Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Matter Of Perspective

"COES mainly for the rich? That's life," wrote the director of Mag-E to the Forum page, to justify one car on the road and another in the garage. Not any car of course, he was referring to a Ferrari for "forging deals" and "paying the salaries of his average-income employees." That's sickening.

Once upon a time, cabinet ministers made a point of driving (and being seen in) cheaper Japanese makes. Slowly, they have moved on to more expensive and swankier European marques. Goh Keng Swee would be rolling in his grave. His favorite story was about his son asking to be dropped off a distance from his Alma Mater - the kid didn't want to be embarrassed by his dad's humble set of wheels.

Delivered as a Babara Weinstock lecture in January 1979 at the University of California in Berkely, Goh Keng Swee's perspective about good business ethics and sustained economic growth comes across in this excerpt:
"When businessmen earn money the hard way, i.e. the honest way, they do not engage in meaningless extravagance. Profits are not spent in conspicuous consumption but are ploughed back into the business.
Where, however, business profits are the results of favours granted through bribery, the effects are different. The businessman himself may or may not re-invest profits earned. This depends on whether he can secure more favours to start new monopolies. In that event, he would be imprudent not to stash a good portion of his profits in an unnumbered Swiss Bank Account.
Patrons behave differently. Since they have acquired vast fortunes by virtue of the positions they hold and not because of work put in, the temptation to spend freely becomes irresistible. Almost invariably, there is competition among patrons to impress one another and the general populace. This is why we so often witness gross extravagance among the wealthy in third world countries."
(page 193, "In Lieu of Ideology, An intellectual biography of Goh Keng Swee", Ooi Kee Beng)

It makes you wonder if present day Singapore is still lingering at Third World status.


  1. Too bad. 60% daft Sinkies voted for PAP. Sinkies deserve what they get. You die your business.

  2. That braggart is just setting himself up as a target for kidnappers. Good luck to him, and I'm sure nobody, not even his average-paid employees, would shed a tear for him.

  3. You are out of touch with the new religion which baptized money and made it holy.
    Many of our prominent successful, and influential, people are lapping it all up on Sunday.

    It is called having your cake and eating it too.

    Grace has never been that deliciously sinful. Try it. You don't need a brain to eat it.

  4. A letter today has an even brilliant idea. That every singaporean born citizens be given an COE by birth to be exercised at age 18. I think that's a great suggestion. It will truly differentiate priority for locals over your fake PR cousins who should stand in queue unless they want to serve their country.

  5. In those days when Singapore (LKY) is still receiving the guidance and mentoring from our Dutch counterparts, we pretty much follow their wisdom of not flaunting wealth (which is distasteful) by their standards. After the 3.0 generation took over by GCT, the whole 9 yards were thrown away and we look to the USA for guidance. See where that got us in 4.0 generation of MPs. Plus a Husband+Wife team, long live Americans-get rich-n-greedy quick values. Wait till we get to 5.0

  6. The greed of the mentor surpasses that of his slaves

  7. LOL..5.0 will be a combination of rojak salad that includes = Communist authoritarianism + India's caste system. Such values are already slowly seeping into our nation, just look around.

    And if I were a cheap FW like filipino maid, instead of serving the humane-less singaporeans who won't give me off-day and pay peanuts with no employment & individual rights, I'll be better off carving a "Butler" career for myself and go where the money is. At least I'll be living in castles, not some store room in a HDB flat.

  8. Time for change! They are too long in power until they have forgotten their roots. They have grown debauchery fat, prosperous and complacent taking the citizens for granted! I have given up hope on them! 


    Here's a deeply enriching perspective. RIP TH.