Friday, September 4, 2015

Cut the defence budget? Freedom is not free.

All eyes will be on Singapore on Polling Day next Friday. 

As Singaporeans assess the future leaders for their country, the world will assess the country’s future with these leaders.

Who we elect into Parliament will shape world opinion on the Little Red Dot’s ability to thrive and survive and the risks we face as a city-state – the smallest of the ASEAN 10. And world opinion matters greatly.

We vote with our hearts and with our minds.

World opinion votes with its feet.

Any signs of uncertainty for businesses in Singapore, any whiffs of insecurity or indications that the new leadership is weak or incompetent will prompt investors to relook their stakes in our sunny isle. 

And with alternatives aplenty not just in our immediate neighbourhood but beyond, this will spell trouble for Singapore. This is a hard truth you cannot run away from.

Larger neighbours blessed with abundant natural resources, bigger populations and a distinguished ancient history have borne the brunt of the economic realities once world opinion takes a dim view of the country’s security, survival and success.

Look north. A net exporter of oil and gas, huge hinterland and sizeable population compared to Singapore, bursting with natural resources and with sea and air ports that are no less strategically located than the Little Red Dot. Ponder the pitiful decline in their currency, the steady erosion in foreign direct investment – money that is unlikely to return to the Federation anytime soon – and ask yourself what gives your precious Singapore dollars the value it deserves? 

It is confidence, both locally and abroad, that the Lion City led by able leaders will continue to be a safe, stable and secure place for homemakers and businesses alike. Such confidence doesn’t spring forth out of thin air. 

Friends and frenemies know this place will be resolutely defended by its citizen soldiers. 

This is why investors will put their money where their mouth is by setting up companies in Singapore even when opportunities beckon from far larger neighbours. Even as we score, the economic game doesn't swing our way all the time. Remember Seagate? Once one of the largest employers here, it has since moved abroad to a more competitive business address.

The system isn't perfect (which one ever is?) but we are adaptable, pragmatic and never shy away from ditching unworkable plans, programmes and processes when planning parameters are proven wrong. 

The sense of security stems from a track record of more hits than misses and a determination to prove that our collective journey to nationhood wasn't a fluke.

Rob observers of that sense of security and an unsettled world opinion will rethink Singapore’s place in world affairs.


Because nobody owes us a living and freedom is not free.

Choose wisely.

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