a bargaining chip to negotiate favorable terms for themselves.

6. The Thai Canal project can only shorten shipping distance by about 1200 km.

It is nowhere in comparison to the Suez or Panama Canal which cuts down shipping distance by about 7000 and 15000 km respectively.

Critical advantage from shortening the distance depends on the effectiveness and efficiency of managing the Thai Canal, including charges levied due to tolls.

By comparison, the Strait of Malacca is not controlled by any entity and provides for free passageway.

Furthermore, the Thai Canal may not be able to take large cargo ships. It may only be able to handle a limited number of ships.

Traveling through the canal may also be slower than traveling through the Strait of Malacca because of the limited space.

7. Singapore’s edge in the shipping industry is not necessary due to its location.

There are other locations that offers better advantages such as Tanjung Priok in Jakarta; which is located nearer to the Sunda Strait.

Malaysia has also built a very modern port at Tanjung Pelepas (very close to Singapore), and also has a good facility at Port Klang close to Kuala Lumpur.

In the past, these ports were not able to overtake the port of Singapore.

If anything else, when these ports do well, they also contribute to the success of the port in Singapore.

In a similar way, when Thailand prospers, chances are Singapore will prosper too.

8. Shipping companies are first and foremost more concerned about providing good service to their customers and ensuring safety and security of their customer’s goods.

They choose to load and unload their goods in Singapore because of our political stability, rule of law, ease of doing business, and reliable and efficient system.

In addition, they are also attracted by the international standing of our port, banking and financial systems, global logistical chain, and complete eco-system for trade and commerce.

9. Shipping companies and their customers are also concerned about cascade of detrimental effects due to corruption and lack of reliability and control.

In this regard, Singapore has an edge over many countries.

Singapore has consistently been rated as one of the least corrupted countries in the world by Transparency International (TI).

We are also the least corrupted country in Asia according to the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy’s Report on Corruption in Asia.

10. Most shipping companies are more focused on transshipment than on pursuing shorter shipping distance because transshipment makes more money for them.

They generally prefer to have their ships travel short distances to logistic hubs to unload their goods.

They then load up goods for delivery to the ship’s point of origin.

Goods left in the logistic hub would then be taken on to another ship and be delivered to its intended destination.

Many ships choose to stop at the port in Singapore because it has steadily built its infrastructure, systems, connectivity and other advantages to become the world’s largest transshipment centre.

Over the years, the PSA International, one of the world’s largest port operators, has acquired bases of operations along major shipping trade routes rather than rely on Singapore’s port alone.

Currently, it has interests and operations in Belgium, China, Colombia, Italy, India, Indonesia, Japan, Panama, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, and Singapore.

As a transshipment centre, when the other ports in the region do well, it can also contribute to the profit, advantage and growth of Singapore’s port.

11. In the final analysis, the new economy is not just about ports, roads and railway tracks.

The physical distribution and delivery of goods may not offer the highest value-added services and generate the best profits.

For example, strengthening multilateral partnerships and channels and free trade alliances and agreements, supported by advanced technological and financial services can play a more important role in the future economy.

We should continue to strengthen our infrastructure and edge in the marketplace.

At the same time, we should develop additional capacities and capabilities to capitalize on new markets, businesses and opportunities.

If we play our game right, Singapore can be a vital toll gate for global trade.

Singapore can be an essential hub and spoke, and the node, router and connector of international commerce.

Go4It!

I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please ‘Like’ me on https://m.facebook.com/patrickliewsg

Please visit my website, http://www.patrickliew.net

Follow me on:
https://www.quora.com/profile/Patrick-Liew-5

Visit my Inspiration blog at https://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Let’s connect on instagram.com/patrickliewsg
– via @patrickliewsg

https://twitter.com/patrickliew77
– via @patrickliew77

My LinkedIn
http://www.linkedin.com/in/liewpatrick

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

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Living The Way

August 8, 2017

Imagine two adults leaning on the edge of a swimming pool – deep in a conversation. You have to imagine the scene because that swimming pool, which was located in what was known as the Pinetree Club, doesn’t exist anymore. The Club, including the pool, had been demolished to make way for an upmarket residential […]

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Bullet-Proof Yourself.

August 7, 2017

“Patrick, get ready to fight the mother of all battles in your lifetime.” Those words were spoken by my lawyer. At that point, he had spent months to help prepare my company to become a public-listed company. Towards the end of the project, he had a warning our management team. When our corporate aspiration was […]

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I Have Failed And Failed And Failed And Failed…

August 4, 2017

Failures are part and parcel of life. They are signposts on the journey to success. Without confronting failures, we would never have truly lived and succeeded in anything. Failures are good servants but bad masters. They act as feedback to help us learn, improve and achieve better results. Without preventing, resolving and learning from failures […]

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China Credit – A Time Bomb?

August 1, 2017

I chanced upon an advertisement by Temasek Holdings. It Is interesting to note that Temasek has identified China credit as one of the three challenges to its growth. There were no detailed explanation on how Temasek perceived this challenge and how it will impact Temasek’s investment strategies and returns in the future. Suffice to say, […]

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Dear Robots

July 25, 2017

Dear Robots or whatever name you will be called in the future, Our Creator has designed us for higher causes and implanted within us the power of imagination and values to achieve greater moonshot accomplishments. We can think how to think – in far greater ways than what can be programmed in a machine. You […]

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Meritocracy And Gender Parity

July 18, 2017

We need to press on to find out why there’s a disproportionate number of women on boards and in other leadership positions and take proactive actions to resolve the issue. If we don’t leverage on women’s talents, we may not be tapping on the full potential of our human resources to improve productivity and competitiveness, […]

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Lasting Beauty

July 17, 2017

The organiser of the Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant 2017 has to be held responsible for many of the brickbats from the public. Besides not attracting a better slate of contestants, it could have better prepared the contestants to put up a better show. Why is there a need for such a pageant? What’s the motive, […]

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IV. Singapore-China Relations: How Then Should We Respond?

June 27, 2017

Since opening its door to the world, China is mindful that trade and commerce has played an important part in its economy and contributed to its growth. Trade and commerce is a part of and an extension of its foreign relations. This is unlike the U.S.’ position which treated and continue to treat trade and […]

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